Before getting into enterprise software, I competed in judo, an Olympic sport, for more than 15 years. I was an Olympic hopeful. Well actually, I was hoping to go to the Olympics. (Now that I think about it, I’m not actually certain that’s what the term “Olympic hopeful” means.)

When I used to compete, I ran into three different levels of judoka (judo player).

  • Level One players were the weakest opponents because they focused only on their own attacks and techniques. No matter what, they followed predetermined plan and didn’t adapt their approach based on their opponent. It did not matter how strong or fast they were. They were very easy to beat.

  • Level Two players had a plan in mind, but remained flexible enough to adapt to their opponents. If their opponents attacked, they counter attacked. If their opponent pushed, they pulled. The faster they could react and adapt to the behavior of their opponents, the more competitive they were.

  • Level Three was the highest level of judoka. At this Olympic level of competition, players didn’t react to their opponents. Instead, they predicted using signals given from the other aspects of play: balance, stance, grip, posture, and movement. They used this enhanced level of insight to anticipate what was going to happen and keep ahead of their opponent.

Sales has the same three levels. Too many companies are still focused on level one. Their sales teams follow a script and campaigns are blindly broadcast to their prospects or customers, with little regard for the customers’ particular challenge.

Some companies are operating at level two. They use signals from their buyers to personalize their sales and marketing efforts. Using the latest technologies, they encourage dialogue with customers and use that input when developing product road maps.

The best companies—and very few B2B companies are there yet—take it even further. They are focused on the predicting the future. These level three companies know what leads will become opportunities, what opportunities will become customers, and what customers will become raving fans. If a prospect is falling out of the sales process, they can predict when and how to intervene to get them back on track.

At Salesforce, we are focused on helping companies evolve from the first level, where the CRM is a one-dimensional system of record, to the second level, where the CRM is a system of engagement. And finally, we are helping companies make the leap to the highest level, where the CRM works for them as a predictive system of intelligence.

The artificial intelligence in Sales Cloud Einstein is making this possible. AI arms teams with more intelligence, enabling them increase productivity and predictive capabilities across everything they do. Importantly, it gives sales teams better insights that build human relationships, an area where sales reps far excel beyond machine capabilities.

When it comes to Sales Cloud Einstein, we are building solutions that make AI accessible for everyone across the sales organization, for companies of all sizes. This makes people, teams and entire companies, better able to discover insights from data, recommend actions that help close deals, automate processes that give reps more time to build 1:1 relationships, and predict outcomes or hiccups that enable reps to be proactive and remain a step ahead of each customer's needs and competitor's potential attack. I’m excited for our customers to start experimenting with the features we’re announcing today—Predictive Lead Scoring, Opportunity Insights and Automated Activity Capture, you can learn more here. And, I’m even more excited about the business growth these AI solutions are going to drive.

When I think of how we’re helping our customers not only be better at their jobs, but truly advance their relationships with customers, I'm reminded of my renowned coach, Yoshimi Osawa of Waseda University, who would say to me that the key to judo is not action or even reaction, it's anticipation. Salesforce Einstein is the key behind our customers’ new intelligence edge.

Read next:  Welcome to the World of Intelligent Marketing and Analytics with Salesforce Einstein

Rights of ALBERT EINSTEIN are used with permission of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Represented exclusively by Greenlight.