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Sales Leaders Must Harness the Power of AI While Keeping the Human Touch

Q&A with Adnan Zijadic, Director Analyst in the Gartner Sales Practice



As generative AI continues to disrupt the sales landscape, leaders are seeking ways to empower their sellers with the right content and tools to optimize AI capabilities in support of a wider revenue strategy. Despite the buzz, the salesperson role isn’t fading - it’s the human in the loop that improves AI accuracy and outputs, and ultimately, buyer understanding.


From the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference in Las Vegas, Adnan Zijadic, Director Analyst in the Gartner Sales Practice, shared his views on how a balanced sales playbook is essential for striking a synergy between the irreplaceable human element and the precision of AI.


Adnan Zijadic, Director Analyst at Gartner, laid out a balanced playbook - a synergy between the irreplaceable human element and the precision of AI - at the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference in Las Vegas.


Q: How is the role of the salesperson evolving?


A: We are at a precipice of AI disruption in sales. While sellers are ready to embrace data-driven insights, leaders must prioritize equipping sellers with playbooks for effective selling that build that human connection through contextual understanding. Incorporating AI technology as a teammate will lead to sales playbooks that are more balanced while encouraging organizations to achieve competitive advantage.


Today’s buying journey is multidimensional and highly complex, yet a great sales rep can leverage a combination of signals as well as their own intuition to capture dynamic buying behaviors and make sense of complicated buying processes. What’s more, buyers still value that human connection and are more likely to find value affirmation from a sales rep than from a digital interaction.


Q: How can leaders make AI their right-hand in sales strategies and successfully enable their sellers?


A: If harnessed correctly, AI can become a sales leader’s powerhouse, adding depth to customer interactions and bringing exceptional data processing, pattern analysis and insights to the table. There are three key AI technologies that leaders can tap into for a more effective guided selling process:


AI intent data delivers deeper insights, faster, not only predicting customer intent but engaging with precision timing and relevance. This allows leaders to leverage AI and analyze what customers and prospects are consuming on the web.


Conversation intelligence identifies patterns and preferences, and it can customize the sales experience in real-time. By capturing non-linear data, AI in the conversation creates adaptability and can inform a sales playbook and pipeline management process.


Knowledge graphs (or graphs in general) are a powerful behind-the-scenes tool that can connect the dots for sellers, transforming data into strategy. They enhance sales effectiveness and streamline the sales process, ensuring that teams are engaging with the most promising leads and opportunities but more importantly, making them more effective in engaging in a contextual way.


Q: How can sales leaders balance the role of AI and the human touch?


A: While AI can provide a goldmine of insights and automate certain tasks, it supercharges the sales playbook rather than replaces it - the human element is still key. In fact, a Gartner survey of 412 senior marketing and sales leaders from November through December 2023 found that organizations that blend digital and real-time interactions are 1.9x more likely to exceed expected revenue growth, and AI is no exception.


Sellers bring emotional intelligence, meaningful conversations and analysis of contextual relevance, and through an AI-guided playbook can achieve an enhanced sales narrative.

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