AI in sales is moving at a breakneck speed. It’s hard to know where we’ll be in the next few months, let alone year. How will AI impact sellers? Will it replace them altogether? While we lack a crystal ball, our expert panel provides insights on the future of AI in sales and its impact on role and process transformations.
The Future of AI in Sales: How Will Sellers Be Impacted?
AI won’t completely replace sellers. However, it will impact how we research, prospect, and generate leads, build relationships, and guide prospects through the sales funnel. AI will impact all areas of sales, but how? A few months ago, no one was talking about this, and now EVERYONE is talking about it. So, the Sales Feed team asked nine experts about the future of AI and sales. Read on to get their perspectives.
Rather watch than read? Get the predictions in under five minutes from this Sales Feed Sales FAQ episode.
AI’s Impact on the Role of SDRs
The consensus across the board is that the sales development representative (SDR) role will see some of the most change as more B2B organizations look at integrating it into every part of the sales process.
Some experts, like Tyler Washington, Head of Content at Falkon (and a former SDR), believe that the role of the SDR will diminish over time, with sales teams reducing or eliminating functions with the introduction of different tools.
“You have these teams of 20 that will probably be teams of five within the next year. Everything they can do, ChatGPT can do it, maybe even better, but faster, of course.”Tyler Washington Falkon Head of Content
“If a chatbot’s able to do 80% as good as an SMB seller and an org doesn’t have to pay them $100K a year, a lot of CEOs and execs will turn to that as a more efficient way to drive revenue growth.”Brian Lamanna Gong Senior Account Executive
AI Won’t Replace Sellers
Not all the experts agree. Jen Allen-Knuth from Lavender thinks many sales organizations will look at AI as a big fat ‘Easy Button’ that will solve all their problems when we know that is rarely the case. She believes human connection will soon be a differentiator once more.
“Our natural tendency is just to abuse things. It’s just that the pursuit of ease will get us into this really, really loud, noisy environment where being a human is going to be a differentiator once again.”Jen Allen-Knuth Lavender Community Growth
Kayla Cytron-Thaler, an Enterprise SDR Manager at Drata, agrees that AI won’t replace sellers because people prefer buying from people. And Saad Khan, Director of Sales & Business Development at Aligned, adds, “I think there’s a really important aspect of putting thought into things. I don’t think it’s going to kill the SDR function. If anything, I think it will make them better, leaner.”
The Risks and Rewards of AI for Sales
Do the pros outweigh the cons of leveraging AI sales tools to augment or even replace aspects of the sales process? Arguments are made for both sides, but many of our experts think the output could be better. Kayla shares, “I have tried out tools that use AI or say they use AI to personalize, and a lot of times, I haven’t seen what I want to see.”
Using generative AI for sales prospecting as an example can make sellers sound just like robots, thinks Nate Nasralla, Founder at Fluint.io. For Saad’s team, he wants them to be good foundational sellers before even thinking of layering in AI in the sales process.
“I want to teach my reps the basics first, and then I want them to automate everything on top of that. I don’t want them to skip that step.”Saad Khan Director of Sales & Business Development Aligned
AI vs. Human Touch in Sales
For now, it’s best to maintain the human touch in the sales process. Utilize AI for sales automation and help reps find efficiencies in their day-to-day tasks.
Sales pro Jen suggests strategic reliance on tools, identifying areas where they aid the sales cycle. On the other hand, Nate and Brian propose leveraging AI throughout the workflow to scale sellers and prioritize the human side of sales. This will ultimately make sellers more effective.
“I think it’s going to give us that tailwind to be much more targeted, look after more quality, but also be very aware of any type of spam that is going on in sales.”Laura Erdem Dreamdata Sales Leader
Should We Embrace AI for Sales
Our panel agrees categorically that, yes, sellers should embrace AI. But to proceed with caution and a critical eye. According to Jen, with new and shiny things, reps and teams will initially over-rotate but eventually pull back. Jan Benedikt Mundorf, a Mid-Market Account Executive at Pleo, shares, “We still have to use our own heads and think about it and build our own opinions and be critical about stuff that you read on the internet.”
According to Amelia Taylor from regie.ai, relying solely on AI tools is insufficient. However, leveraging AI can greatly assist in research, delving deeper into accounts, and synthesizing information. Entering AI prompts into tools like ChatGPT to summarize long-form content, like an account’s annual report, is just one example.
“Salespeople who are using AI are going to be so much more successful and faster at the boring stuff that they hated to do.”Laura Erdem Dreamdata Sales Leader
The Best of Both Worlds: Merging Human Intelligence with AI Capabilities
Across the board, the pros agree sellers need to embrace AI or risk being left behind. Brian shares, “Those that lean into it will be rewarded in terms of most other technological advancements. It’s better to lean into it and be early to the change side of things because that’s where the direction’s going.”
That being said, the best places to leverage AI tools for sellers are where the human touch isn’t as critical. There are growing opportunities to explore automated prospecting, research, sales role-play, and first drafts of outbound sales messages are just a few areas to start. Laura Erdem emphasizes that embracing AI to enhance roles is more advantageous than ignoring AI or attempting full automation. Winners combine brain power with available AI sales tools.
“There could be powerful reps, and there can be powerful AI, so you want to combine forces and do both. That’s your best bet.”Amelia Taylor regie.ai Evangelism
This post was originally published on August 11, 2023. It was updated on October 16, 2023.