AI In Sales: What Do The Experts Have To Say? (4/4)

28 July, 2023

How to effectively use AI in the sale process, to boost lead volume, close sales, conversation intelligence, effective coaching, and more?

Initium AI has recently hosted a discussion on the role that AI can play in sales, with sales and AI experts who shared their insights and experience:

Raluca Banea , Director of Strategic Accounts & Innovation at MedEquip Depot

Alex Gohl , Senior Director of Client Development at Syndigo

Rada Mihalcea , Professor & AI Lab Director at U. Michigan and Co-founder of Initium.AI

We are excited to share the fourth part of this conversation.

Highlighted here:

  • The most important developments in AI for sales in the near future
  • How to get started with AI
  • Favorite AI tools for sales

Raluca : I would like now to ask about the most important development in AI for sales in the near future. What do you predict? And are there any challenges that companies need to overcome to fully realize AI's potential in sales?

Rada : I can start, and I'm also curious to hear Alex's perspective since he works in that space. One direction I see is personalization. AI can assist in making the sales process even more personalized without replacing sales reps. Another significant direction is decision making, as Alex mentioned earlier. There is room for improvement in assisting people by providing information from various sources. I'm also excited about the idea of training and assisting people to improve based on the wisdom of thousands of sales representatives. If that knowledge is provided in a smart way, it can be truly beneficial.

Alex : Sometimes, I think it's about trusting and leveraging AI in certain situations, allowing it to fulfill its responsibilities and functions. Building trust can be a barrier for some people. Additionally, outside of AI, there's a challenge with the abundance of solutions available. Solution fatigue or vendor fatigue is a common issue. Companies need to leverage critical functionalities and solutions as they grow, but tying all the information together can be difficult. Streamlining and consolidating information become important considerations for businesses looking to optimize costs. Overcoming this barrier and integrating information from different sources can be a significant challenge, especially for larger companies with legacy or new systems. AI has the potential to address this issue, but the specifics are yet to be determined.

Raluca : Thanks for that insight, Alex. As a follow-up question, I'd like to ask both of you: how does a company get started with AI? What steps should they take to evaluate its use in their sales processes? When a company has data in various systems, should they first connect those systems, or can AI help with data connectivity? And what potential problems with AI implementations should we all be aware of and try to prevent or mitigate?

Rada : Let me start by saying that I don't have much experience with adopting AI tools in the sales process, as I mostly come from the tech AI side. However, I believe it's important to try a few things and see what works for the company, rather than trying to prepare for everything all at once. It's about bringing everything together and having conversations with others who have used AI tools, and figuring out the low-hanging fruit in terms of areas that need improvement, such as customer experience or sales conversations. I personally like the concept of lean startups, where you try things out, see what works, and iterate instead of overthinking it. Many tools offer free trials, so you can try them out on your own before pitching them to your supervisor or the company. Curiosity and open-mindedness are key.

Alex : Indeed, there are numerous ways to incorporate AI into a business. For individual contributors, it's about exploring the technologies available and finding ones that can make you smarter and faster. Some companies offer free AI tools that you can download and use. I've even paid for some tools as a sales rep because I found them valuable, despite not getting reimbursed. For growing businesses, it's important to have internal conversations, especially with salespeople, to identify barriers and find ways to remove them for faster growth. Basic research is crucial, but it's important not to get stuck in analysis paralysis. Focus on those who are using AI technology and doing things differently. When implementing AI, ask the right questions, meet with salespeople from those companies, and consider the full picture, including onboarding, support, and future scalability. It's also important to anticipate and address potential implementation problems.

Raluca : I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about your favorite AI-based tools for sales. I'd love to hear your recommendations and see if there are any I can learn from. So, what are your favorite AI tools?

Alex : One of my favorites is Gong. It's a conversation intelligence platform that has greatly helped me and my team. I appreciate their comprehensive support and the valuable content they provide to help us overcome business challenges. The predictive insights they offer, allowing me to identify opportunities and make quick decisions, have truly impressed me. I'm also excited about some new tools we're bringing on board, but I can't disclose them publicly yet. I'll be sure to share them with you once I get the green light. Maybe I'll have a new favorite soon.

Raluca : Thank you for sharing that, Alex. I'll definitely look into Gong. Rada, do you have any favorite AI technologies that you can recommend to our participants?

Rada : As someone who primarily works on the technical side, I have my favorite packages, but they may not be what the audience is specifically looking for. My focus is on building technology that is helpful to others and improves their lives. That's why I find these conversations valuable—to understand what others need and how we can use technology to meet those needs.

Alex : I'd also like to mention Clary as a runner-up. It's an impressive tool that helps with pipeline management and replaces those dreaded spreadsheets that never seem to go away. Clary offers automation, forecasting, and a deep understanding of the pipeline, whether it's working with existing customers for expansion or acquiring new customers. They're embracing AI in innovative ways, and I believe we'll see more advancements in this area. Clary is another one of my favorites.

Raluca : It has been a pleasure spending time with both of you today. I've learned so much from this conversation, and I hope we can continue discussing similar topics in the future. Thank you for your time.

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