A Seller’s Perspective on Enhancing Sales with AI

23 Feb 24

In podcast episode 9, we explore the challenges involved in empowering the sales force with artificial intelligence and how to facilitate that transformation.

As business leaders, we get excited when we think about just how much a Sales team empowered by artificial intelligence (AI) can achieve in terms of commercial productivity, but the reality is that most companies aren’t there yet because it’s a long learning process for everyone involved.

For episode 9 of the GTM Value Creation Corner podcast, I had the pleasure to chat with an old friend, Alfred Ojukwu, who is a Senior Sales Professional at Microsoft, and Co-Chair of Blacks at Microsoft. Working with AI as part of his sales process—as well as being in an environment where he can witness first-hand the development of AI-powered solutions like Microsoft Copilot—Alfred had a lot of insightful things to say regarding the emergence of the AI-empowered sales force.

Crossing that gap requires sellers to learn to see AI as an assistive tool that’s designed to enhance activities that sellers should be doing in their sales motions today—most notably, doing research about customers to understand their ecosystem and their unique challenges and needs.

“It takes time before we can get there, but it’s that adaptability that’s important in what we do—and understanding that AI isn’t going anywhere, but neither are we. We all have to evolve together,” said Alfred.

At the present, it is imperative that sales reps everywhere understand the right and wrong ways to use AI. Otherwise, we can end up automating bad processes, or create more spam and noise to the customer if we don’t take the time to use it thoughtfully.

Of the many AI features to get excited about, Alfred named a pretty useful feature that’s already available in Copilot. Realistically, a lot of people don’t make much use of meeting recordings, but Copilot takes this to the next level with the capability to transcribe the conversation, analyze, and summarize it.

For those who do end up revisiting meeting recordings to prepare for future tasks, this can end up saving two to three hours from having to replay the recording. And to people like Alfred, who can have something like six to eight meetings a day, that’s a lot of time saved that could be better spent on more valuable activities.

“It’s not necessarily a mundane task; it’s a critical task to getting work done, but we spend so much time doing it that it takes away from the goal of our project,” said Alfred.

The misconception that I often see among sellers is that they often treat AI like a tool that gives them an answer to their question. Realistically, it’s not such a straightforward process—rather, AI works better as an iterative tool, where the user holds a conversation with it to try and help them figure out what they want to do faster than if they had done it themselves.

The key point that salespeople need to remember when working with AI is that they’re still the ones in control, and they can choose how much of it or how little of it they want to use.

“I don’t have to embrace all of it. I can embrace what I need, use what I need, evaluate what I need, and then use that to make more intelligent decisions,” Alfred added.

Salespeople also need to remember not to get too complacent, because from the customer’s point of view, at the end of the day, they’ll only buy from people they trust. Providing them with more intelligent information helps build the trust, but if a salesperson presented data that they didn’t verify and it ended up proving to be inaccurate, it shows that they didn’t do the work.

“The human aspect is still a vital part of your relationship with that customer. You have to be the trusted advisor that gives them the most relevant information. They don’t care where you get it from as long as it’s correct,” said Alfred.

Our conversation also steered towards the topic of protecting from bias in AI, to which Alfred noted that this is something where the involvement of the front-end user is just as important in helping to build the AI engine.

“Bias in general has been a long-standing challenge to our society for hundreds of years, and it’s now seeping into our technology,” he added. As users, we need to remember that all input that comes from us helps the AI learn more about how to work with us.

Having more users that will interact with the AI responsibly will help it make more informed and unbiased decisions. It’s a lot of work that will take a lot of time to get there.

Catch the rest of the conversation on “Reinventing Sales with AI”—episode 9 of the GTM Value Creation Corner podcast. Listen to the podcast here.


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