As individuals, we are all too familiar with how consumer-focused, predictive marketing affects us – ‘No, thank you. I know you think I do, but I do not wish to see any more ads for shoes/cruise ship vacations/new cars etc.’
But how will Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) or predictive technology influence the B2B sales and marketing disciplines in the Partner ecosystem?
A study conducted by DemandBase in conjunction with Wakefield Research late in 2016 indicated that 80 per cent of CMO’s (of 500 firms across the US with >250 employees) believe that AI will revolutionize the marketing industry over the next 5 years. However, only 26 per cent of the respondents understand how they intend to benefit from using the technology and a mere 10 per cent employ some key facets in their current marketing endeavors.
Why the lackluster adoption? The vendors of B2B AI technology have to prove only one thing: how will their customers use it to make more money. Period.
Attempting to achieve that mandate is ‘Einstein’, the newly released set of AI technologies from Salesforce.com (‘SFDC’) that offers predictive, collaborative sales and marketing functionality. Implemented across some or all of the associated SFDC ‘Cloud’ offerings, Einstein offers a ‘machine learning’ tool that will remember various client characteristics, automate these and ‘predict’ future buying behaviors.
SFDC developed Einstein with the intention for it to dovetail with the disciplines of Sales, Service and Marketing. In a Sales context, Einstein has the ability to capture data from SFDC and then act as a ‘digital assistant’ in order to identify and in fact ‘predict’, the probability of close rate of a given opportunity.
Traditional Deal Registration programs have been deployed by vendors to simplify the client/deal identification process and positively influence Partner behaviors. In addition to reducing Channel conflict, the deal registration process provides a transparent method to measure the efficacy of their Partner programs. A convenient byproduct is a reduction in Channel conflict and the corresponding potential for higher margins.
So what happens when AI or a predictive toolset is added to these benefits? SFDC maintains that the combination will create ‘smarter sales’, a method for constructing a business process around augmented information, all delivered by Einstein.
Who among service providers would not welcome a method for predictive forecasting and a window into the great unknown of ‘the propensity of a deal to close’? Any good sales manager would be hard pressed to reject an assured way to more accurately track performance against plan and more effectively measure positive sales outcomes.
From the vendor perspective, if both an ISV and their service provider are using SFDC, the result is an efficient and collaborative tool for Partner Relationship Management. With the addition of Einstein, this bond can be strengthened engendering an increase in Partner loyalty, and vendor sales. And that can only translate to one thing – making more money.