Now that automation and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly important, what does the future of sales and marketing look like? Find out here.
"If your aim is to quickly earn a lot of money, you need to look at companies that will be automating work in the upcoming two decades. A lot of people do work we never imagined a machine would be able to take over... Yet companies such as Google and Tesla are well on their way to replace those people: doctors, lawyers, customer service staff and sales can already feel machines breathing down their neck. There are enough companies that will be digitising these jobs and will earn a lot of money doing so."
− Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures (early investor of PayPal, LinkedIn, Square, YouTube, Yammer, Palantir, Lyft, and Airbnb)
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CRM is booming business
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a business that generates about 25 billion US dollars a year. Leading CEOs in the industry predict that CRM software will be the fastest growing Saas (Software as a Service) segment in the years to come, with an estimated revenue of 40 billion US dollars in 2019.
The estimation has already had its impact on key players such as Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle, which have spent approximately 40 billion dollars in CRM acquisitions in 2016:
- Microsoft acquired LinkedIn (26.2 billion)
- Salesforce bought DemandWare (2.8 billion)
- Oracle managed to take over NetSuite for 'only' 9.3 billion
More and more companies are trying to use that zettabyte of data stored by customers in the cloud every year. Using this data gives you an incredible insight into your customers, which many marketers and CEOs see as the key to success.
In 10 years, 2016 will go down in history as the year in which the CRM industry transformed completely. That's why it's important that both salespeople and users of these systems understand that what's happening right now will affect the future of the customer journey and the role of sales.
So what does this mean for sales? Because establishing relations and understanding people is an essential part of their work, it won't be automated immediately. Even though the sales process probably won't remain the same, sales reps build complex, interpersonal relationships, which will still be fundamental.
Artificial Intelligence is the future
Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella have identified chatbots as the future of marketing, sales and customer service. Up until now, chatbots have made progress with customer service with the help of Natural Language Processing (NLP), but their strength will also spread to other services. Chatbots are evolving and getting better at recognising languages and questions, and responding appropriately to them.
Because of that, the scenario in which chatbots could automate the sales industry is becoming even more real. But we're not there yet: there are still many important steps needed in the development of NLP technologies. Machines are still bad at copying human behaviour, no matter how good they are at analysing. On top of that, it's clear that most purchase decisions are still made based on the reliability of a salesman.
"Even if machines could analyse human behaviour, they're still bad at copying it."
Nonetheless, it seems that in the near future technologies like chatbots and other AI will blend into the CRM industry.
For example, the New York-based startup Troops.ia is working on an interactive chat bug that reminds sales reps when they need to follow up on certain leads and when they need to log their CRM data. Such developments in the industry can definitely create added value, especially in the short term.
Speaking to devices such as chatbots, artificial intelligence and digital assistants will definitely become the standard, allthewhile increasing productivity and efficiency. As salespeople, we should also start thinking about our role in the sales process as technology continues to evolve.
Even as an SME you should embrace innovation and digitisation. How you succeed? Find out in our ebook.