I’ve spoken to more than a few digital transformation experts this year, and they recognise the huge value AI brings to the party.
Marketers see it too: in 2016, 80% of marketing executives surveyed by Demandbase predicted that AI will revolutionise marketing by 2020.
And, last year, my colleague, MOI’s Client Services Director Stuart Victor, published an article on the various benefits that artificial intelligence could bring to marketing.
One of those benefits was better sales and marketing alignment:
“AI could make this a lot easier. By analysing data from across the whole business it could, say, recommend actions that the sales team should take based on what the marketing team has already done and what the business goals are.”
However, a lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to technology, and AI is developing at an exponential rate.
So, before I get to how AI can help align sales and marketing, I’d like to give a brief overview of what AI can do for marketers and salespeople.
AI can’t steal jobs that don’t exist
Even now, when everybody knows the importance of data, there are still very few people who know what to do with it.
I don’t see such a massive skills shortage being filled anytime soon. With help from AI it won’t matter.
AI won’t steal marketers’ jobs, it’ll just automate the difficult, time-consuming (and boring to most) job of joining the dots between multiple data sets.
Marketers can skip straight to what they’re good at, the thing they get out of bed for: engaging their audiences. Only it’ll be easier to do and more effective since they’re working with solid insight.
Artificial intelligence meets human creativity
All the creatives and copywriters can breathe a sigh of relief too.
AI can be used by marketers to find out all sorts about their target audience – how they behave, what websites they visit, what content they consume, etc.
But creativity still needs the human touch to appeal to an audience’s head and heart. With AI’s help, the stuff they create can be more targeted, relevant and generate more leads that convert into sales.
Did somebody say ABM?
AI can find all sorts of insights through data analysis.
It could help marketers and sales teams whittle down their target lists to those accounts actively looking to buy the services you provide.
Or you could find potential targets from accounts you hadn’t even thought of.
This deep knowledge of individual accounts is the bedrock of a successful account-based marketing campaign.
Since it’s all backed by data analysis, marketers and salespeople are more likely to agree on the right accounts to target.
I’ve spoken before about applying Kaizen manufacturing’s philosophy of continuous improvement to marketing.
The insights AI can give you can help you take this idea to individual campaigns. You can use the data to see what’s working and what’s not, letting you take corrective action to ongoing campaigns and make future ones even more effective.
Intelligently bridging the gap between sales and marketing
With the flood of data finally under control, marketers can hand over better, more relevant information to their colleagues in sales.
With all this knowledge passed on to the sales team – things like accounts that fit the ideal customer profile, who’s making the decisions in a target account, and how ready-to-buy they are – salespeople can do a better job.
Sales and marketing teams often don’t see eye to eye. They have different jobs and different goals. There’s certainly been a level of distrust, disappointment and resentment between the two sides in the past.
We need to remove the idea of ‘sides’ because that entrenches siloes, which are bad for business. It’s not about making friends, though. While it’s great when sales and marketing get along, this is really about the bottom line.
When there’s true synergy between sales and marketing, across the entire funnel, the customer gets a more consistent, relevant, interesting, engaging and informative buyer journey. Then the business makes more sales. It’s that simple.
AI will bridge the gap between these two often-siloed departments. It can help from top to bottom of the funnel, but especially at the bottom, where the conversion from MQL to SQL is critical.
As an agency, artificial intelligence plays ever bigger roles in what we do. Get in touch if you want to talk about how AI can be used effectively in your marketing campaigns.