Generative AI for B2B SaaS — How AI Is Transforming Sales in 2023
Whether you are a CRO, a sales executive, or an SDR, you are likely aware of the major advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology over the past few years. Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and GPT-3 have revolutionized the way sales teams are now approaching their day-to-day tasks. These tools have the promise of providing SDRs, Account Executives and Sales Managers with more accurate data and insights when they need it most. They also promise to save countless hours by taking over time-consuming administrative work that can be done much more efficiently by computer rather than human.
But will the hype prevail?
In this article we explore how AI tools are beginning to be leveraged throughout the entire buyer journey to increase efficiency and productivity for front line teams.
What is Generative AI?
Generative AI uses artificial intelligence algorithms to generate new content that mimics how humans would write. So in the simplest form (at least at the moment) Generative AI involves writing long-form text content, generating images and is in the early days of generating videos. In the future, this will involve richer modes of content and communication but for the sake of this article, we will largely talk about text and images, the most mature modalities in this fast-evolving space.
While ChatGPT has made Generative AI more mainstream and gotten many sellers’ gears turning in terms of its applicability to them, a lot of what is being overlooked right now is how exactly it can be leveraged inside of an organization’s current GTM workflow. This tech will improve sellers’ lives only if it can integrate into the motions already in place.
How are sales teams today leveraging Generative AI?
To identify how sales teams can best leverage generative AI, simply ask yourself:
What kind of content do sales teams need?
Sales teams need content that is relevant, relatable and contextual for their buyers, in order to drive awareness, earn trust and win business.To understand how Generative AI can improve the productivity and efficiency of sales orgs, let’s organize sales activities into funnel stages, and then pick apart the core content needs of those areas:
- ROI & Growth
AI for Driving Brand Awareness
While awareness is mostly associated with marketing teams, sellers are often tasked with creating awareness for themselves (personal branding), their market (category branding) and their company (product branding). This can involve a mixture of content types and modalities, such as blog posts, social media posts on LinkedIn and Twitter, videos on TikTok, and emails designed to nurture an audience.
Here are some of the core ways sales teams are using Generative AI to scale top of funnel content production:
- Blogs – It has never been easier to avoid writer’s block and come up with creative ideas now that you have AI to help you autocomplete your thoughts. Generative AI can easily help individuals write blogs and is what most people seem to be using it for today. There are plenty of tools out there that offer competitive pricing and feature sets for writing blogs such as Jasper, Copy, WriteSonic and others.
- Social Posts – It is more important than ever to develop a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, especially if that is where your primary buyers live and consume information. Generative AI can now search through news, company posts and more contextually relevant data points to generate best practice-aligned social posts optimized for any channel.
- Nurture Campaigns – Creating content just became easier but you also need to think about proper distribution, especially because your buyers live and engage in more channels than ever before. When you or your company creates a blog post, you must leverage multiple channels to push that content out. The primary distribution channel is email. When sent through HubSpot, Marketo or other Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP), emails can reach large audiences. Generative AI can now help you ingest blog content, regurgitate a relevant nurture stream that references the content, and then publish to your MAP for sending.
- Event Follow-Ups – Your company is likely running events like webinars, conferences, dinners and other demand generation programs to meet new buyers. You’ll need to ensure that you can invite all the ideal prospects to the events, remind them leading up to it, and follow up after the event in a timely fashion. Generative AI can help with all of that email creation and automate the sending.
AI for Sales Prospecting
The art of prospecting is a great example of where generative AI will make an impact due to its ability to automate many of the mundane tasks associated with it. Sales teams will benefit from being able to focus more on closing deals rather than spending time on researching and crafting content.
Most notably, Generative AI can now help automate the process of creating engaging, personalized touch patterns that convert. Sales teams can create content quickly and easily, without spending hours researching prospects or writing personalized emails. This not only saves time but also leads to better results as the AI can craft content that resonates with each prospect based on the research it’s able to collect on the person and their company.
When we think of personalized outbound, here are the five biggest areas for streamlining content creation using Generative AI:
- Email Sequences & Cadences – Multi-touch sequences that are generated for specific sales engagement platforms like Outreach, Salesloft, HubSpot and others will soon all be written by Generative AI using performant data and following industry best practices.
- Call Scripts – Call scripts can be automatically generated by AI going forward and can even be written on a per-prospect basis.
