As part of the Solutions Review premium content series, a collection of columns written by industry experts on maturing software categories,Latané Conant, the CMO of 6sense shares insights on how AI technology can (and will) change the revenue technology (RevTech) market.
Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be the stuff of science fiction, but now we can barely make it to lunch without interacting with it half a dozen times. It tells us what weather to expect before we get dressed in the morning, reminds us of the appointment we almost forgot, and warns us about road closures on our way there. In our personal lives, AI is an ever-present companion, whether we realize it or not. And it is becoming an increasingly important part of our professional lives.
Over the past 15 years, B2B revenue teams have generated massive volumes of data tracking the digital transformation of B2B revenue teams. But the effective use of that data, until now, has lagged far behind. This is for two big reasons: First, while most B2B buyer, seller, and customer interactions are digital, the collection and storage of interaction data has been inconsistent, leaving significant blind spots in the data collected.
Second, the capabilities required to derive insights and actions from data had not yet been produced and made available to the masses of B2B organizations. AI is changing that, and more, in the revenue technology landscape. That will mean significant advances in what revenue teams can accomplish in the coming year.
1) AI will unlock information and illuminate blind spots
AI now makes it possible to collect and record nearly all shopper interactions, revealing blind spots and enabling a more complete, high-definition view of the B2B buying process. With this will come new insights into the volume and intensity of shopper interactions, the length of solution research, decision-making processes, and more. Plus, AI it is now integrated into various B2B marketing tools. That means better decision-making and insights in everything from content management systems to sales engagement platforms. So all that data they’re collecting? It’s about to get a lot more actionable.
2) AI will make emails infinitely more effective
There have been many developments in the way revenue teams email their leads and customers. While we’ve seen countless new tools for email implementation, we haven’t seen much technology that makes email better. What does “better” mean in terms of email? It’s about relevance. Relevancy is the difference between spam and useful communication moving forward in the customer journey. But implementing relevant emails at scale has been more than most teams can manage.
Email outreach has the potential to be an incredibly effective tool, but it’s often ignored because it’s irrelevant. In some cases, the problem is targeting (ie, it’s being sent to someone who doesn’t care about the message). In other cases, the problem is timing (ie, it is sent to the right person, but not at the right time). Organizations have long focused on perfecting subject lines to grab attention and improve open rates. While the best subject lines may get someone to look, they won’t attract that person if the timing and targeting aren’t right. The best way to improve email response rates is to improve timing and targeting. The AI is ready to help with both.
In 2022, AI will help revenue teams move away from generic email cadences that are sent to broadly specific accounts and contacts. Instead, they will be able to target much more relevant emails to audiences identified as the right people within the right organizations and those for whom now is the right time. And they will be able to do it at scale, without the need for spam.
3) AI will make forecasting more sophisticated, accurate, and aligned across the revenue team
In B2B, sales leaders have long been responsible for their sales forecasts. In recent years, the accuracy of these forecasts has been improved by AI-based data capture and analysis techniques. In 2022, these expectations and the AI-powered capabilities to support them are migrating down the funnel to the first forecast—the pipeline creation forecast. By applying the same forecasting techniques to top of the funnel marketing engagement data, marketers will be able to plan and forecast pipeline creation, enabling even better longer-term revenue forecasts.
AI will take the guesswork out of pipeline forecasting for CMOs, helping them future-proof bookings and work more collaboratively with their counterparts in sales.
AI and the future of revenue technology
In the next five years, the world will create more than double the amount of data created since the dawn of digital storage.
As data becomes exponentially more prolific and available, the challenge and opportunity for B2B revenue technology teams will be turning all these terabytes of data into a strategic advantage that will give them an edge over the competition. AI is the key to making that happen. AI is already delivering benefits in terms of optimization, insights, profitability, and more. But in the year ahead, forward-thinking B2B marketers and marketers will take advantage of solutions that will take AI to the next level and accelerate returns across the organization.