Using AI to Drive Revenue

Three quick wins for sales leaders.

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While much of the conversation around artificial intelligence in distribution has revolved around optimizing operations to save time and money, we’ve seen firsthand how AI technologies can transform sales and marketing to have a more direct impact on revenue.

With many distribution companies just beginning to experiment with AI, sales leaders who embrace it fully will see a significant competitive advantage. 

Here are three easy ways to start implementing it into your sales processes — now. 

Three Ways to Use AI in Distribution Sales 

Cross-selling and Upselling

About 35% of what consumers buy on Amazon comes from personalized recommendations, according to McKinsey. The company creates a unique experience for every customer using an algorithm they’ve fine-tuned over more than two decades. They already know if we order a new swimsuit for our family’s spring break trip, we’ll probably need sandals, too. Now, they can use AI to analyze reviews from other customers and warn us if the sandals are frequently returned because they run small. 

Distributors have historically had a hard time upselling and cross-selling because of data disconnect. 

Most distributors use an ERP to manage inventory and ordering, but they often have a separate system (typically CRM software) for communicating with customers. 

That’s a problem when a sales rep is on the phone with a customer placing an order. Even in the most popular CRM solutions, they can’t easily see what other products that customer has purchased or what related products are most often sold together. 

Fortunately, AI models can analyze large volumes of data and make upsell and cross-sell recommendations easily accessible to sales reps as they engage with customers. This helps them increase the value of every order while helping your reps take a more consultative approach to sales. 

If a customer orders a condenser coil, the rep might offer an expansion valve, refrigerant and an air filter based on what other customers have ordered most often. 

Your customer may not have even realized they can order all those parts from one place, saving time and shipping costs. 

Reminding Customers to Reorder

Companies that sell directly to consumers often have more insight into our buying habits than we do ourselves. They know when we’re likely to need shampoo again, and they might even offer us a coupon for our favorite brand. 

Timely business intelligence can help distributors recognize similar patterns and compile them into reports or dashboards. AI analyzes individual customer data to turn those insights into more useful, immediate recommendations. 

When your sales reps use AI along with automated notifications through a CRM and mobile app, you have an unstoppable selling machine. Your reps can reach out to customers to remind them of what they need before they’ve even thought to place an order.

In addition to increasing the consistency of orders, this proactive approach strengthens customer relationships. 

Turning Slow-Moving Stock into Sales

Many distributors struggle with a lack of real-time visibility into product performance. By the time they realize they have excess inventory, it might be too late to sell those products at a profitable price.

AI can give distributors insight into slow-moving stock by analyzing purchasing and ordering patterns. It can also help analyze customer buying patterns to help sales and marketing teams determine which customers have purchased those items most often. 

This insight opens up new opportunities for more targeted emails and ad campaigns, increasing sales and marketing ROI. 

Sales reps can even use AI to quickly draft emails and product pages to support these campaigns. They can write more compelling subject lines and offers based on data that has trained AI models, resulting in higher conversions. 

How to Introduce AI Tools to Your Sales Team

The way you communicate the value of AI technologies to your sales team is just as important as how you implement them. Without their buy-in, you’ll struggle to get the full value out of even the most intelligent solutions. 

As a sales leader, you have the power to offer simple, practical ways your team can use AI to make their jobs easier. Asking everyone to experiment with different tools and hoping they share what they learn is no longer sufficient. Giving them yet another solution with a new login to remember and a lack of a clear process to follow won’t work, either. 

For AI to be truly valuable to your sales team, it needs to be built into the technology they’re already using. 

And it should be as intuitive as placing an order on Amazon. 

Help Your Sales Reps See Their Next Best Actions with AI

Integrating AI into your sales processes can dramatically increase your revenue, and the sooner you start, the greater your competitive advantage will be. 

To make the most of AI, you need to start with a foundation of strong business intelligence and a CRM that helps your team act on the best opportunities. 

At White Cup, we’re using AI in our CRM and BI software to show sales reps their next best actions for an immediate impact on revenue. 

Distribution sales reps and sales leaders can see AI-powered recommendations for the top related products to sell to customers based on their order history and get notified when those customers are likely to reorder. They can see which products are moving slowly and get a list of customers most likely to buy them so they can turn those liabilities into revenue opportunities. 

As a sales leader, you can even work with us to build a custom AI model for predictive sales forecasting so you don’t have to spend hours analyzing profit and loss statements. 

You can spend more time identifying the best growth opportunities and training your team in the skills that help them close deals — asking better questions, actively listening, overcoming objections, and using critical thinking to find the best solution for every customer. 

Kristen Thom is the vice president of product at White Cup.

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