With the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) writing software has gone mainstream; and it looks like it’s here to stay. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the numerous TikTok videos, newsreels, and business influencers on LinkedIn excitedly discussing how they got their robot to write an entire musical theatre screenplay about Justin Bieber teaching his cat how to do a backflip. ChatGPT is the hottest thing on the street, and everyone is lining up to try it out.
While entertaining, it’s not just long-form writing shenanigans we should be excited about when discussing GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) AI. Several powerful & exciting applications are already being leveraged across different industries & professions to drive productivity, creativity, and growth.
Sales is one of many industries benefiting drastically from the recent rise of AI. In the last year alone, businesses and sales representatives have been using AI-powered automation to streamline sales processes and assist reps in their daily activities. A study by Harvard Business Review found that companies utilizing AI in their sales process were able to increase their lead generation by 50%.
As a current software-as-a-service (SaaS) sales professional, there are many emerging trends and use cases around artificial intelligence I’m seeing within the industry that I want to share in this blog post today.
Let’s explore some of them below.
» How Is AI Being Used In Sales?
AI has different definitions, depending on who you ask. Thanks to movies, some may conjure an image of a talking computer you can converse with. Others may leap toward computer-controlled killer robots that are looking to destroy humanity as we know it. However, in the real world, we’re still quite a ways away from robots being intelligent and self-aware. So what exactly are people talking about when they talk about AI?
Let’s take a look at Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition of AI below:
Artificial intelligence is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.
In terms of sales, there are many different ways that AI can be used to execute tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. So, to begin, we’ll take a detailed look at five emerging AI technologies widely seen within the sales industry today.
» Virtual Assistants/Chatbots
Virtual assistants are computer-generated agents that automate tasks for someone based on questions or commands. They’re a key piece in any sales funnel as they speed up the process of customer service and help sales reps engage with customers more efficiently. Using natural language processing (NLP), they can intelligently create responses based on the customer’s query.
Placing a virtual assistant or a chatbot on the front page of a website can automate work for salespeople by gathering qualifying information from the prospect before automatically compiling all of that information and handing it over to the sales rep.
They’ve become staple tools on company websites, especially with the rise of e-commerce. This represents the growing shift of buyers that like to be served differently; according to Tidio, 62% of consumers would prefer to use a customer service bot rather than wait for human agents to answer their requests, and 88% of consumers used a chatbot in 2022.
Some chatbots can also automate the busy work of updating all the information. They’ll compile all customer information within the chatbot into CRM fields. This is a huge time saver for many sales teams, allowing their sales reps to focus on closing deals instead of monotonous busy work.
Chatbots can also send AI-powered notifications based on the customer’s browsing history on a website to optimize the purchase decision process, leading to more sales.
AI Virtual Assistant & Chatbot Tools:
» Cold Emailing
Machine Learning applications build mathematical models (algorithms) using sample or training data. One of the most popular AI machine learning models today, GPT-3, also known as generative pre-trained transformer 3, is an unsupervised machine learning, transformer-based language model. ChatGPT, for example, is built from a proprietary GPT model to interact in a conversational dialogue form and provide surprisingly human-like responses.
Many popular AI copywriting software tools run-off of a GPT model, and sales representatives can use these tools to create more personalized emails and messages that they can then use to engage with prospects.
For example, one common strategy that sales teams use while writing cold emails is to personalize the email’s first line to catch the prospect’s attention. A sales rep could take a copy from a person’s LinkedIn profile and ask an AI copywriting tool to generate 30 personalized first lines based on the information from the LinkedIn profile, taking away much of the difficulty.
GPT-3 AI can even be used to create complete email cadence frameworks, entire cold emails, or entire marketing campaigns. The possibilities are endless.
Unsurprisingly, many salespeople doing cold outreach are currently leveraging AI to help them improve their prospecting efforts. In fact, 41.29% of marketers believe that using AI in cold emailing increases revenue generation.
AI Cold Emailing Tools:
» Sales Coaching
Sales coaching is guiding and mentoring salespeople to help them improve their performance. It often involves providing feedback, developing strategies, setting goals, and assisting sales to reps with difficult conversations.
While robots won’t be replacing your sales manager just yet, there are sales coaching tools that will monitor a rep’s speech patterns during sales calls to detect energy level, empathy, tone, and much more. The AI software can then analyze all of these different variables, providing an easy-to-understand report for sales leaders to enable their sales teams to succeed better.
It can sometimes be difficult for managers to coach a rep on changing their tone or energy levels, but sales coaching software can provide clear, data-driven insights to help managers understand what changes need to be made and provide a starting point for uncovering more profound feedback and insights.
