Cognitive Selling: Master the Future of Sales

Frontier Team

8/3/2023

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In the fast-paced world of complex enterprise sales, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve to maintain a competitive edge. Today, we introduce you to the next frontier in consultative sales – cognitive selling. We’ll explore how cognitive selling can propel your sales organization to new heights and secure significant revenue lift hidden in your existing sales data.

Paul Golding, our Director of AI and pioneer of many AI techniques, sheds light on this revolutionary approach. It combines the power of artificial intelligence with strategic innovation to reinvent sales. This is far more reaching than merely bolting AI on the side of the sales organization.

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If you want to see a video summary of this fascinating topic, check out the voice-over presentation by Paul Golding prepared for sales executives of a leading global sales org.

If you want the slides for this talk, download them here.

The Evolution of Sales: From Art to Science, now AI

Over the decades, sales has evolved from being an art-based approach to a mix of science and art. This is thanks to insights from behavioral science and data-driven techniques such as analytics and Big Data. 

Now, we stand at the precipice of a new era, where cognitive AI, fueled by generative and causal techniques, promises to maximize the benefits of technology in sales. This new approach, known as cognitive selling, holds the key to unlocking connections and insights in complex sales data. And it does so in ways that surpass human capabilities.

We estimate the potential of this approach as at least 5-20% revenue lift from data hiding in plain sight, beyond human reach, but reachable using cognitive AI.

Embracing Generative AI: Opportunity Radar and Decision Maker

A typical enterprise sales organization accumulates vast amounts of hyper-connected sales data, much of it in natural language. To succeed in this data-rich landscape, sales teams and leaders need saliency, insights, and decisions. However, traditional tools like dashboards and CRMs can only go so far. Cognitive selling, empowered by generative AI, can identify hidden connections in sales data that lie beyond the reach of human analysis.

By leveraging generative AI, you can tap into a plethora of use cases, from micro-learning and sales coaching to win-loss analysis and real-time decision support.

Most sales organizations struggle with observability, never mind saliency. The promise of Generative and Causal AI is to provide a “digital radar” that can hunt for useful data points. However, it can go further to interpret them in light of other knowledge, such as win-loss analyses or successful campaigns. The outcome is valuable data-driven insights. Better yet, when combined with historical data, such as top performing accounts and market trends, it can synthesize winning decisions from the data.

The Strategic Innovation Path: Beyond Chatbots and Low-Defensive Moats

While it might be tempting to adopt a quick-fix solution like deploying a chatbot, it’s not the optimal route to cognitive selling. True success lies in developing a strategic innovation capability to create an integrative cognitive sales solution with a high defensive moat. This requires a multitude of technical foundations, such as various large-language models, knowledge graphs, causal AI, and affective computing. These are all governed by a supervisory AI called “Mixture of Experts”. This is the technique used by GPT4 to combine several weaker models into a single strong one.

Absolutely critical is a winning data strategy. This has nothing to do with data governance or the usual data management concerns. Rather, it is a systematic and strategic approach to ensure optimal data for training the models. This involves building informational moats around proprietary data that your competitors cannot easily replicate. For example, think about leveraging partnerships in a data-centric fashion. If partners use your cognitive selling platform to win deals, it creates a positive win-win feedback loop.

Operational Foundations for Success

To master cognitive selling, you must build winning operational foundations to confront the multi-front battle. It is insufficient to merely deploy technology.

Emphasize an agile sales team with an adaptable mindset to work with AI tools. Use design thinking to ensure AI solutions complement human resources effectively. Establish agile AI operations that innovate through AI and respond to the ever-evolving landscape of generational and causal AI. Adopt a product-centric delivery approach that prioritizes measurable value and outcomes.

The Human Element: Still An Indispensable Differentiator

As you embrace cognitive selling, remember that the human connection cannot be replaced by AI. The key to success lies in combining human and AI resources in a symbiotic fashion to achieve cognitive selling. The challenge must be seen as a strategic innovation endeavor rather than an operational efficiency one.

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The winners will be those who can use generative AI strategically to gain a competitive advantage. The implies investing heavily in AI innovation as a core sales competence.

Cautionary Notes: Cognitive Buying and Strategic Innovation

In this era of cognitive selling, it’s essential to recognize the emergence of cognitive buying too! Buyers will also leverage AI to make informed decisions. To succeed, you must match their sophistication with your AI capabilities.

Additionally, avoid the zero-sum game by focusing on strategic innovation that sets your AI apart from the rest. The winning move is to artfully blend the best of cognitive AI techniques with effective SalesOps and sales-team leadership. Proprietary technology, architectures, business processes and ops are all required.

Conclusion: Embrace the Cognitive Selling Era

The cognitive selling era is upon us, and it’s a race to master the best AI capabilities. Cognitive selling goes beyond deploying simple chatbots; it demands a strategic AI innovation commitment with an integrative approach. By combining human intelligence with powerful AI solutions, you can uncover hidden opportunities, optimize sales performance, and secure your position as a frontrunner in the cognitive selling revolution.

Are you ready to seize this opportunity and transform your sales organization into a powerhouse of cognitive selling? Invest in strategic AI innovation and redefine what’s possible in consultative sales. The future is here, and it’s time to embrace it.

Frontier AI offers a unique multi-disciplinary approach to digital transformation using cognitive AI, highly optimized for transforming enterprise sales teams who wish to embrace cognitive selling.

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