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How AI is impacting CRM


You won’t have failed to notice that everyone, but everyone is now talking about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and this is partly as a result of the surge of interest and sign-ups to the now famous ChatGPT from Open AI launched in late 2022. This has now over 100 million and counting subscribers. Indeed, it reached 1m users in just 5 days!

I was introduced to this by my tech savvy son last November, signed up and started to do a few queries myself. It really was impressive and astounding, but this appears to be just the tip of the iceberg and over the last eleven months since ChatGPT’s launch, this has resulted in a seemingly mad rush for embracing generative AI across all business sectors which is really the next generation AI.

But what is the current impact from AI in the day-to-day environment for the typical Sales Rep using their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system?

Why introduce AI into CRM?

A key metric here helps to give some context to what is driving the desire to invest in generative AI within the CRM industry,and this is Selling to Non-selling time.

The average sales rep is still spending too much of their time on non-selling activity. Sales Rep productivity studies I’ve read, consistently suggest that average time spent selling can range from only 30% according to a LinkedIn Sales 2022 report to the best I’ve seen recently is 45% across multiple industries.

All the studies are saying that sales teams are still spending far too much time in non-productive administrative tasks such as note taking, adding basic information into their CRM (e.g. job titles, telephone numbers, email and address details and any relevant coding such as Industry for new contacts/new organisations) and then creating new records e.g. Sales Opportunities and adding activities and follow-ups etc.

This administrative part of CRM has always a bane or chore for many salespeople, and many an article has been written about the need to fill in core information correctly to ensure there is good data integrity, but now with AI there is both increased assistance, but more importantly a genuine reason since AI is helping to formulate new benefits and save reps time. For example, with meeting third party AI apps such as adding Attention and Fireflies Fred with CRM and with MS Teams/Zoom now means that these apps can record a meeting, provide a transcript and at click of a button, can summarise key points and follow-up actions from a prompt and then create email templated summaries with these actions, all with only a small amount of configuration and set- up.

So, for the major CRM vendors, the key driver behind AI is this drive to maximise Users productivity and reduce the number of mundane tasks needing to be performed by the typical Rep, helping them spend more time on their core focus of selling and talking and listening to clients and prosects. The added advantage is that this should also help drive User Adoption, something that has been a challenge for many a CRM project over the years.

Now we can better answer the classic ‘What’s in it for me’ question often asked by Reps after being told to record lots of critical information on their Leads and Deals or Opportunities. The benefit goes straight back to the Rep, and not how it has been seen in the past, back to their Management, to enable them to provide key reports and dashboards, sometimes seen by Sales Teams as a stick to be hit with!

Key Day to Day AI benefits for Sales Reps

Currently, for the average day to day Salesperson and this post is focussed just on a typical Salesperson’s working day, then improving that 30-45% selling metric upwards is the key to better productivity. The core themes I see across the Sales function with the launch of the various AI or ‘ChatGPT’ suffixed Sales modules from many vendors are broadly:

1. Enhanced data entry and profile building

The ability to add in and fill core data which can be pulled directly from say a contacts details in emails for example is in my view one of the key day to day benefits. As mentioned above, having the AI within CRM create records quickly, pulling in core details and other additional information about the contact/company to rapidly build a profile enables better, more consistent segmentation and is a real time saver. Whilst this sounds a simple benefit, it is a key area since for many Reps it can be a time consuming and mundane task, with many a rep skipping useful key details and only entering in the minimal data in order “to get on with the task in hand”. This improves data value, data validity and integrity and ensures a more consistent approach for better profiling and segmentation.

2. Sales Activity productivity boosts

This theme can be divided into a number of a few productivity boosters for the average Sales Rep. For instance:

Conversations. Be this in online meetings or calls, a core function for Reps is time spent in talking and meeting online. Since Covid, for many Reps, most of their meetings and often the all-important discovery call or meeting is likely to be online through MS Teams or Zoom. The ability for AI to record and transcribe these calls and meetings with key notes and actions again helps to save valuable time. Transcripts can be quickly turned into meeting summaries and analysed for key points and key information auto-added to the relevant Deal or Opportunities.

Follow-up activities. Creating actionable and high quality, but realistic email drafts for example in a short follow-up email from these calls/meetings, for example a ‘Meeting summary and key actions” template enables these to be quickly generated, scanned for adding anything extra in to make it more personable and importantly sent soon after the meeting concludes. This is another big-time saver and doubtless, will save Reps and Managers countless hours over the course of a year of meetings.

Then follow-up tasks/activities can be auto generated as well with reminders for the Rep.

These are just two core time saving boosters for the day to day operations.

And with the abundance of rich data now being fully captured, additional benefits now become available:

3.  AI Insights

Record Data Insights. Whether this is some form of sentiment analytics or with better more consistent data entry, AI has the capability to give deep data insights, for example on sentiment from either conversations and emails and use this alongside historical data to help in for example predictive Lead scoring and Opportunity Scoring. This benefit is based on the fact that AI it is able to process and use such a large volume of data and make sense of this data across your CRM system records and engagements to give real insights into say the match and likely viability of a particular Lead or Opportunity as well as providing recommended actions and guidance to improve Sales Rep performance.

Collective Conversation insights. For example, Attention, a leading sales enablement AI tool that works with vendors such as Salesforce and Dynamics 365, the AI app records meeting conversations across multiple reps so this can then be used for analysis. For example, an AI prompt could be entered asking the question “What were the top five issues or challenges/pains experienced since X date for our Automotive industry prospects?” Being able to do this across a group of conversations for a particular timeframe and customer segment can give both the Sales Rep and Sales Management meaningful and accurate feedback and understanding, which can then be used to both improve training and feedback to reps, but this can also help and support Marketing in creating more meaningful and relevant messaging content and campaigns.

4. Other benefits

With these added AI capabilities to CRM and with a focus just on Sales Reps and Sales Managers, other benefits include:

Training and Feedback. As mentioned in the example above, the ability to share key themes and learnable actions, be that in prospecting or questioning skills is another key benefit. Again, prompts from conversations recorded can generate insights. All of these insights can help Managers with better guidance and focussed training for their sales teams based on meaningful up-to-date data from within their own CRM.

Automation. Various automation routines can be created and automated based on AI, for example, the updating of more recent company profile data, identifying which workflows are leading to the best results. E.g. Follow-up task from a meeting in 3 day or 5 days for example.

The overall aim is still in relieving reps of many these mundane, but critical tasks and activities and giving them relevant insights from their own CRM system and so giving them back more time to enable them to do the creative thinking so they can better target the best Leads and Opportunities and increase their conversion metrics.

All of these benefits help to make the typical Sales Rep a lot more effective and help to put the Rep back in control of their own CRM system.

And the cost?

Investment cost. In the race to add in this functionality into their applications, many of the leading vendors such as Salesforce and Dynamics 365 with Copilot for instance, are already including varying degrees of core AI or ChatGPT type functionality into their latest offerings with extra AI modules often available for added enhancement.


Ultimately, all this focus on generative AI still comes back to a key business driver which lies behind the original adoption of CRM for many companies over the last 20 or so years. That is the focus on increasing both individual Salesperson and Sales Team performance.

The pace of change and creativity unleased last November has literally moved us all onto a new digital wave.

And with this rapid pace of change in this last year, now is a good time to meet with your own CRM consulting partner to better understand how you can specifically benefit your own Sales Teams performance and embrace this new technology.

30th October 2023