With remote work dominating SaaS sales and other industries, it’s becoming harder and harder for managers to find time to coach their reps. In fact, a study from RingDNA reported that ~45.1% of sales reps said they receive less coaching since switching to remote work.
Since they can no longer sit next to the rep to give them coaching in a physical office, it’s no wonder managers are utilizing AI sales coaching tools to provide valuable feedback to their reps.
AI Sales Coaching Tools:
» Sales Roleplaying
Roleplaying is an underrated way for salespeople to practice different sales scenarios and hone their sales skills. With AI, sales reps can now generate detailed customer profiles that can help them better understand their prospects and create personalized roleplaying simulations.
Picture this: a tool with a robot that spits out different statements containing:
- Sales Objections
- Needs Assessments
- Qualifying Questions
- Pain that the prospect is experiencing
The sales rep can then respond to these different statements, and the roleplaying software will generate a unique response to the sales rep’s response. This allows reps to simulate potential sales conversations and develop airtight answers to common queries or questions they’ll commonly hear from prospects and customers.
This can be a game changer and an integral part of their enablement moving forward for reps that work remotely and cannot roleplay with someone in person.
This can be an easy way to up your sales team’s enablement, as this 2018 study from Janek shows that only 20% of sales teams currently utilize sales roleplaying.
AI Sales Roleplaying Tools:
» Lead Management
One skill that some salespeople need help with is understanding which of their prospects and/or deals has the best likelihood of closing. When managing several different deals or calls, a salesperson must pick the best deals to work on, as in some cases, they may only have time to work on some of them; there’s too much volume coming in.
If a salesperson picks the wrong deals to focus on (the deals that never had a chance of closing in the first place), it can be a massive waste of time for both the buyer and the seller. Perhaps the seller did not dig deep enough into the prospect’s pain during the discovery process, missing a crucial element that killed the deal later on, resulting in a lot of wasted effort from both parties.
Worst of all – no revenue or commission for that hard work!
AI can assist in this case by analyzing a deal against a database of closed deals, giving each deal a “health score,” which allows the sales rep to see what accounts they should focus on with a glance. Using a tool like this is advantageous because it removes human error and bias when tiering accounts, leading to reps focussing their time and effort on the deals that are most likely to close.
On the prospecting side, these tools can also leverage AI-powered Bombora Intent Signals to give sales development representatives an idea of which accounts to target in their prospecting efforts. For example, companies like Bombora make a living off tracking the intent data of buyers actively researching a solution. They’ll monitor buyer whitepaper downloads, cookie data, and more. Their AI will alert you when a customer has reached their threshold of doing enough research that they’re ready to buy, allowing sales reps to swoop in with the right product at the right time.
Bombora says that 70% of B2B buyers have already fully defined their needs before reaching out to a salesperson. By finding that 70% of buyers when are looking for your product, you can significantly increase your chances of finding them before they start a sales cycle with one of your competitors. This will improve the quality of a salesperson’s opportunities, as they’ll ideally close more prospects before they can speak with competitors.
Moreover, AI lead management software and other intent tools are foundational for any account-based marketing and sales strategies. No more butting heads between sales and marketing!
AI Lead Management Tools:
» Wrap Up
It can be challenging to keep up with how rapidly AI advances and how it impacts different industries and professions. As AI sales tools become more prevalent, we’ll see more accurate and defined lead management processes, better account prioritization, and better decisions regarding a sales rep’s client engagements.
They’ll have access to accurate intent signals and better lead management systems that allow them to identify deals worth pursuing and not. As AI continues its march forward into more aspects of sales, using these tools, salespeople can focus their efforts on the deals that are most likely to close, create better account-based marketing and sales strategies, and accurately track the intent signals of prospects, so they don’t miss out on any potential buyers.
Sales professionals need to understand where AI is going and how to utilize different AI sales tools to avoid getting left in the dust by other sales professionals utilizing these powerful technologies. These are just some of the use cases I’ve seen for AI software in sales, and I can’t wait to see how the space continues to evolve from here.
Overall, AI is revolutionizing how technology is used in sales, and sales teams that don’t adopt AI within their tech stack will not be able to keep up with the competition. It’s time to start looking into AI sales tools to maximize your sales team’s potential.
Author Bio: Adam John Purvis
Adam John Purvis is an Enterprise SaaS Sales Account Manager. You can find him blogging about sales outreach, business software, blogging, and SEO at adamjohnpurvis.com. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.