25 Jul When sales met Einstein: opportunity forecasting and scoring with AI
by Christian Tooley
Sales planning is a difficult task for many organizations. Maybe you base your sales forecasts off of your sales team’s goals and recent numbers. But then there’s the uncertainty of trying to decipher how qualified the opportunities and leads in those forecasts are. With this, maybe an educated guess will pass. You’re just doing the best you can with what you got.
That’s all fine and dandy, but imagine what you could do with a little bit more power helping you see into the future. Salesforce’s AI platform, Einstein, accurately forecasts wins and closes for a custom time period using historical data with a state-of-the-art, self-learning algorithm that takes the tendencies of each salesperson into account. This means much more accurate forecasts and more business predictability. Combine that with Einstein’s AI-powered sales opportunity scoring, and you have some serious magic. Einstein can score opportunities based on historical sales data, sales activity, and customer interactions, and then Einstein can explain why the lead scored the way it did. Not only that, but Einstein will suggest ways for you to increase your lead and opportunity conversion. Between what it does for both forecasting and scoring, Einstein is—as Salesforce describes it—like each salesperson having their very own “personal data scientist.” And it’s no joke: when sales met Einstein at Square, they saw a 64% year-over-year increase in revenue. This is where you say “I’ll have what she’s having.”
To get in on the benefits of AI-powered sales, follow these three steps to make sure your sales and AI connection is utilized for the best results.
Remember data is always the key
Data is always the key. The trick with AI systems is that If you don’t have the best data or the right amount of data, it’s never going to really learn how your sales operate. To address this need, you have to make sure your team is utilizing activity-monitoring data management tools to capture all the calls, input, and more that affect the lead generation process. Without understanding the steps your sales reps are taking, AI will never learn. It’s best to start with a cleansed and fresh dataset that has maintenance processes in place so there is constantly newly updated data to feed the machine learning of AI. For more data management tips, check out our data migration partner, Prodly.
Crawl, walk, then run
Before you dive in deep to AI-empowered sales, you have to realize that as with any learning engine, Einstein is a crawl, walk, run system. While it’s true that Einstein’s opportunity forecasting and scoring will only be as good as the data put into it, it’s also true that it needs some time to learn how your sales reps work. Once you turn on Einstein, it will begin learning your sales reps’ habits: how they sell, what their pipeline looks like, how they score, their accuracy, etc. Once it’s had the time to gain a true picture of day-to-day selling habits of all your reps, then you’ll start seeing results.
Because of this, it’s important to set the expectation that Einstein isn’t going to be correct all the time from day one. It will get pretty close to perfect, predictive insights eventually, but not as soon as you flip the on switch. Give it the time to learn how your sales reps communicate, sell, forecast, and how that compares with the reality of your deal closes. In the meantime, you can work on establishing your sales process.
Solidify your sales process
Having a concrete sales process is vital to realizing the full business benefits of sales with Einstein. If you don’t have a solid process for your sales already, now is the time to get one. A step-by-step process or clear selling pattern will make Einstein learn much quicker. On the other hand, if everything is just “kind of” set up, loosey-goosey, and sales reps are going rogue without any instruction, it becomes a lot harder for the AI engine to learn and recognize processes. A similar pattern over and over is crucial for empowering AI-driven sales, plus, it’s just good practice for standardizing your workflows.
When sales met Einstein… there was at first maybe some hesitation—reluctance, even. But if you let them get to know each other—by using good data, giving it some time, and solidifying the process—sparks will fly as your sales team becomes empowered by the predictive insights of Einstein.
Christian Tooley is the Data Practice Director here at Simplus. He is a motivated and technical professional with expert knowledge of the SalesForce.com platform, Java and Apex Development Database, Web Services, Agile, Certified Scrum Master, Salesforce.com Certified Developer, Salesforce.com Technical Architect, and Application Lifecylce Management. Christian is recognized as a leader with strengths in both the Lightning UX and the Salesforce Platform.