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What is CRM artificial intelligence and what can it do for my business?

It was only a matter of time before CRM vendors started to embed artificial intelligence in their apps. Next year we’ll probably see self-aware water coolers. Skynet can’t be much further behind, right?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit far-fetched. But CRM with artificial intelligence is very much a real thing now, and it has substantial implications for your business.

CRM Artificial Intelligence

But before you start panicking about your CRM system displacing real people in sales and marketing, let’s take a moment to examine what AI is, what it can and can’t do, and how to work with it rather than around it.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Terminator 2 did a fantastic job of freaking out almost everyone who saw it. It firmly implanted the belief that an artificially intelligent race of robot death machines was on the cusp of bringing about the apocalypse at any moment. That was in 1991.

Twenty-seven years later, and with no robot apocalypse in sight (unless you count light jogging and log jumping as a threat), the practical applications of artificial intelligence have been decidedly more benign.

Today’s artificial intelligence is most visible in products like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s… well, pretty much everything. These “AI assistants,” as they’re commonly referred to, make suggestions, answer questions, plan driving routes, make dinner reservations, and perform other everyday tasks that make our lives a little bit easier.

Getting AI to this point has taken almost herculean efforts of programming and hundreds, if not thousands, of iterations before becoming usable. However, it turns out that artificial intelligence is good at analyzing data and providing helpful suggestions and insights to the humans using it.

When you look at AI in that context, it seems logical that putting it in CRM would be beneficial.

According to SugarCRM’s 2022 CRM Impact Report, the most adopted use cases for AI are

  • Automated emails
  • Account intelligence
  • Conversational AI
  • Lead conversion
  • Opportunity close prediction

CRM And Artificial Intelligence

All jokes aside, CRM and artificial intelligence are a potent combination. As the internet has become the backbone of modern sales and marketing efforts, CRM has evolved to capture and categorize a constantly growing stream of signals and data points about prospects, customers, and companies.

An employee using a CRM system in 2022 is likely to have access to not just basic contact information about a potential sales lead but also all their social media profiles, job history, and detailed statistics about every interaction that the lead has had with their company.

That is a lot of information to process and digest. Asking a salesperson to look through all that information, often on the fly, and make an intelligent decision about how to best utilize that data in their communications is, no pun intended, a tough sell.

Organizations hire salespeople to sell — asking them to become data analysts is often met with mixed results. Sometimes, it can end up impeding employees who would otherwise be excellent in their roles from doing their job effectively.

This is where artificial intelligence comes to the rescue. CRM with embedded AI gives users things like:

  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Forecasting
  • Recommendations
  • Natural language search

The goal of artificial intelligence in CRM is to let AI handle the analysis and make intelligent recommendations about a customer or prospect based on all the data about that person the system has collected.

So now, with AI, a salesperson can open a contact record, see what suggestions the system is making on how to best connect with that person, and make an informed decision without having to spend half an hour looking through their Twitter comments for clues.

Examples Of CRM With AI

Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest names in CRM are eagerly touting their new artificial intelligence expertise. Companies like Salesforce, SugarCRM, and Zoho have all integrated some form of AI into their platforms over the last few years.

Salesforce: Salesforce’s AI platform is called Einstein. Salesforce bills Einstein as a tool that “is a layer of artificial intelligence that delivers predictions and recommendations based on your unique business processes and customer data.”

Einstein can be integrated into every facet of the Salesforce CRM platform.

SugarCRM: SugarCRM has an AI product called Hint. Hint gives CRM users actionable sales intelligence throughout the selling process.

Zoho: Zoho offers a “conversational AI assistant” called Zia. Like the voice assistants built into most smartphones, but focused on CRM, “Zia is here to assist with everything from simple data to complex analytics. Talking to Zia is as simple as chatting with her from the bottom of your desktop screen or calling her from your mobile app.”

Zia Voice is only included in Zoho CRM plans at the two highest tiers, which start at $35 per user per month.

Microsoft: No sooner did we publish this post than Microsoft announced new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics.

Do You Need CRM With AI?

Do you need artificial intelligence in your CRM system, or is it another fancy add-on that won’t provide real value? As with most things, the answer will depend on your business’s unique situation.

Organizations already utilizing the full power of their CRM system will likely find a lot to like about integrating an AI tool. Those who are struggling with CRM adoption, on the other hand, may find it to be overly complicated and unnecessary.

Finally, the more data your business collects about prospects and customers, the more use you will find in a tool built specifically to analyze that data.

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