How did Microsoft transform the sales journey with AI?

Missed our AI: transforming the way you work event last week?  Don’t fret, we’re here to bring you all of the highlights from our amazing guest speaker Eleri Gibbon, Corporate Sales Director at Microsoft. Eleri shared her real-life experience of using AI Insights as a sales leader and describes the sales transformation journey that Microsoft has been on.  So without further ado, here’s what Eleri had to say…

The truth is no matter what industry you work in, most organisations seem to be faced with many of the same challenges:

  • How do you scale your business?
  • Where do you focus your people resources?
  • How can technology help empower your sellers?

Technology is also changing the way sellers engage with customers and this trend is happening across all industries. Sellers are using more technology – to manage customers, engage with new opportunities, and utilise AI to help them sell. As a result, many organisations are planning to invest more in their sales technologies to grow their business and aid in their digital transformation.

To illustrate this point Eleri shared with us some pretty interesting stats:

  • 93% of sellers are using sales technology just as much or more than in 2017
  • 73% of sales professionals use technology to close more deals
  • 53% increase in planned sales technology since 2016
  • 35% expect ML algorithmic-guided selling to be more important to their organisation in 2 years’ time

So what did they do at Microsoft, and why?

Eleri explained how Microsoft’s sales transformation really was driven by some key factors.

  1. The first is the cloud. The dynamics of the cloud fundamentally changed the way we viewed customers.
  2. In the past, it was easy to determine our highest potential customers. Take the cost of Windows and Office, and the number of employees at a customer, and you could effectively figure out the highest potential.

The cloud has completely changed Microsoft’s customer base. Take Netflix as an example, they have  a small relative employee count, but when you consider the size of their streaming service and cloud consumption, they become a massive opportunity.  Microsoft realised they had to look at all customers this way and determine how to help support them with the right Microsoft resources.

To add to this, digital selling is increasing.  As shown in the stats above, this trend is accelerating and Microsoft lacked a true scale engine to reach their customer base. And finally, the buyer – and seller – of the future will be a “digital native”. They are growing up engaging with technology, and the “AI generation” will expect their tools and experiences to be digital in nature.

Over two years ago Microsoft underwent their largest transformation of their sales organisation in over 15 years. The change was focused around 5 key pillars:

  1. Segmentation – they needed to allocate resources and serve all customers
  2. Scale capabilities – they needed to build a robust digital sales scale engine.
  3. Customer success – they had to increase their investment in helping customers get value out of the cloud after the sale.
  4. Partner strategy – they had to help partners evolve in a cloud world, and get more IP on Microsoft platforms to increase value to customers
  5. Compensation – they needed to structure compensation in a cloud world, where the value comes not from the sale, but from the consumption of cloud and services

To achieve all of this, Microsoft decided to infuse AI throughout the transformation.

As Microsoft transformed their sales organisation and how they think about allocating resources to their customers, one of the key points is how they viewed segmentation and AI helped them understand the potential and propensity to buy. Microsoft built a machine learning AI model for segmentation which helped them realise they were spreading their field resources too thin.

This model took into account a number of internal factors:

  1. Historical revenue
  2. Employee base
  3. Pipeline

and then augments these with a number of external factors, including:

  1. What industries are growing the fastest?
  2. Where is our competition investing?
  3. Who is hiring cloud engineers, based on LinkedIn data?

Microsoft are still continuing to run this model which increasingly grows smarter and smarter as it’s fed more data. This means that while field teams still input their insights, it allows them to take a different look at where they put resources.

Thirsty for more? If you would like to learn more about AI Insights and technology assisted selling, click here. Alternatively, if you missed the event and you’d like to view the slide deck, you can check it out here.

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