This is an excerpt from our 17 Top Sales Trends for 2017.

With the right sales enablement tools, sales and marketing teams can build stronger sales workflows. But that’s just one half of the equation; sales teams must also serve the buyer by creating a frictionless buyer journey. For Jake Reni, Sales Manager of Enterprise Inside Sales at Adobe, that means incorporating AI into the sales process and using it to clear the way for sellers to make better decisions.

headshot “We’re going to hear way more conversations around prescriptive selling and AI.”
Jake Reni | Sales Manager of Enterprise Inside Sales at Adobe

“Sellers are going to shift to selling with a buyer enablement mindset.” That means salespeople must help make the complex process of buying simpler. According to CEB, 39 percent of buyers are overwhelmed by the process, which can lead to purchase abandonment and regret. It’s up to sellers to guide buyers toward better, more informed buying decisions. With AI and machine learning, sellers can drill deeply into common buyer problems and solve them with precision and speed.

But sales leaders expecting AI to solve all of their problems must tread carefully. “AI is not the data science or the machine learning that benefits us because we have predictions we want validated,” said Reni. “Instead, it’s the unstructured data that helps us to be prescriptive. We’re not making assumptions on what the buyer needs — we’re using AI to help us prescribe solutions based on solid data.”

What next?

Just as marketing automation has become an integral element of many companies’ tech stacks, AI will become a must-have in the coming year. “There are two parts: Do I have AI in my tech stack? And do I have ways to personalize content for my buyers?” asked Reni. “How can I personalize what I’m sending and ensure it’s extremely relevant to the buyer and what they care about?”

Of course, knowing how to leverage AI will be as important as adding it to current technology. That means knowing which elements of the buyer journey to personalize, and which types of content will be most effective for the buyer. That level of personalization requires AI to become the foundation for an organization’s tech stack. “AI is going to be the engine that drives all of technology,” Reni said. “If you’re using a tech stack that doesn’t have a framework of AI behind it, you’re going to be outdated.”

Want more? Get our guide to all the 17 top sales trends for 2017 here.