8 Major Sales Automation Trends to Watch in 2024
By - Nick Saraev
Sales automation is on the verge of its biggest leap yet, and it's all thanks to artificial intelligence.
Don’t take our word for it. According to Business Insider, AI is already saving American sales professionals roughly two hours of work per day, even with less than a third of sales workers having embraced the technology.
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Sales professionals are increasingly leveraging AI to streamline and optimize everything from prospecting and outreach to scheduling. And this is only the beginning of what’s to come.
While critics have suggested AI will replace human workers — the reality is far more simple: AI is simply the natural evolution of existing automation processes and tools. In previous years, we saw the early stages of that evolution. Meanwhile, 2024 looks to be a promising year for sales automation.
So, what’s on the horizon this year? Here's what to expect in the coming months, according to seven top sales experts.
1. AI Will Be a Game-Changer for Prospecting
"Artificial intelligence really shows how innovative a platform can be for little things. Right now, it takes so much time to find what you need to gain value out of customer data. But with AI, you can instantly find what you're looking for."
Brian Stahovich, Sales Director at Integris Lighting
Sales prospecting has an information problem — there’s just too much of it.
Finding prospects often feels like searching for a needle in a digital haystack, never mind qualifying and engaging with leads. Many sales teams rely on manual prospecting to build out leads, but this isn’t sustainable over the long-term.
With AI, companies will be able to offload manual prospecting. AI prospecting tools will be able to identify and qualify leads, freeing up considerable time and bandwidth and improving their competitive advantage.
Stahovich sees a future where this technology is an essential must-have for top-performing sales teams.
2. The Generative AI SaaS Market Will Become Noisey
“The winners in 2024 will be the professional salespeople, sales managers, business owners, and entrepreneurs who learn how to leverage technology to give them more time to give their prospects the only two things they really want and need: experiences and exclusivity.”
Wes Schaeffer, Professional Sales Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Founder of The Sales Whisperer
Over the past year, many of the same people who tirelessly promoted NFTs and blockchain started plugging generative AI as some kind of silver bullet for productivity. In 2024, they'll be joined by countless SaaS vendors looking to capitalize on the latest AI trend.
That’s because generative AI is more accessible than ever before thanks to the availability of GPTs. When it comes to these tools, there is no barrier to entry.
Either way, Schaeffer believes many of these claims will be clickbait — and anyone unfortunate enough to fall for it will line someone else's pockets while gaining little in return.
And while it’s likely there will be no shortage of vendors that fail to deliver on the AI revolution, there will be plenty of solutions that leverage AI to great effect. But how does one tell the difference?
“Whoever figures out how to use sales automation to identify their best prospects then reach out to them with a personal email, a live phone call, a real text, a real message, or comment or share on social media will win.” - Wes Schaeffer
Choosing the right tools means finding SaaS vendors that take a multipurpose approach that caters to a diverse range of use cases. Look for companies that tell you exactly what they can deliver, how they do it, and what results you can expect.
3. Personalization Will Put Renewed Focus on Human Intelligence
"Decision-makers are fed up with talking exclusively to robots, as they feel machines don't understand their problems. To succeed, you'll need to tailor what you do as you can't automate everything; it's still too impersonal. AI tools might help sales organizations understand how to target their leads and how to reach them, but that information is meaningless without a human at the end of the chain."
Rafael Torreblanca, Managing Director at Acrobits
The enormous potential of generative AI is wasted on organizations that try to use the technology as a complete replacement for human professionals. Artificial intelligence is at its best when paired with human intelligence. This is especially true in sales.
"Every deal I've completed includes a human component," Toreblanca explains. "The bigger a deal is, the more important that human interaction at the end becomes. It's pure psychology – we see humans as more trustworthy than machines."
The sales cycle today is 80% busy work and 20% skilled work. Sales teams that understand this and leverage automation to empower their people will outperform those that don't. AI can take care of the cumbersome, repetitive manual work at the beginning, leaving salespeople free to focus their full attention on relationship building and taking a deal across the finish line.
4. AI Will Make Intelligent Cold Calling Possible
"Emails are flooding inboxes at an unstoppable rate, and prospects are constantly bombarded with marketing. The big challenge with cold calling has always been to cut through that noise – to reach a prospect at the right time and with the right message. The data provided by AI-driven sales tools makes that significantly more feasible."
Derek Nugent, Vice President of Cybersecurity Sales, Difenda
Cold calling has always been a bit of a contentious topic in sales. Some experts swear by the tactic, asserting that it remains the best way for an organization to grow and thrive. Others regard it as a pray and spray-type approach.
