AI is Having a Moment. What Does This Mean For Sales?
You’ve probably seen your friends or people you follow post the Lensa AI art avatars on social media over the last week or so. Created by uploading 10-20 selfies and paying a nominal fee, these creations have taken the world by storm and are part of a national moment for the state of AI. We’re seeing it in other sectors, too – education from elementary to the university level discussing how to deal with AI-generated essays that dodge plagiarism detectors, and the New York Times writing about OpenAI’s ChatGPT program that is capable of generating text and images in seconds. The looming question about all this – what does the moment and AI mean for the sales industry?
It’s already been here
AI has been in use in sales for several years now. Chatbots on company websites handle low-level buyer questions and direct prospects to the right humans are the most obvious examples. There’s also technology firms who have AI that generate sales copy, and CRMs increasingly have AI-assistance features built in to make navigating them much easier. So the question isn’t how sales professionals incorporate AI – it’s how we can leverage it further to generate better results.
After all, the reason there’s such a national discussion right now is that this moment represents a great leap forward for AI. We’ve now reached the point where these programs generate text and images that, while still not a replacement for human ingenuity and creativity, provide baselines that result in significant time savings and allow for greater productivity.
Of course, all of this discussion about these advancements and the exciting new possibilities they open up are about theory – abstract, high-level concepts. What you as someone in sales want to see is the proof, the nitty-gritty actionable examples. Currently, OpenAI is offering free use of ChatGPT during the research phase of the beta. So I decided to take it for a spin.
In order to generate AI text, you need to give it a prompt. So I gave it the prompt of “Write a sales email targeted to customers of a credit union to open new checking accounts. Include FOMO language and a discount.”
The AI returned the following:
Subject: Open a New Checking Account with ABC Credit Union
Dear Valued ABC Credit Union Member,
We are excited to announce a special opportunity for our members: open a new checking account with ABC Credit Union and get a $50 gift card!
At ABC Credit Union, we are proud of our commitment to provide our members with the best banking experience. We offer a variety of checking accounts that can meet your individual needs, including free online and mobile banking, unlimited ATM withdrawals, and no minimum balance requirements. Plus, with our 24/7 customer service, you can always get help when you need it.
Don’t miss out on this exclusive offer! Open a new checking account with us today and get a $50 gift card.
Sincerely, ABC Credit Union
This text was generated in seconds. Notice how it included the credit union, a CTA of opening a new checking account, and had FOMO language. There’s also the reminder of benefits the credit union offers – free online/mobile banking, unlimited withdrawals, no minimum balance, and 24/7 customer service. The language is also grammatically flawless. That’s some impressive work – even including items that I didn’t have in my prompt.
But it’s not perfect – you can see that the generator misinterpreted “discount” as “gift with purchase.” The text is also generic – a lot like promotional emails you’ve probably received, and there’s nothing truly exciting about this email. A human writer can tweak this base for specific target markets and include more lively language.
Let’s try another example – writing an ask for a discovery conversation with a prospect. The prompt: “Write an email to the purchasing committee of a school district to ask for a meeting to discuss the Student Lounger 2023, a desk with adjustable height and ample workspace.”
The AI-generated text:
Subject: Request to Discuss Student Lounger 2023
To the Purchasing Committee of [School District],
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request a meeting with the Purchasing Committee to discuss the Student Lounger 2023, a desk with adjustable height and ample workspace.
The Student Lounger 2023 is designed to be an ergonomic and comfortable workstation for students. The adjustable height feature allows students of all sizes to remain comfortable while completing their work. The ample workspace provides students with the room they need to complete their assignments with ease. Additionally, the desk is designed to last, providing your school district with a long-term solution to student seating.
I am confident that the Student Lounger 2023 is the perfect choice for your school district, and I would love the opportunity to discuss its features and benefits in more detail. I am available to meet with you at your earliest convenience, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
A similar result to our sales email. The AI expands beyond the prompt by connecting the features of adjustable height and large workspace to the benefits the buyers and end-users will experience as a result of the features. But the verbiage is still generic and in need of fine-tuning and personalization.
How about research? I used a fictional example in my prompt: “Provide me a business profile on Tractor Supply Co. in Muncie, Indiana. Include sales revenue, target markets, and major product lines.”
Tractor Supply Co. in Muncie, Indiana is a retail store that specializes in providing equipment, tools, and supplies for farmers, ranchers, and other rural residents. The store offers a wide range of products, including tractors, farm implements, livestock feed and supplies, and pet and animal care products.
Tractor Supply Co. in Muncie, Indiana has an estimated annual sales revenue of $10 million. The store’s target markets include small and medium-sized farms, ranches, and rural households in the surrounding area.
Tractor Supply Co. in Muncie, Indiana’s major product lines include tractors, farm implements, livestock feed and supplies, pet and animal care products, and outdoor power equipment. The store also offers a variety of home and garden products, including lawn and garden tools, plants and seeds, and outdoor living items.
Looking up this information would have taken a sales professional at least 5 minutes to find and enter in this information. Here, it was about 10-15 seconds, due to the amount of data the AI is able to access.
From the examples we’ve seen here, AI is capable of producing competent text and a baseline shell that can be improved on. Its real benefit at present seems to be potentially massive time savings – both in terms of creating sales deliverables and in conducting research on real-world buyers.
One thing to be aware of – should you decide to try this out for yourself – either on an individual sales professional level, or that as a company exploring integrating AI into your workflow processes – your results will be in large part dictated by the accuracy and thoroughness of your prompts. Enter a generic prompt, get back a much less useful output. The more specific and tailored you can be, the more specific and usable the output.
So what use cases do you potentially see for this new advancement in AI for your organization?
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