By Adam Smartschan, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Altitude Marketing
Business-to-business sales professionals are no strangers to innovation. The last decade has seen a shift to Zoom meetings, the rise of hyperscale data vendors, and modern RevOps. The days of smiling and dialing and wining and dining aren’t over, per se, but things are markedly different.
Enter the next disruptor: artificial intelligence and ChatGPT in particular. AI tools – particularly OpenAI’s large language model – provide human-like content and “thinking” at scale. While that sounds a bit academic, it represents what could be a seismic shift for B2B biz dev pros.
In a previous article, I looked at 4 Ways ChatGPT Is Changing Content Marketing. In this article, let’s explore four ways that B2B sales can leverage the power of artificial intelligence to close more deals.
- Personalized client & prospect engagement
- Predictive sales analytics
- Lead scoring & qualification
- Client Retention
But first, we should cover one important point…
What is AI?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines AI as “the capacity of computers or other machines to exhibit or simulate intelligent behavior.” I’d personally go one step further and define the current gen of AI tools as digital “robots” providing human-like execution of repetitive tasks.
There are a few important points in that definition. First, robots. With AI tools like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, you aren’t building physical “robots.” Instead, you’re creating and using digital bots, designed to execute a specific task on-demand, 24/7.
Human-like is particularly critical. AI is not human. It can’t actually think and won’t in our lifetimes. It can analyze and learn from massive data sets, making connections that our puny human brains can’t. Speed, scale, and reliability are the keys. You won’t explicitly get a novel idea from AI. You might save some time or at least get pointed in the right direction.
Finally, there are repetitive tasks. That covers a lot more than you think it might. Prosumer-grade AI five years ago was good for little more than ordering a pizza – a scripted, linear interaction. But lots of things are actually repetitive: language, ChatGPT’s domain, and math being the big two.
The most important thing to remember is that AI can only work with the inputs it’s given. That might be the multi-gigabyte text training set that GPT-4, ChatGPT’s new engine, released in March 2023, learned from, or a human being entering something in a chatbot. It can connect, predict, and learn from what it’s given, but AI doesn’t exist in the real world. External stimuli, emotion and world events mean nothing to it.
So, how can B2B salespeople put all that to use in the real world? Here are four ways that AI and ChatGPT are creating efficiencies and driving success.
Personalized Client & Prospect Engagement
B2B sales is all about personalization. Nothing is more important than addressing the specific needs and pain points of each prospect.
ChatGPT helps by providing personalized engagement with sales targets. The model is more than capable of taking a form submission and generating a custom response or giving you guiderails for your emails. It won’t close the deal for you – a mantra we’ll repeat – but it can help eliminate rote work, freeing reps to focus on more complex issues.
ChatGPT-based chatbots can even offer basic 24/7 engagement, with no human intervention required. Why force a prospect to schedule a meeting to learn the basics about your company? ChatGPT can help you build bots that engage just like people.
Predictive Sales Analytics
AI, even rudimentary ML models accessible via Excel, can analyze vast amounts of data and uncover real insights. AI excels at identifying patterns in massive data sets. The right model can help B2B sales pros identify trends in prospect behavior or see what’s moving them down the pipeline.
Again, this requires attention being paid to inputs. A machine learning model that doesn’t take seasonality into account, for example, won’t know why December is a down season for you. But the more inputs you give, the better your reps can prioritize work and focus on high-value opportunities.
Lead Scoring & Qualification
Identifying high-value leads is critical to B2B sales success. Now, if you’re generating three or four MQLs a day, this is no big deal. But if you have hundreds, you need bots capable of predicting and prioritizing.
AI can look at known factors like demographics and online activity, then compare a prospect to past deals. This type of “clustering” can result in scoring or grouping, allowing sales reps to prioritize outreach on the leads most likely to convert.
Acquiring new clients is important for any B2B company. But retaining existing clients is just as crucial – if not more so. Client acquisition requires advertising, marketing, introduction and a sales cycle. That’s expensive and time-consuming. Half the retention battle, meanwhile, is fought in the client’s experience with your business.
AI plays a number of roles in client retention. On the predictive side, ML models can analyze behavior compared to existing norms, looking for who’s at risk of churning. This information can inform targeted retention strategies that address specific, personalized needs.
Meanwhile, ChatGPT can reduce the time and effort involved with client communications. It can help draft emails and tune messaging. That’s a few minutes saved at a time, but those rapidly add up to additional touchpoints. More touchpoints mean a stronger relationship, which only helps with retention. If the goal is efficiency, there’s no reason not to deploy a tool meant to work fast.
tl;dr: AI & ChatGPT for Business-to-Business Sales
Artificial intelligence is already changing the way B2B sales works. From streamlining processes and identifying high-value leads to providing basic content, AI tools can provide human-like work at meta-human scale.
Now, an AI chatbot will never be a substitute for a talented salesperson. It will not close a deal for you. But in these days of tight budgets and doing more with less, fast and confident operations is the key. If that’s the challenge, robots can be the solution. Plus, AI is only getting faster and more accepted. Bringing it to the table today is setting yourself up for success in the future.
About the Author
Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.
Adam graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2007. He grew up in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, just miles down the road from Altitude's headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
About Altitude Marketing
Altitude is a full-service, B2B integrated marketing and communications agency that puts your company on the map. Our proven methodology ensures that we get smart quickly about highly complex concepts, so we can translate them into meaningful market positioning, compelling brand messaging and lead-driving strategies. The result is a fresh approach that distinguishes your brand in a marketplace that’s cluttered with hard-to-differentiate businesses.
Altitude provides clients with a full suite of integrated digital and traditional marketing services. With Altitude, all of your efforts work together, multiplying results and delivering swift, measurable ROI. Visit the B2B marketing experts.