Even if you somehow reach a prospect who would be interested in your product, there's no guarantee they'll be ready to buy.
Timing really is everything — and AI can help sales teams absolutely nail that timing — analyzing everything from market trends to behavioral indicators to identify the best time for a salesperson to reach out.
With this in mind, Nugent believes that 2024 will see an increasing number of sales teams using AI to guide their outreach. However, a balanced approach will be needed. Companies that try to offload the entire cold calling process to AI could damage their reputation and frustrate their customers.
5. Conversational AI Chatbots Will Play a Huge Role in Sales and Marketing
"Chatbots are now capable of handling complex questions and quickly responding to prospects about products and services, guiding them through websites and improving the customer journey. This capacity to prime prospects without expending the sales team's bandwidth will cause sales funnels to swell by making it easier to secure leads and close deals."
Rick Garcia, Founder and Chief Operating Officer at G12 Communications
It's easy to forget that, at its core, ChatGPT is an extremely sophisticated chatbot.
And sure, we’ve all read about the various mistakes made by early chatbots. But, according to Garcia, ignoring this trend would be an enormous mistake.
Chatbots built atop large language models are able to parse and respond to increasingly complicated queries in an increasingly human-like way. This makes them a perfect complement to other sales automation tools, improving the customer journey with on-demand information, support, and personalization.
More importantly, it provides companies with an always available tool that can engage and support customers wherever they are in their journey.
6. Consolidation of Sales Teams and Tech Stacks Will Continue to Accelerate
"I'm personally expecting 2024 to see the ongoing acceleration of consolidation; more tools becoming part of more all-encompassing platforms. But the intriguing piece will be where generative AI fits in. Does it replace tools or make them better, or will there be a lot of panic, excitement and anticipation over nothing?"
Richard Smith, EMEA Vice President of Sales at Allego
Most sales technology stacks are inefficient jumbles of point solutions, forcing sales professionals to jump between multiple solutions to close even a single deal. This is not only costly and time-consuming for the business but also exhausting for salespeople. In Salesforce's 2023 State of Sales Report, 66 percent of sales representatives admitted that they feel overwhelmed by the number of tools in their technology stack.
And there’s the human component too. AI has the potential to streamline specific tasks within an organization. For example, an off-shore call center screening leads may not be needed anymore if AI can handle this process.
Realizing this, businesses began the long and complex process of streamlining and consolidating their tools, technologies, and people – a trend that will continue long beyond 2024.
7. Analytics Will Remain as Important as Ever
"Sales analytics and forecasting empower you with actionable insights. Sales automation takes that a step further by offering real-time data aggregation, analysis, and trend-based forecasting."
Tetiana Savkova, Production Director at T-Style Limited
Sales has always been a data-driven discipline. After all, the more your team knows and understands about prospects, the more effectively they can sell.
Unsurprisingly, analytics technology has been gradually improving over the past decade — but AI promises to supercharge this evolution to an unprecedented extent.
"In 2024, AI tools will quickly refine marketing data, enabling faster pivots, more targeted micro-campaigns and hyper-personalized content," adds Garcia. "Sales and marketing pros will be able to deliver campaigns that cater to more targeted segments and respond automatically to prospects engaging in near real-time."
With AI, companies will be able to analyze data at scale faster than ever before. This could include everything from analyzing customer sentiment, helping managers make sense of reports and metrics, providing multiple options in a specific scenario, and more.
What we know is clear: AI will allow companies to extract even more information from the data they collect.
8. Companies Will Better Understand Where to Use AI
“People are quickly learning where they can use AI effectively. AI doesn’t eliminate the need for humans. It makes them more efficient at what they do.”
Vivek Zaveri, Founder & CEO at Meera.ai
Even just a year ago, the narrative was all about AI. Every company wanted to integrate AI into their processes.
Fast-forward to today and not much has changed — except for one key thing: companies better understand where they can leverage AI.
We now understand that trying to integrate AI into everything at once is a recipe for disaster. This has led to companies taking a crawl, walk, run approach to AI. They are now identifying a few compelling use cases, implementing and testing, and scaling from there.
Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the sales funnel is often a sensible starting point. Automating the busy work at the top of your sales funnel not only provides significant cost savings, but it adds credibility to any AI initiative by earning the trust and confidence of decision-makers within an organization.
The Future Looks Bright for Sales Automation
Last year was huge for sales automation, but 2024 promises to be even bigger.
Generative AI has taken the industry by storm, thoroughly disrupting workflows, processes, and technology stacks.
The big winners of the coming year will be those companies that understand how to proactively take advantage of this shift.
Whatever happens: 2024 is going to be an exciting year for sales automation.