AI for sales: 3 key takeaways from Dreamforce

Posted September 28, 2023

By Kevin Bognar

SVP of Sales at Outreach

I recently had the incredible opportunity to speak at this year's Dreamforce conference on, “How to make AI-powered selling your competitive advantage.” As a sales leader, I practice a growth mindset. I strive to see the opportunity in every challenge — and to help the sales teams I work with see them, too. AI is the single greatest opportunity for sales leaders to increase productivity and revenue, if they’re willing to step outside their comfort zones. And there’s a lot of incentive to embrace AI in sales. 

AI has the power to automate manual tasks and help sellers in the moment during critical buyer interactions. When used effectively, AI also boosts rep productivity and helps sellers focus on the strategic actions that actually close more deals faster.

It’s no coincidence that 61% of sales teams that exceeded their revenue goals used automation in their sales process, according to a HubSpot survey.  

At Dreamforce, Alexa Vignone, Executive Vice President of Comms, Media and Technology at Salesforce, highlighted the role of AI in revolutionizing industries, likening it to the PC revolution. 

Major transformations are happening right now, and sales leaders who aren't paying attention will get left in the digital dust.

Make sure you’re staying future-ready by leveraging these 3 takeaways from Dreamforce on how AI-powered selling is your competitive advantage:

1. AI thrives in a cohesive data ecosystem

When times are good, it’s easy to pass the credit card around and just grab the next bright and shiny tool to “help reps.”

In a past sales leadership role, I once inherited a tech stack that consisted of one system for prospecting, another tool for recording calls and meetings, other processes and systems for deal management and mutual action plans, PowerPoints and spreadsheets to report on pipeline, and an entirely separate tool for forecasting. I’m sure this situation sounds familiar to you, too, because the average sales team uses 10 tools to close deals.  

As much as I wanted to evolve, I couldn’t because my technology was stuck in silos.

Valuable deal signals fell through the cracks because disconnected tools can only share insights based on what they can see. And they don’t have the full picture. AI-powered selling doesn’t work if the entire sales journey isn’t powered by the same data.

The quality of that data matters, too.

Imagine buying the most advanced computer, but running it on outdated software. It's not going to perform to its potential. In a similar vein, AI-powered selling will only make a business impact when the entire sales journey — from lead acquisition to deal closure — is powered by the same high-quality data points.

2. AI connects seller actions to deal outcomes

As sales leaders, we can’t scale successful strategies if we don’t know why we won. Conversely, we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes if we can’t identify gaps in our playbooks and resolve them for future deals.

When you choose a single AI-powered sales execution platform, every single activity, insight, and deal-related interaction is captured. The right AI tech processes information from first sequence email, across calls, and during each step of the mutual action plan, until the deal is marked as “closed won.”

Through the power of machine learning, AI can analyze interactions to recommend messages, content, and actions that help entire sales teams create more pipeline, close more deals, and forecast accurately. It does this by connecting actions to deal outcomes to help us understand exactly why we won, why we lost, and what we should do to win more. 

The right AI sales platform delivers actionable insights that could be the difference between landing your next big contract or losing out to a competitor. This is why AI is more than just a tool; it’s your closest advisor.

3. AI helps sales leaders know where revenue stands.

The first thing any sales leader thinks about when they wake up in the morning is, “Are we on track to deliver enough revenue to keep the business healthy?”

To answer that question, you need a pipeline summary that shows you: 

  • Revenue to date
  • Pipeline movement
  • What your team needs to do to make quota 

Then, you should be able to use the same cohesive system you use to track pipeline to project where you might finish in the current sales period. 

By combining current deals won and historical trends, AI can actually model your remaining weighted pipeline, intra quarter business, and pulled-in deals. 

This affords you with a unique opportunity: The ability to course correct before you come up short. 

Let’s take a scenario where you don’t have enough deals projected to close this quarter to reach quota. You know that you need to increase the velocity of your pipeline. Using the Outreach Sales Execution Platform, you can go to the top opportunities list and find a large opportunity that you can try and accelerate to close this quarter.

In just 5 minutes, you have diagnosed your pipeline health and you know what to do next.  Being a sales leader will always be hard, but Outreach makes the job of problem-solving with AI that much easier.

How to put AI-powered selling into practice

Tool consolidation is more than just a buzzword. It’s  critical to running a successful go-to-market operation. Consolidating your tech stack reduces the cost and complexity behind each task and allows for the seamless flow of data to inform a more profitable, AI-powered selling process. 

Now that I use Outreach, I no longer have to jump into 20 different systems to get clear insight into sales performance and make strategic decisions. Using our AI-powered platform, I can see everything from lead acquisition to closing, and I can also zoom out to spot trends across all accounts.

Outreach’s AI-informed insights are powered by more than 33 million action-outcome pairings captured weekly. We also use more than 3 billion signals to train our machine-learning models.

Plus, our entire sales organization is operating from the same single source of truth. 

Adopting AI isn't just about staying current; it's about staying ahead. As we move into an increasingly digital era, sales teams that embrace AI-powered selling will emerge as the true victors in the sales arena.

So, as we wrap up these reflections on Dreamforce, I challenge you: What are you waiting for?

If you haven't started integrating AI into your sales strategy yet, now is the time. The future isn't going to wait, and neither should you.

Outreach CEO Manny Medina speaks with #NYSEFloorTalk’s Judy Shaw talks about pivoting from a sales engagement tool to a full AI Sales Platform and what Outreach is focused on building now.

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