Will Artificial intelligence replace your Sales Reps? 

Impact on the interaction with your customer is profound 

Salesforce presented: Artificial Intelligence (AI) for your CRM. Will this be a game changer in the way you interact with your customer or will it be just a gimmick for the early adopter? You might not be aware, but Artificial Intelligence is already around us everywhere: when Facebook shows me ‘relevant’ posts, when Google auto-suggests search entries or when Waze offers optimal routes to my work.

Jeroen Panken

It all leverages the power of large data analyses to predict what the best thing is to offer to you is as an individual person. Since we, as consumers, make daily use of it, we expect companies with whom we interact to behave in the same way and show that they know us. This makes me believe AI will be the next step in CRM. How will AI impact your business and will Einstein be the answer? Will AI replace your Sales Rep, Service Agent or Marketing Manager just like Robotics is predicted to do to in Manufacturing and in Healthcare?

Do you need to be afraid of AI?

I personally don’t feel issues with it, but if you feel uncomfortable with letting things go, have a trust issue for the unknown or have a computer make decisions on your behalf, yes, you might become a little afraid of AI. On the other hand, if you see AI as a robot coming from the future to kill someone in the past or a new kind of internet which aims to destroy humanity, no need to worry as that’s in the science-fiction corner. “AI for CRM” is geared towards helping your Sales Rep, Service Agent and Marketing Manager to get super-human skills! So no, it will not make your customer focused team abundant. On the contrary, I believe it will support them to become more efficient and effective by doing the things they do today in a better and faster way adding more value to the client and ultimately to your business through higher customer order value, order frequency and reduced churn.

Though, I think you should be afraid of AI a bit. Wonder who’s better capably of embedding AI into its business. Who will win the sympathy of the customer, you or your next competitor?

How AI will bring value to your business

As said, AI is not new, it has actually been around since the 60’s / 70’s. However, due to high investments in Data Scientists, the need for huge computer power and the non-existence of large data sets to learn from, it has always been a thing of the future. But nowadays with the introduction of technology like Salesforce’s Einstein these limiting factors could become a thing of the past. You can actually embed AI into your daily business. No need for hiring PhD data scientists as Einstein promises business savvy use and setup, computing power comes through the Salesforce Cloud and the required data sets you have likely already at the tip of your hands within your CRM database!

How Einstein promises to change the way you do business:

  • Smarter Sales: get personalised recommended follow-ups on who to call next based on emails to which haven’t been responded to, on which opportunity to chase next based on highest conversion probability
  • Smarter Service: recommend a case classification and predict the best routing for cases and propose the likely solution to a case in order to resolve them faster. Link your IoT (internet-of-things) devices and get predictive maintenance alerts and fix machines even before your customer experiences a breakdown.
  • Smarter Marketing: get predictive scoring on the likelihood of customers engaging to an email campaign; create an optimal customers segment based on predictive behaviour; recommend the best product or service for each individual; get insights into the market sentiment by analysing social media. 

Start leveraging the power of AI

Yes, the examples above give a fairly good idea how Einstein will get you going, but don’t implement gimmicks for the sake of it. Think first about your customer strategy, identify your current main challenges and only then imagine how AI could solve these. In short, get your use case for AI ready and find executive support for it! Think from the Customer Journey and how AI would give them an experience to never forget.

Define your business process with AI in mind. Think in terms of ‘the art-of-the-possible’ and break this down into practical features which your business can leverage now and tomorrow.

Ensure data quality at the heart of everything you do. Design your system to make it data fool-proof, but don’t overdo it avoid excess compulsory steps making your employees walk away.

In my experience, new technology gets best adopted in small steps. You have to think big and lay out your future vision; but start quick and implement in small steps: “Crawl, Walk, Run” is my motto.

Use Caution

Though Einstein might present itself to do the magic you’ve always been looking and will make all your problems disappear, the least is true. The saying ‘garbage in, is garbage out’ I think will turn out to be very true for AI. You will need to train the system to make predictions based on historic information. So, what’s there to learn if your historic data is incomplete or worse, totally wrong? What if you still have tons of data hidden in Excels, legacy and email systems?

Privacy is another important topics to be aware of, Einstein will analyse your data in order to do its magic. At point of writing it is unclear whether that data processing will be done in the US or EU? Also, do you want Salesforce to look into all your customer data, Chatter posts, email messages, social media streams and IoT pings? Salesforce does say you can opt-out for Einstein so your data won’t be used, nor will any of their data scientists look at your data as ‘it is all machine-learning’.

Business acceptance and customer understanding needs to be managed. Change never goes easy, especially with new and ground-breaking technology. You need to your adoption strategy ready which goes beyond giving a simple quick reference card, sending out an email or offering an eLearning. Carefully manage all your stakeholders, up and down the org chart. Assess the impact of this change on your current daily business, legal affairs and commercial edge. Check if your employees are ready for AI and have clear mitigations ready. Plan your deployments carefully and remain in control. Communicate to your stakeholder, internally as well as externally.

Einstein is a new feature and though it will be a big play, it isn’t proven yet. Einstein is now an intrinsic part of the platform and several features come general available (GA). Which does bring us to the topic of the required investments in Einstein. Some clarifications are pending on which features are GA and which are under additional license costs.

My take-away

AI for CRM will be big, that’s what I truly believe. It will be a game changer in the way you do business with your customers. It will empower your employees with super human skills, they will never forget to act on that promise, they will always impress your customer with pro-actively contacting them with a potential product issue and they will offer you exactly the products and services they were looking for at the right moment in time.

If Salesforce’s Einstein will deliver on this vision will remain the question and needs to be proven. Their ambition is great and Einstein is here to stay. Question is when you will jump on-board the AI train. Will it be on time to stay ahead of your competition?

Tech Trends 2016: Industrialised Analytics

In ‘Deloitte Tech Trends 2016’, practical case studies and tips for implementation take you through eight technological trends that are likely to disrupt your businesses in the next 18 to 24 months. This includes the ‘Industrialised Analytics’ which this blog is inspired on.

Download the Tech Trends 2016 report and read more about:

  • Right-speed IT
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality go to work
  • Internet of Things: From sensing to doing
  • Reimagining core systems
  • Autonomic Platforms
  • Blockchain: Democratized trust
  • Industrialised analytics
  • Social impact of exponential technologies

Read more

Everything you need to know about AI for CRM

More information on Artificial Intelligence?

Do you want to know more on Artificial Intelligence or Salesforce’s Einstein? Please contact Jeroen Panken at +31 (0)88 288 4079 or

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