First up, I’d say I see AI as something to augment human intelligence, and make the job easier and more efficient vs. something to replace sales roles. Whether we’re talking marketing, bizdev ‘cold’ calling, quota carrying b2b sales or anything else, I don’t see humans being removed from the process.
The piece stealing the headlines on social media lately has been the funky automated sales call courtesy of Air AI – watch it here if you’ve not seen it.
It’s not quite spot on, primarily there’s still a smidge too much latency for it to be seamless, but it’s impressive to see how far this has evolved, and indeed panic about how easily voice based fraud will take place in the future… Team: if I call you asking to transfer money, it’s not me!
But is this technology really going to be smarter and sharper to react to human conversational nuance than the brain of a well trained seller or BD? I don’t think so. Nor is this kind of calling likely to engender much warmth from your target customer base. It definitely can’t follow up with a coffee to build rapport. Could you use it to create an incredible script for your team, though? Yep.
What about if you’re not sure how to answer a sales objection because you’re new to the topic? Well, go and ask Bard today “How is BigQuery better for a large enterprise than Snowflake?” and you’ll get a reasoned and well constructed answer you can use in your preparations for a response to a prospect. Equally, you could use this kind of tech to give you a framework for a punchy exec summary, or similar. Reminder: don’t use Bard for anything confidential, use Duet AI for Workspace if you’re on the Google stack.
There’s also plenty of neat little copywriting tools. From more specific tools like adcopy.ai (see demo here), or simply Duet inside Workspace which I’ve now got turned on and the “help me write” feature is a superb way to get started with pretty much any topic – a marketers dream…perhaps. Again, the trade off is that (I think) to really create great and inspired content vs. something generic, you’re going to need (want!) humans involved to add that special creative spark.
Sticking with marketing, I think image generation is one of the best areas for human inspired creativity powered by large models. The technology in this area is now legitimately incredible to me, and I think if you know how to prompt it effectively, can offer real differentiated creative imagery (and soon video). Midjourney remains the leader currently, but that will almost inevitably shift to embedded tools inside productivity suites for user convenience.
The prompt I used for this blog image was pretty rudimentary, and it shows, 😉
For sales leaders, I think we’re almost at a point of being able to write simple clear human language questions and getting accurate data back, vs. tinkering with reports. That would save huge amounts of time for most teams I think. As I sit here now, I *know* we’ve got double digit numbers of GenAI opps in our SFDC instance, but could I tell you the exact sum associated with them, and likely follow-on opp value? Not in thirty seconds – which AI could help with.
Perhaps it will even look at your commit judgement, and offer insight proactively on whether your team are a bunch of sandbaggers, or whether they’re likely too optimistic and you should judge down their number.
Or maybe it’ll proactively poke members of your team at a sensible frequency to question if the stage/month combo really is correct on that opportunity in Pipeline with a week to go in the quarter…
A real opportunity for sales leaders and RevOps folks to work smarter.
Similarly, on the seller side, there will be opportunities to automate workflows in systems like SFDC quickly and simply, without tons of custom development. Perhaps also AI could contact an account owner, and prompt them to update old contact information, or help to automate logging of calls and contacts. I know this tech exists today, but it tends to be a mission to get it setup – and the point I think here that’s new is the simplicity of getting it done and rolled out.
Removing administrative tasks around sales should free up smart humans to do what smart humans in sales do best: sell.
Furthermore, if your AI automated system can help you with hyper personalisation of your message to the person/company you’re contacting, using data from a broad range of systems and sources, you’re increasing your chances of winning, e.g. sharing enriched company data, information about the person’s recent posts, vertical industry data, etc, to embed in your outreach.
I couldn’t end without mentioning the good old website chatbot – I think we’re now at a stage where you could convincingly answer initial inbound questions, qualify an opp and route it to a human accordingly – in a non-annoying way to the end user.
I often spend a bit of time talking about risks and downsides, but this post has already gotten a bit long for what I intended, so perhaps I’ll just say watch out for copyright infringement, depending on what you’re using to generate your content. Did the model source it from somewhere it was allowed to? If not, you may be putting your business at risk.
And as always, don’t believe the hype from people selling in this area. Lots of companies will promise the earth, but won’t deliver fully – especially in the near term. In the past week we’ve seen a few public headcount reductions for companies early into their journeys (Jasper AI and Mutiny). In those instances, I see it more as increased competition than the use cases not being helpful.
Oh, perhaps the biggest thing? What a huge sales opportunity the AI boom presents. Let’s go!
[Image is from Dall-E 2 with the prompt: “photo of a tall american salesman with dark hair wearing a sports blazer reaching for a peach hanging from a peach tree” -> not quite perfect as you’ll see, but shows progress. I could generate something akin to a photo with a bit more time spent, but the initial image you get back tends to amuse me when prompting.]
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