AI-Powered Sales: Key Tactics to Empower Sellers
Sales reps on the front line have been underserved. Tools like ZoomInfo and Outreach have helped generate new business and get us beyond quota. But, it has come with a lot of admin overhead, like creating content or exporting contact info into Salesforce (SFDC). For the first time, with GenerativeAI, there is hope that the way sellers work will significantly change.
But how exactly? How will productivity improve? How will deals close faster? How will we do better discovery? Will managers stop asking for Salesforce updates? (Imagine that!). We’ll look at real examples of how life will change and what we can do to prepare.
Personalized prospecting emails and content creation are just the first steps. There is more than meets the eye. But to fully appreciate how our world is about to change, it’s important to understand what GenerativeAI is.
Generative AI simplified
Imagine someone was to ask you to predict the next words to the sentence “I will be late to___”. Answers could be “…pick up the kids” or “…the pool party!”
Based on the context, the predicted answer would change. A parent’s answer is different from a teen’s response. GenerativeAI is good at predicting the next words, given some context.
This means that, for the first time, machines can understand language and context. They can read, write and draw! AI made sense for me when I imagined it to be a young child. It can “understand” things, “do” jobs, and converse.
And with time and data, AI’s understanding will mature to become an adult. So, what would you have your adult replica do?
1. High Definition sales coaching, available on-demand
Realistic role-playing simulations will up-level reps sooner
Reps are starving for coaching. In a remote world, managers can’t sit in on every rep’s call or learn the product well enough to provide thorough coaching.
However, GenAI built on recorded customer call data can simulate a real customer conversation, including questions and objections! Just add a face and voice to the text being generated, and boom, you have a customer. F1 drivers train on car simulators, and Spotify’s new “DJ” is a GenAI voice. It sounds like a DJ on the radio playing your favorite hits.
Role-playing has always been superior to reading slide decks or watching videos. As a result, reps will be able to ramp up, contribute faster and build confidence. I was stunned to hear that reps at Zoom would prefer to learn from AI bots rather than humans — because bots don’t judge.
Just-in-time training reduces ineffective enablement session
While I appreciate (and have conducted) product or competitor training around QBRs, it can be challenging to retain the information. Especially if it takes time to be applied.
On-demand simulations will provide reps with practice topics just-in-time for maximum impact. GenAI can constantly learn from customer calls, providing many real-world scenarios. Sales-enablement team’s challenge will be to moderate and determine what to learn now versus just-in-time.
AI guidance will ensure great discovery and best practices on every call
Numerous sales leaders at scale-ups have told me: “We’re going back to basics,” no matter how tenured their teams are — getting the three whys, confirming timelines, setting next steps on the phone, confirming the Champion and EB.
Once GenAI is trained using recorded sales-calls, it can start nudging reps to improve their behaviors. Simple ones like ‘5 mins left, confirm next steps’ or more complicated flows to uncover BANT using 2nd or 3rd-level discovery. It excites me to think how repeatedly good calls will improve morale and bottom lines.
2. Repetitive admin tasks will auto-complete
Manually updating SFDC will be a thing of the past
I’ve had my fair share of managers nagging me to update opportunities, Clari, and other tools.
AI’s ability to understand language means it can follow conversations between the buyer and the seller. GenAI understands Next Steps, 3 Whys, pain points, and MEDDPICC. Because of this, it can auto-fill SFDC after a customer interaction. This saves reps time and effort, and it also helps to ensure that data in SFDC is in the customer’s voice and up-to-date. Many reps have told me that this could help to improve trust between them and managers. And also redirect time to prospecting.
Follow-up emails will write themselves, and scheduling will happen without humans in the loop
Note-takers can already produce decent summaries and identify action items because they understand language. As models learn company context, accuracy will improve too. This will be extended to follow-up emails. Emails will auto-generate and wait in the seller’s Draft folder, ready for review & send. No more re-listening to Gong calls at 1.5x or searching transcripts before manually writing follow-up emails. GenAI bots will do the gymnastics of scheduling meetings across 3+ people. All this time will be reallocated to prospecting or working with the customer.
Creating & updating internal docs for sales engineers and management will be easier with Generative AI
Many reps feel like “content creators.” Some of it is valuable work, like building our Command Of The Message decks after a call. But some of it is not, like constantly re-jigging notes into Google Docs or Sheets for our sales engineers or managers.
Similar to follow-up emails, GenAI will auto-generate the pitch deck and then turn notes into whatever format is requested. However, the capability of artificial intelligence to work across tools is still in its early stages. Steve Brockman’s example of ChatGPT providing dinner ideas, posting them on Twitter, and then auto-ordering ingredients with Instacart is a great example.
Answering customer questions will take near-zero effort
How often have we answered similar customer questions via email? Or gone searching for an answer by reading blogs, technical docs, Highspot, Google Drive, and asking our sales engineer?
Once GenAI is trained on the company’s knowledge base (like blogs, technical docs, white papers, and support tickets), answers to customer questions will be automatically generated. Just like Gmail’s Smart Compose feature, but with your company data and tech docs or links attached.
Imagine when a customer asks about security or integrations. GenAI will automatically search for the answer, paste a response, attach a URL or white paper, and have a draft for the AE or SDR to… simply hit Send. And this may all happen right in the AE or SDR’s Gmail inbox. In many cases, emails or support tickets will auto-reply, like chatbots. This will reduce the workload on reps, customer success and technical support teams while improving accuracy and response times. Intercom is starting to roll this out. AEs or AMs interactions will be seen as higher value-added partners in the sales process without creating new work for them.
3. The cross-functional collaboration will happen without creating new work
Reps won’t have to content-create for Product teams
Reps bring back learnings from the front lines, which Product Managers find valuable. The extra-email-thread or 30-min sync with the PMs reduces time towards sales activity. What’s worse is that PMs need aggregated observations rather than one-offs.
GenAI call summaries may be enough for PMs. AI agents may sit on customer calls and send data back to PMs or automatic data entry info SFDC can solve this. There is pain here that can be addressed.
4. Relevant (not personalized) content creation is accelerated
Relevant messaging will be more critical than personalization
GenAI’s ability to personalize for prospecting, social media content, or marketing nurture is remarkable. This has been covered broadly, so I’ll make one new point. What happens when every email I receive is personalized?
Relevance becomes paramount. Relevant emails address timing. When GenAI begins weaving in intent triggers (key hires, change in leadership, product announcements, content-click-through or poor product reviews on G2), GenAI prospecting will get exponentially more interesting.
So what can we do to prepare?
Make managers feel our pain and educate them
The initial impact of GenAI is felt more by individual contributors than sales leaders, who may not use the tools but will likely be part of the buying committee. Educate them on your daily challenges, which they may not have faced in their time. Test the tools with colleagues and mention them in meetings.
Ask: “Does it add work or remove work?”
If the new tool or process creates more work, then slow down! If exporting contact data into CRMs has created more clicks, wait. We’re bogged down with mundane admin tasks in the first place because of the older class of tools.
Pick your battles wisely
Consider which AI sales tool would have the most impact on your daily routine. Imagine replicating yourself and delegating some of your daily tasks to your replica — which tasks would you assign?
I hope this makes you bullish about the future impact on AI on our day-to-day lives as sellers. Or maybe not — if so, I’d love to learn what you see as the future. A lot of this seems far-fetched. Just like Generative AI seemed 2 years ago…