It’s 10pm: Do You Know How your Sales Reps Are Using AI?

It’s 10pm: Do You Know How your Sales Reps Are Using AI? cover

The above title parodies the public service announcement (PSA) for parents of children watching American television, especially from the late 1960s through the late 1980s (“…It’s 10pm:  Do you know where your children are?”).

There is parallel intention for sales leaders: AI is almost certainly being used by your sales team. To both maximize the benefits and mitigate the risks, you should engage now to ensure AI is being used safely, in the proper context, and for the right reasons.

Of most concern, generative AI systems like ChatGPT and Google Bard make it easy (too easy) for sales reps to not only develop bad habits but also get things wrong. While AI tools are increasingly accessible and provide that instant hit of great suggestions, this free leg-work may not be free from incorrect and ill-suited information, not to mention dull and repetitive suggestions and copy.

“In order for AI to add real value to a sales organization, it must positively impact the quality of relationships and directly increase sales outcomes,” explains Alex Ackermans, VP of Engineering at Maximizer. “The real value is when AI can be used to increase sales productivity, but never at the expense of the company’s brand or customer trust.”

In addition to the above AI shortcomings (in a sales environment, anyway), these platforms can also be fooled and hacked. Sales Leaders need to ensure that reps are not blindly firing off content, in an email let’s say, that was generated by AI without guidelines and/or a thorough and indispensable review by a real person before hitting ‘send’.

Top questions sales leaders need to be asking about AI:

  • What activities are your reps using it for? Is it for prospect research? Writing emails? Creating proposals? Automating tasks? Develop your own ‘best practices’ so reps know which activities make sense.
  • Are they using/sending text from AI as a substitute for picking up the phone, hosting video calls, delivering presentations or other in-person tasks that are required checkmarks in your sales process? When it comes to a documented sales process, ‘required’ should be synonymous with ‘non-negotiable’.
  • Do they have another person on the team – or, better still, someone from the MarComm team – reviewing outgoing AI generated communications for tone, style and branding?
  • Are they using AI-generated content to replace officially and/or approved customer-facing content? For example, are they defaulting to your company’s standard and strategically-worded boilerplate or an ad-hoc profile generated by an AI system.
  • Which platform are they using (ChatGPT, Google Bard, etc.)? Reputable firms are a good idea at this stage. Knowing this also helps with guideline development and future training plans.
  • Are they using AI generated content as part of a legal contract, and has it been reviewed and approved internally for all possible liabilities?

Used properly and implemented wisely, generative AI systems like ChatGPT can enhance sales rep productivity and efficiency, freeing up time to drive new business. However, because these systems can make mistakes that wind up in front of prospects and customers, it is incumbent on sales leaders to establish, monitor & enforce clear guidelines for their use.

Read more: Is AI the End of Professional Sales?

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