“Nothing is going to stop the AI train. How do we harness it and how do we leverage it to be more efficient,” Mark Hunter, UT Dallas AI For Sales Debate 2020
The promise of AI is to “Make society better”.
These are quotes from the UT Dallas debate on the topic of AI for Sales this week broadcast from the great state of Texas, and spearheaded by Dr. Howard Dover, Director, Center for Professional Sales and Sales Coach.
Link to the recording: https://hello.chorus.ai/listen?guid=99cca50b0e2748589bf360d14d289085
Some of the memorable moments of the debate:
- AI for Sales is Essential. When the “con side” of AI for Sales conceded that “AI and Machine Learning are essential” related to doing research and creating a list of targets to go after.
- AI Doesn’t Sleep. When the “pro side” said “AI doesn’t sleep. Sources we looked at said that AI will save companies 30-50% of time over the next 5-7 years.”
- According to the team, the winner will be those who can understand AI and be early adopters
- Chatbots. Chatbots were a hot topic. The pro side said that chatbots can actually be more effective (and faster) than a human, and certainly lower cost. Mark Hunter shared a story about his cable company that kept trying to upsell him and not fix the problem. It took a physical trip to the cable company to figure out that the box on their property was 20 years old and needed replacing. Today’s AI couldn’t seem to figure that out, yet…
- Agent-Assisted Dialing. AI Assistance for what the team called “digital dialing” or Agent-Assisted Dialing was a big one. Caroline Sparks said, “our role isn’t meant to be removed.” She brought up a sensitive subject – should the Reps control the messaging, or should the programmer of the AI (the manager, the coach, etc) control the messaging? This sparked a good debate!
- The answer may be different for new reps during onboarding vs. someone with 25+ years of sales experience.
- Chad’s argument was that even master sales professionals forget to ask great questions sometimes, and that call guidance software could/should be used for onboarding and ongoing.
- In monitoring thousands of calls in the Agent-Assisted Dialing space, we’ve learned that “drift” is a real thing. Reps learn a best practice, it works, then they drift to their old (and lower converting) ways. Like a golfer who takes a few lessons, then goes back to the old way.
- AI is Expensive, Myth Busted! The con team brought up that AI can be hugely expensive for companies and that only big companies could afford to test it. The pro side busted that myth when they talked about B2C players using booking technology from their social pages (that can be bought by subscription at a low cost). Chad shared the story of his own company with 8 Virtual Assistants for email & social. On payroll, they would easily cost $1M/year. With AI for Sales, the retail cost would be $8,000/month (8 seats of done-for-you email, 8 seats of done-for-you social). For a small business, many start with AI for Social only at $497/month. A pro tip from Mark Hunter: Never buy AI unless you know that if you get just 20% of the value from it, it’s still worth it.
- Digital Paid-Ads, ABM Style. Imagine a way to only advertise via paid-ads to the people that you are actively prospecting into. With AI-Powered technology, this is now possible.
Conclusion: Whether you are on the pro-side or the con-side, as Mark Hunter said, “nothing is going to stop the AI train”. The caution – “who will wear the pants in the AI relationship?” If the AI is programmed incorrectly, or in a sub-optimal way, or if new variables come into play (who could have guessed the effects of COVID-19 on sales), and if people get lazy and lean too heavily on the AI, then the quality of a sales conversation could go down. Including advanced sales training and methodology like that from Mark Hunter is imperative to make the AI for Sales engine work optimally.
Thanks to the UT Dallas Pro and Con team, thanks to Mark Hunter for making the point that nothing is going to stop the AI train, and thanks to Dr. Howard Dover for exposing these important topics to the next generation of AI-Powered, AI-Augmented, super sellers!
Chad Burmeister | CEO | ScaleX.ai | AI for Sales