Prospecting, research, qualification, discovery, and other pre- or post-demo activities take a significant amount of time and are challenging to perform well. However, these tasks are mandatory for successful demos and sales. Welcome generative artificial intelligence (AI) where there are now significant tools available for you to create greater efficiency and intelligence so that you can better connect with your prospect, offer higher levels of value, and sell more!
While AI has been in use for some time now, generative AI, in particular, has recently become mainstream. Several generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, have aided sales and presales professionals in various aspects of their job since they can play critical roles in making a lot of tasks easier.
The Role of AI in Presales
Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that enables machines to create text, audio, video, image, or any other type of content. People are taking advantage of its endless potential to improve personalization on various customer-facing content, smoother processes, and better systems.
Here are a few specific areas that generative AI that can help you in your role as leaders in sales and presales:
1. Understanding Customer Needs
During the discovery phase, you need to ask the customer a series of questions to understand their needs, pain points, and goals. AI can help you formulate questions that can elicit the most relevant information from the customer and highlight the capabilities of your solution specifically needed to solve your prospect’s critical business issues and problems.
As an example, Great Demo! teaches that in discovery, one must move past problems to focus on the Critical Business Issue (CBI). By asking generative AI about the main problems, key performance indicators, and other measurements for a specific job role and industry, you can ensure you have a strong understanding of the typical challenges faced by your prospect. Use this knowledge to ask intelligent questions. Doing so will allow you to better articulate and explore their pain and how your solution can provide value in solving your client’s CBI challenges.
Here is an easy AI prompt to consider: What are the KPIs of a <Job Title> at a <List Industry> company? And how is this <Job Title> typically measured?
2. Improving Customer Engagement
Keeping customers engaged throughout your sales process can be quite a challenge. With generative AI, you can provide a more personalized and unique experience for each customer. It can help by analyzing your customer’s needs and interests, then generating personalized email responses, answering specific questions eloquently, and more.
One of the most popular ways that professionals use AI is as a writing assistant. Tools like Grammarly and Jasper make it easier for sales and presales teams to compose engaging emails, proposals, case studies, and more. The rise of ChatGPT also prompted other conversational AI models to pop up which create outputs based on the input from users having human-like conversations with it. These versatile AI chatbots can provide you with a list of ways they can help you keep your customer engaged.
3. Enhancing Sales Process
Generative AI can make a big difference in the sales process itself by automating repetitive tasks like lead qualification, scheduling appointments, and sending follow-up emails. Lead generation and qualification through website chatbots and automated custom demos are just some of the ways that AI tools assist sales and presales teams towards smoother sales processes.
You can even use ChatGPT to quickly analyze and summarize meeting notes, generate an action plan based on it, and provide suggestions on how to best implement the plan. Being able to offload such tasks will give you more time to focus on high-impact tasks like building relationships and closing deals.
4. Responding to Objections
During the demo, customers may raise objections or concerns that you need to address to move the sale forward. AI can help you prepare for objections by generating responses based on the most common objections raised by customers and based on your product’s unique value proposition. You can also park questions for later and brainstorm with AI on how to best articulate the answers.
As objections come your way, you’ll need a repertoire of well-crafted responses ready to counter them effectively. You can use AI as your brainstorming partner in creating a playbook of persuasive responses based on common objections and your product’s unique value proposition. You can confidently address objections, disarm concerns, and win over your audience, paving the way for successful sales outcomes.
5. Analyzing Customer Feedback
AI tools can help you analyze the customer’s feedback using sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and machine learning techniques to identify patterns and insights that can inform your next steps. It can help you analyze the customer’s responses during your demo to easily narrow down their Critical Business Issue. AI can even help identify the value your solution can provide so that you are constantly highlighting client-specific benefits and value.
Take advantage of the sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and machine learning capabilities of most generative AI tools to decipher customer feedback. Consider asking ChatGPT to summarize and explain customer feedback and suggest the best approach when negotiating with certain customers.
Challenges of AI in Sales
Data Privacy Concerns
Generative AI relies on large amounts of data to learn and generate content that may include personal information about customers, such as their names and email address. Your team is responsible for ensuring this data will be kept secure and used only for its intended purpose. Just as you would secure a valuable item in a safe, you must ensure that customer information remains confidential and protected like a valuable asset. This could potentially help avoid trust issues with customers and potential legal consequences.
Our recommendation is to avoid using clients’ identifying information while interacting with AI. Proudly serving in the United States Air Force, I learned about a concept called ‘Essential Elements of Friendly Information’ or EEFI for short. When artificial intelligence has information from worldwide sources, it can assemble multiple pieces of friendly information, EEFIs, to determine and/or conclude more robust pieces of information. One piece of information from you could be the missing piece needed to determine a company’s strategy or perhaps provide the insights needed to guide a savvy investor or computer-based investing model. Please be thoughtful with the information that you share.
Integration with Existing Systems
Integrating generative AI with existing systems can also be challenging, especially with how complex these AI models are becoming. You may need to invest in new software or hardware to support the AI technology, and in training your team on how to use it effectively. Sales teams should be prepared for the potential hurdles that come with integrating AI technology and may consider budgeting for tools that drive efficiency and enhance sales performance.
This can be a significant investment of time and resources yet could also provide tremendous competitive benefits. Without proper planning and execution, the integration process can potentially disrupt your sales operations.
Future of AI in Presales
Increasingly Sophisticated AI Models
As AI technology continues to evolve, you can expect to see increasingly sophisticated models and plugins that can handle more complex tasks. This will enable sales teams to automate even more aspects of the sales process and provide more personalized experiences for customers. Soon, we might see AI models analyze a customer’s facial expressions and body language during a demo to determine their level of engagement and provide real-time recommendations to tailor the presentation accordingly. Like a seasoned sales engineer who can read a customer’s body language and adjust their presentation on the fly.
Imagine having a digital product specialist that can analyze loads of data, factor in things like compatibility, performance, and cost, and provide tailored suggestions to help you meet a customer’s specific set of requirements. AI and natural language processing (NLP) can make this possible with its ability to suggest additional features or configurations based on data from similar customers and market trends, you can make value creation a whole lot easier.
AI-Powered Virtual Sales Assistants
Another exciting development is the rise of AI-powered virtual sales assistants. These are AI-powered chatbots that can interact with customers in real time, answering questions, providing information, and even helping to close deals.
Virtual sales assistants can help to improve customer engagement and streamline the sales process by taking care of less complex or strategic tasks in the background. You can think of these AI-powered assistants as your very own personal assistant who can generate and qualify leads for you, analyze customer data, and advise you on the best approach for engaging with prospects.
AI is revolutionizing the world of sales and presales. It can help you streamline your sales process by providing you with the language generation and natural language processing capabilities you need to effectively communicate with customers, understand their needs, and customize your sales efforts so that you can sell more!
However, there are also challenges to consider that make AI tools risky, like data privacy and integration with existing systems. Despite these challenges, AI models continue to add significant value and knowledge. I’m excited to see how AI’s role in sales and presales will continue to evolve.
About the author
Paul H. Pearce has over 20 years of technical sales leadership and experience in Sales, Presales, Field Enablement, and Business Development. As the first certified Great Demo! training partner, he has mastered the methodology and today contributes to its ongoing success, having recently authored the industry’s newest Presales -Sales Methodology called the “Great Demo! 5 Imperatives.” Paul has consulted and trained dozens of organizations and hundreds of Presales Consultants and recommends ways to increase sales through proven methodologies and real-world experience.