4 Tips to Effectively Implement GenAI Across Sales Processes

11 Jan 24

For your Sales organization to truly benefit from using generative AI, you need processes to guide its implementation. Here’s how to begin.

We’ve all heard stories of how generative AI has been amazing for so many people out there, with some companies using the technology to create significant gains in productivity. But chances are that you may not be able to picture what complete integration of generative AI across sales processes looks like.

In fact, one of our CEO surveys found that only 26% of CEOs were running small-scale pilots with generative AI, while 9% were doing anything more than that. Yet, 94% expressed a desire to formally integrate generative AI into their sales programs.

We believe that what’s stopping many companies from crossing that gap lies in the way they perceive and approach generative AI. Generative AI isn’t a technology that fulfills a singular purpose; it’s a revolutionary tool that creates the potential for us to improve entire processes when we take a holistic approach to it.

For companies to truly see the benefits of working with generative AI, it demands an entirely new working relationship with it. Many individual sales reps out there have already started using generative AI tools in their daily sales motions on their own initiative, but without established guidelines directing sellers on what (and what NOT) to do, results would be inconsistent at best.

To pick up where we left off on a previous blog post, based on our Harvard Business Review article, What Sales People Get Wrong about Using AI, we have four recommendations on how companies can go about setting the foundations for a new working relationship with generative AI.

4 tips to integrate AI use into the work culture of your Sales team

1. Show examples of what CAN be done, NOT what MUST be done.

Sales reps are busy people and if you start by showing them use cases to replicate, chances are that they’ll only replicate the examples instead of thinking about the possibilities of this new technology.

Do provide use case examples in playbooks and coaching sessions, but also consider setting up brainstorming sessions to trigger discussions on how sellers can adapt their workflows and find ways to reach their targets more effectively.

2. Establish guidelines, not commands.

You can’t just write a single prompt into generative AI and expect the immediate output to be groundbreaking stuff. Getting your desired output from generative AI comes from the art of holding a dialogue with the AI to brainstorm, where each round of back and forth will get you closer to what you need.

Sellers can be guided on what starting prompts could look like but do also emphasize the importance of discussing with the AI and guide them how to do it well. Correct it when it strays from the desired answer or ask it to try a different approach, so that the AI can learn from the interaction to get you what you truly need.

3. Focus training on practice, not information transfer.

Training your sales reps to work well with generative AI needs to be more about practice than theory. You can start by teaching them the basics of how it works and all relevant considerations—factual accuracy, confidentiality, privacy, ethical use, hallucinations, and potential overreliance. But don’t stop your training there. Be sure to incorporate a lot of live practice too.

Provide real customer scenarios for them to practice with. Sales reps can also apply what they learned to their real accounts, which will help them develop their way of working with the AI. There is no better way to get your sales reps up to speed than to let them experience it themselves.

4. Use manager-seller 1:1s for joint learning, not feedback.

Once generative AI has become a big part of each sales rep’s daily work, you’ll start to see that it’s also changing the job of the sales manager. With both sales reps and managers learning how to work better with AI, it would be useful for managers to introduce a regular cadence of generative AI “show and tell” during 1:1 meetings with sales reps.

This is where sellers can talk about how they used AI in previous weeks, what they learned from it, and how it has impacted their work. This helps your Sales organization as a whole work towards continuous improvement in their AI-enhanced processes, paving the way for big productivity gains over time.

Embracing a new way of working with generative AI

To reiterate what we’ve long said about generative AI, it’s not enough to just encourage your Sales organization to start testing the waters with generative AI. Making generative AI integral to your Sales processes requires starting with a top-down, more hands-on approach. Create guidelines on how generative AI can be used, but also guide your Sales team in their learning process, and encourage curiosity and creative thinking to truly unlock the full potential of generative AI for your company.

Learn more about working with generative AI by reading the full version of this article, which we’ve written and published on Harvard Business Review.


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