M&E Daily

Microsoft Exec: AI’s Become Crucial for Sales Departments

Artificial intelligence (AI) is “gaining traction” and can be a “game changer for sales” in particular, according to Corrie Hoogstra, worldwide sales leader for sales automation at Microsoft.

AI “will be super crucial to your organization in the coming years,” so it’s important to “map out a strategy” for deploying the technology, she said March 14 during the webinar “Empower relationship selling with AI-driven insights.” 

The technology “has the power to transform the sales organization,” she told listeners, noting that she often talks to people at such companies globally and “they really do see it coming” and want to see AI-driven insights become available to them on whatever device they’re using.

An increasing number of sales organizations are either already using AI or at least evaluating it, and “this is a trend that’s going to continue,” she predicted.

AI “can be really impactful to informing” an organization’s salesforce to make them “more efficient” and it’s also “attainable” today in terms of cost and the technology itself, she said.

After all, AI “helps us surface data, gives us directions, and reminds us of upcoming commitments,” and “when we use AI for relationship sales, we’re able to not only measure the health of professional relationships, but better manage those relationships in order to achieve the best outcomes,” according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has been using AI and machine learning (ML) extensively in its Azure cloud computing service. Hoogstra pointed out that Microsoft is also using AI in its Dynamics 365 for Sales business that can be hosted on the Azure platform.

Pointing to the growth being seen in AI usage, she noted that 81% of sales executives believe the technology will, within the next two years, work next to humans in their organizations as virtual co-workers, collaborators and trusted advisors, according to third-party data she cited. The question is “how are we going to get there?” she noted.

The top challenges for sales organizations today include being able to identify the right prospects, engaging with prospective customers and closing deals, according to Hoogstra. Cold calls just don’t work that well today, she said. Dynamics 365 AI for Sales can help solve such challenges because: It empowers sellers and sales manager to sell smarter and lead proactively with AI-driven insights and dashboards; provides sales teams with actionable insights; and customers can get started quickly with a prepackaged AI solution that works out of the box, she pointed out.

Key capabilities powered by AI, meanwhile, include: Predictive lead/opportunity scoring using ML learning models; natural language processing; connection graphs using ML to determine relationship strength; contextual insights using data science models; and call intelligence such as speech-to-text transcription, sentiment analysis, and keyword detection, according to Hoogstra.