Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Sales Leads

Marketing may have found a magic bullet in AI. Companies like Salesforce and IBM have recently unleashed a new round of accessible and affordable AI marketing tools that take the guesswork—and grunt work—out of marketing. The systems can save companies time and money, while also improving lead conversion rates. Even better, they can do it automatically.

Case in point: a Harley-Davidson dealership was on the brink of closure. Selling just one or two bikes a week, they were desperate to improve the quality of their leads and conversation rates. After trying AI-powered marketing support, the owner sold 15 bikes in one weekend. How?

Using existing customer data, the AI platform searched through the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system to define qualities of “high value” customers. They created “lookalikes” that resembled past buyers and used those customers as tests for micro-marketing campaigns. The AI went so far as to test which words in the messages led to higher calls and sales. The dealership jumped from finding one qualified lead per day to 40. By month three, leads had increased nearly 3,000 percent.

If it seems too easy to be true, that’s because most of us can’t comprehend the power and speed with which AI is able to measure and optimize data—far more data than humans would ever be able to sort through alone. The following are some tips for those who would like to enjoy the magic of marketing-focused AI.

Ensure Your CRM is Accurate

Marketing AI will work in partnership with your current CRM—meaning if it is full of junk, junk is likely what you will get out. As noted by one writer, “predictions are only as good as the underlying data sources.” It is far better to have less data and know it is accurate than to have lots of data that can’t be trusted. So before starting an AI campaign, make sure your data is clean, accurate, and reliable. This is the only way to find reliable insights to identify high-value targets.

Go Slow

Although AI moves quickly, you do not have to. Harley-Davidson used small micro-segments to test campaigns before releasing them to their larger lead base. This helped them determine what message was most effective—and adjust as needed—before the full campaign was ever sent out. For instance, they found that messages with the words “Call now!” performed nearly 450 percent better than those with the words “Buy now!” They were then able to change that wording before sending the messages through all channels, ensuring the highest likelihood for campaign success.

Follow the Lead-er

One company Shoretel, was able to reduce their conversion rate for qualified leads from 1 in 100 to 1 in 12, just by using AI to determine which leads would be a “best fit.” Even better, with smaller lists, sales reps could sort and follow up on leads more quickly and easily—taking some of the overwhelm and discouragement out of the sales follow-up process.

Lastly—Believe in Magic

It may be difficult for some business owners or marketing teams to get their heads around allowing AI to determine which leads to drop, which words to use, and which messages to send. But they’ll have to release the reins a bit if they want AI to do its job. AI allows you to make choices based on what is proven to work—not based on personal insights or experience. It also expands your playing field by managing a much broader and wider network than you’d be able to manage on your own. For instance, humans can manage a few hundred keywords at once. AI can manage hundreds of thousands, while also processing millions of interactions per minute. That power can help businesses do more than find new leads. It can help them find new geographic markets, new potential partners, and new potential products.

Even though AI takes some of the decision-making power from human hands, it also can keep sales teams motivated and businesses moving forward. It can save time and money, and free you up to manage other things. I’m guessing most businesses would be willing to release some of their decision-making authority for magical results like that.

Additional Resources on This Topic:
How Machine Learning Can Give Us Great Customer Insights
Just How Techy is Your Marketing Department
The Changing Role of the CMO: From Order Taker to Growth Driver

Photo Credit: UKNGroup Flickr via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited by CNBC, Barrons, Business Insider and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.
Daniel Newman