Artificial Intelligence in the Sales function…

Published by  – 18 April 2024

Today, we interview Mustapha BENKALFATE, AI Sales Transformation Partner at Halifax Consulting.

Hello Mustapha, would you like to introduce yourself?

I’m Mustapha Benkalfate and I’ve joined Halifax to develop the AI and Sales practice. The sales function is indeed the one where the positive impacts of AI are predicted to be strongest according to a recent McKinsey study. I have an entrepreneurial background and set up my own AI company several years ago. I’m also a LinkedIn Learning Instructor on Artificial Intelligence. I have consolidated my expertise through online training and in India, as well as through exchanges with technical executives from major companies such as Meta and Google, as well as renowned researchers. I position myself as a bridge between the science of AI and the general public, facilitating understanding and adoption of this revolutionary technology. Previously, I set up and then sold my own company specializing in preparation for the grandes écoles entrance exams.

How do you see the impact of AI on sales excellence: evolution or revolution?

Integrating AI into sales excellence aims to solve the challenges and frustrations faced by salespeople and managers. It is a tool for improving the performance of sales teams by effectively exploiting available data. For example, to optimize appointment preparation, better understand customer needs and streamline account management. I think it’s a revolution, but one that will come from the bottom up, by imagining all the possible applications. To achieve this, AI training is crucial. It’s the salespeople and managers who will imagine and develop the solutions they need. But for this to happen, everyone must first understand what is possible.

Can you give us some initial concrete illustrations of AI?

An obvious example is the integration of AI into Linkedin’s Sales Navigator, enabling greater personalization of customer interactions and optimization of prospecting strategies. But we are also seeing the emergence of applications in the world of coaching, for example, to improve training with immediate feedback, or in market and information intelligence.

What are the challenges facing sales managers?

There is obviously a risk of being left behind by competitors who are rapidly adopting AI. For example, in the automation and individualization of prospecting, or in prospecting targeting. But there are also potential dangers associated with the unsupervised use of technologies such as Chat GPT. There’s also the risk that sales management will want to practice “wait and see”. We already know that the use of generative AI by sales staff is massive, even though the potential risks are well known. I therefore stress to my customers how vital it is for companies to anticipate and train their staff in AI, in order to fully seize the opportunities. Teams need to be provided with concrete use cases to foster a better understanding and successful adoption of this technology.

Where to start?

The AI adoption process can be approached in three key stages: the acquisition of relevant information, specialized training and the gradual implementation of the necessary transformations within the company. That’s why we’re offering a training path applied to these 3 phases, with certification and concrete applications by the participants themselves.

Where do you stand on AI concerns?

Adopting AI is inevitable, and refusing to do so can have damaging consequences for businesses. I strongly encourage informing, training and supporting employees to overcome initial fears and capitalize on the opportunities offered by this technological revolution. Integrating artificial intelligence into the commercial sector opens up exciting new prospects, but requires a proactive and well-thought-out approach, including thorough awareness-raising, specialized training and proactive risk management. When it comes to prospects, not all companies have realized that the AI market (growing at 37.3%/year over the next 10 years) is a cakewalk for them too. Every company will soon have AI products and services on sale. Hence the constantly revised estimate of a $20 trillion market by 2030. Companies that successfully navigate this new technological environment will be better positioned to prosper and innovate in tomorrow’s business world.

  • Logo linkedin