January 30, 2024

How Frontline Sales Leaders Can Leverage AI and Better Data to Develop a Team of High Performers

Mariah Petrovic
How Frontline Sales Leaders Can Leverage AI and Better Data to Develop a Team of High Performers

Table of Contents

As our world becomes increasingly data-driven and AI-optimized, the sales leaders who adopt the right tools and processes now will have a competitive edge over those who hesitate. As a frontline sales manager, it’s quite likely you were a highly successful seller not that long ago. Now, as you create and enable a team of high performers, it’s smart to build efficiencies and proven data-driven approaches into your playbook from the start. Here are some steps you can take to set yourself up for success and start to facilitate real change in your sales organization. 

Part 1. Prepare your Sales Organization to Become AI-Optimized 

Step 1. Identify the areas of your sales organization that need to change. Start by identifying inefficiencies and the roadblocks standing in the way of your desired state. Then, start to think through solutions that will help get you there. Here are some challenges you may be experiencing.

Functional Area
Desired State
Roadblocks
Solution
Account planning
Tightened deal execution
Account plans are updated manually and infrequently and aren’t being followed
AI-automated, data-driven account plans embedded within CRM
Pipeline management
Increased sales velocity
Blind spots in accounts and opportunities lead to late-stage deal slips and missing revenue targets 
Proactive automated inspection of accounts and opportunities
Coaching
Improved rep performance
Inconsistent and subjective coaching based on incomplete performance data
Data-driven coaching

Step 2. Align expectations with senior management. Once you’ve identified the areas of your sales organization that need to change and how you propose to address those challenges, it’s time to gain support from senior leadership. By aligning expectations, you’re making sure they understand the impact for themselves and the organization and gaining champions for your programs. In turn, you’re committing to following through with the plans you’ve proposed. 

Step 3. Define success metrics. Determine appropriate program KPIs and reporting cadences for your programs and communicate those with leadership. What does success look like for you and your team? Some examples: 

  • What percentage of accounts have account plans and how do they improve your ability to upsell/cross-sell? 
  • How do account plans improve internal collaboration and shorten implementation? 

In other words, what behavior are you looking to change, and how are you going to measure success?

Step 4. Develop your AI roadmap. Your new program should have a complete set of activities, assets, tools, and technologies — all clearly aligned to measurable and observable outcomes that can be assessed by you and reported to senior leadership. Get a detailed explanation of how to develop an AI roadmap here

Step 5. Implement and iterate using the right tools. It’s possible to build AI sales tools in-house but it can be a months-to-years long process. There are many out-of-the-box sales AI tools that can help make an impact right away. It’s important to select sales technology that offers A. the capabilities you need to help solve your challenges, B. the insights and reporting capabilities you need to measure success, and C. robust and up to date security and data privacy protections. 

Functional Area
Desired State
Roadblocks
Solution
Account planning
Tightened deal execution
Account plans are updated manually and infrequently and aren’t being followed
AI-automated, data-driven account plans embedded within CRM
Pipeline management
Increased sales velocity
Blind spots in accounts and opportunities lead to late-stage deal slips and missing revenue targets
Proactive automated inspection of accounts and opportunities
Coaching
Improved rep performance
Inconsistent and subjective coaching based on incomplete performance data
Data-driven coaching
Relevant AI
Sales Technologies
  • Automated account planning
  • Organizational charting solution
  • Generative AI for sales
  • Revenue intelligence
  • Opportunity management
  • Conversational intelligence
  • Activity-based forecasting
  • Revenue intelligence
  • Engagement measurement dashboards
  • Generative AI for sales
  • Conversational intelligence

Part 2. Measure Success

Once you have the organizational alignment in place and the technology you need to implement changes, you can kick off your new AI-driven sales programs. Here is a table to measure the success of new programs:

Functional Area
Desired State
Account planning
Tightened deal execution
Pipeline management
Increased sales velocity
Coaching
Improved rep performance
Sales Leader Evidence
  • Leverages unified dashboard view to ensure reps are updating and following account plans
  • Leverages accounts engaged to ensure adequate territory and account coverage
  • Coaches reps to capture Total Addressable Market (TAM)
  • Team hits quarterly and annual goals
  • Leads team to shorten sales cycles, improve customer experiences, improve onboarding, and execute quicker upsell/cross-sell opportunities
  • Uses AI and revenue software to inspect all opportunities at scale
  • Ensures sellers are adopting tools and following opportunity scorecards and sales playbooks
  • Uses AI to help reps identify next best steps on opportunities at risk
  • Ensures all deals are in the correct sales stage
  • Ensures all key personas with proven buying power are engaged
  • Uses data to confirm weekly and quarterly forecasts are accurate
  • Sees a reduction in late stale deal stales and slips
  • Uses data to identify areas for improvement
  • Measures what sets high-performers apart and uses that to mentor lower-performers to success
  • Quickly and effectively on-boards new hires
  • Shortens time to reps’ first closed-won deal
  • Coaches reps on repeatable path to revenue using data
  • Uses 1:1 coaching sessions to focus on providing strategic performance advice and feedback
Seller Evidence
  • Account plans are created, adopted, and updated for every account
  • Consistently delights customers and drives cross-sells and up-sells
  • Hits quarterly and annual goals
  • Demonstrates consistent sales behaviors
  • Follows a proven path to closed-won revenue
  • Follows a consistent sales process using scorecards, playbooks, and engagement measurement
  • Uses the prescribed AI sales tools
  • Maintains a healthy pipeline
  • Accurately forecasts using actual account data rather than anecdotes
  • Qualifies deals in or out early in the process
  • Uses AI-generated relationship maps/org charts to navigate complex buyer groups
  • Leverages buyer benchmarks to determine who has a high inferred win rate and adequate buying power
  • Proactively identifies which opportunities are at risk using AI
  • Understands expectations
  • Ramps quickly
  • Demonstrates consistent sales behaviors
  • Follows a proven path to closed-won revenue
  • Sets and achieves development goals
  • Uses 1:1 coaching sessions to discuss areas that need manager support rather than reporting the news

Learn more about how you can leverage AI and better data to develop a team of high performing reps. 

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