What if you could use artificial intelligence to know what specific clients want to buy more from you? What if you could know what products they want the most? What if you could know how much they’re likely to buy from you?
Companies are using advanced forecasting methods and predictive analytics powered by machine learning and statistical modeling to know what clients want to buy more products, what products specifically, how much, and when. Armed with this information anyone should be able to increase their sales.
Old-school sales strategies focus on the personal aspect, understanding the client and building a human-to-human relationship. At the same time, with online sales skyrocketing year after year, online marketers apply data to better target current clients and new prospects with the right deals at the right time, without any “human touch” at all. In B2B sales, the analytics part has somehow been left out. It doesn’t mean that the human-to-human relationship should disappear, on the contrary, it’s still the most important part of B2B. However, by applying analytics, companies could build sales strategies that are data-driven human-to-human methods, far more effective than the old-school strategy alone.
This might all sound a bit futuristic to some old-schoolers but it is in fact dead simple. We’ll explain here below, human to human.
WHO WANTS TO BUY MORE FROM ME?
In business school I remember reading that it costs ten times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer. It certainly sounds logical, but it’s also far easier and cheaper to sell more to existing customers than to new ones. It’s called cross-selling and is sometimes quite underutilized sales tactic by companies in B2B sales.
Your understaffed sales team focuses on the 20% of clients who are responsible for 80% of the sales. That’s very understandable, as those clients are the bread and butter of the company, and maintaining them is critical for the profitability of the business. But those 20% are already large customers, i.e. they’re already buying a lot from you. And since your sales team spends most of their time maintaining them, they have probably tried to sell them all they can and selling them more is like squeezing blood from stone.
The truth is that it’s within the 80%, who are only responsible for 20% of the sales, where the real potential for growth lies. Those are small accounts who get far less attention, sometimes none, but might have a serious potential. But if you have hundreds or even thousands of clients, where do you start?
Let’s say you have thousands of B2B customers, and some hundreds of products, it’s not straightforward to know what clients are most likely to want other products from you. By applying artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning techniques, to analyse historical sales data, a pattern can be detected. Some clients will appear to be more likely than others to want certain products from you. This is impossible for humans to do, but artificial intelligence does this in split-seconds.
Every Monday morning you could have a list of the top 20 clients who are most likely to accept another product from you, and what product specifically, sorted in the order that those most likely come first. It’s quite unlikely that there’s any company from your big 20% on this list. The Monday sales team meetings will be far different than before, as you distribute this list to your team and assign them with the simple task of calling a number where the recipient is 92% likely to say yes when offered a specific product.
The results are obvious; cross-sales will skyrocket and revenue will soar. And as the closing rate increases dramatically your sales bonuses will also increase - which you should be happy to pay - with massively boosted morale in your sales team.
HOW MUCH WILL THEY BUY FROM ME?
By utilising demand forecasting you will be able to see into the future with all your clients by predicting future behaviour. This will allow your sales team to plan their sales targets far more accurately, improve pricing, inventory management, budget preparation etc. For more detailed information about Demand Forecasting I recommend this short article I wrote a few weeks back: 8 Reasons Why Advanced Demand Forecasting Is Critical To Your Company’s Success.
Many companies are already using this technology and we’ve seen a major upsurge in the past 12 months. The fact of the matter is that if your company is not using these methods and adapting to a changing world, but your competitors are, then you’ll soon be left behind. Don’t be so busy turning out daily fires that you don’t hear how everyone is passing you. The time to upgrade your B2B sales tactics and adapt to a different environment is now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now.