- Manual Email Steps – At least a few of the emails inside a sequence or cadence tend to be manual steps that require personalization. These emails can now be written by AI based on the research on the prospect, the company, the funding and technographic information. Most sequences are dominated by automated steps, but this suddenly allows for more of those touches to be personalized. Companies like Regie.ai are already introducing this dynamic functionality into sequence writing.
- Videos – Generative AI startups like Tavus can help create personalized 1-1 videos that can be sent to prospects, saving you time and resources on creating those assets in-house.
- Calls – We will soon witness personalized voicemail drops and I predict it’ll be possible to make calls automatically using AI at some future date.
AI for Engaging Pipeline
Once you have your prospect on the proverbial line, how do you keep them engaged? That is where the real art and skill of sales starts to take shape, especially if you have long sales cycles and complex deals that often require multi-threading and consistent nurturing.
Generative AI can have a profound impact on sales teams’ ability to maintain movement in their pipeline by automating various engagement points, and quickly identifying and analyzing customer data (including events, behaviors, and interests) to determine the next best action for sustained engagement. Sales teams can now spend more time developing relationships with prospects, which is what they are hard-wired to be great at, and less time on mundane tasks that can be automated by computers such as follow-ups.
By leveraging the power of AI, sales teams can make sure that each customer is getting the best experience possible while they spend time on the most valuable actions. Here are some of the immediate ways Generative AI is going to help AEs with pipeline engagement:
- Sales Collateral – Customer case studies, testimonials and other collateral can be built using Generative AI. Oftentimes the internal content creation workflow between sales, marketing, ops, and other functional areas, can be time-consuming. Generative AI can jump start that creation process for all team members.
- Post-Call Follow-Ups & Replies – A lot of tech platforms are retrofitting their solutions to include generative capabilities specific to email and call follow ups. For instance, Outreach, Microsoft and Gong have all announced that they will soon be utilizing Generative AI to do transcriptions of calls and automate the follow-up emails. Other startups like Oliv are also AI assistants for sellers in this space that help draft replies to sales emails, objection handling, and more.
AI for ROI & Growth
Lastly, companies should also consider leveraging Generative AI to maximize their customer expansion motion by helping sales teams identify customer trends, track customer sentiment and establish better relationships. All of these activities can result in an improved ROI for companies looking to protect and grow the base of their business.
There are two clear ways Generative AI will help Customer Success, Cross Sell and Upsell motions that support target account growth:
- Cross-Sell, Upsell Sequences and Retention – Generative AI can help write sequences to begin renewal conversations 90 days before renewals are due.. Similarly, AI can also monitor account activity and suggest cross-sell and upsell email sequences and cadences that are timed-bound based on the user journey.
- Customer Support – This is an area where AI will shine easily. Whether that is customer support on the website or on calls, Generative AI is sure to help provide exceptional, well-timed and accurate service for customers needing support and it will only get better as the technology and underlying datasets are refined.
The applications of Generative AI for sales are just getting started—what’s next?
Generative AI is proving to be a powerful tool for sales teams, helping them scale and automate their workloads. From data-driven conversations with prospects to intelligent account analysis and renewal notifications, sales teams globally are using AI as part of their toolkit to deliver vastly improved results, boosting productivity and helping them win more.
As this technology continues to evolve, we are sure to see even more advances in its application in sales. Which reminds me… I need to start writing an article that contains my predictions for the future…
Srinath Sridhar, CEO & Co-founder, Regie.ai
Srinath Sridhar is an experienced veteran in the tech industry with over 15 years spent leading high-performance Engineering teams for some of the most notable tech companies. He was part of the early 100-person Engineering team at Facebook and was a Founding Engineer at BloomReach. While there he worked on their innovative Search and Recommendation engine that has influenced the entire search and recommendation ecosystem we utilize today. Srinath also co-founded Onera, an AI Supply Chain startup, which was subsequently acquired by BloomReach.
Sridhar has his PhD in Computer Science specializing in Algorithms and Machine Learning from Carnegie Mellon and has written numerous patents, publications and textbooks on AI. Srinath’s knowledge and understanding of AI are rare even among the experts. He is currently Co-founder and CEO at Regie.ai, a Generative AI Platform designed for enterprise sales teams.