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What Sales Leaders Should Know About Using Generative AI in the Sales Process

Srivatsa Marthi
Product at SetSail
Table of contents:

Is generative AI the new silver bullet? From writing emails to researching accounts, generative AI technology is the latest trendy gadget to add to your sales toolbox. 

And it’s quickly becoming the norm, not the exception. Salesforce reports that 58 percent of salespeople agree generative AI helps or will help them increase productivity – saving an estimated 4.5 hours per week. 

But how will AI actually shake up the way we sell? 

After all – a sales professional’s work can only change so much. People buy from people. AI can’t replace making real human connections with your prospects. And people learn from people. AI can’t replace personalized, 1-1 coaching from a sales leader the rep trusts. 

But when you pair AI with unique, custom data – it’s possible to do both of these things (and many other sales-related tasks) better than ever. 

So how do you “add AI” to your sales process and help your team be the smartest, most effective sellers they can be? Should you invest in a generative AI sales solution to power your team into the future? 

Here are seven things you should know about incorporating the power of generative AI in your sales process before you choose how to use this emerging technology:

7 things you should know about using generative AI in your sales process

#1: AI is only as good as the underlying data. 

You can’t just slap “AI” onto an existing tool and see a quantifiable difference. Why? 

You need a comprehensive, rich data lake to power the technology. AI sometimes seems magical, but it’s not – it’s only as good as the underlying data. 

If thinking about this worries you, you’re not alone. Sixty-three percent of sales professionals say their company’s data is not properly set up for generative AI. 

#2: Training AI to read your data is a full-time job. 

Again, putting an AI layer on top of your data isn’t a one-time, easy-fix solution. You must train the model to understand the architecture of the data. You must provide training queries to the model in repeated iterations. 

In other words, this exercise requires a specialist, or technology built for this purpose. 

#3: There is no one-size-fits-all AI solution for every company’s sales data.

What we’ve quickly learned at SetSail is that every customer needs some customization. Every company has its own definitions and thresholds. 

So if a sales tool just “adds AI” without giving customers the ability to configure it, it won’t end up adding much value.

This holds true as evidenced by Salesforce’s survey of over 1,000 sales professionals. More than two-thirds (68%) agree that generative AI lacks human contextual knowledge. 

#4: Deal and account summaries are better than call summaries. 

As we’ve built SetSail AI to help sales teams get instant answers to their critical questions, we’ve realized something important: basic call summaries don’t tell the whole story about what’s going on in a deal. 

What do users actually need? Sales leaders and reps are looking for holistic information in order to fully understand the status of a deal in the pipeline. Seeing what was talked about on a call is helpful, but it’s not the full picture. With SetSail AI, users can ask, “can you summarize this deal based on MEDDIC?” or “which late stage deals haven’t discussed the budget?” 

#5: Time is of the essence.

Processing and understanding large sets of data (where thousands of data points are added each day) is an ongoing, continuous effort. 

For common questions that our SetSail users ask all the time across deals, e.g., 'Do we have a champion?', we have built our solution to pre-process the answer, so customers can get business-level results quickly. 

How have we done this? We’ve built (and we maintain) a dedicated data pipeline into our customers’ tech stack. 

If generative AI is too latent, it loses its value. Time sensitivity is real in the sales process, and it’s critical (and possible) to get real-time answers.

#6: It should fit seamlessly into your team’s workflow

Using generative AI should be intuitive – it needs to be where users work. If users have to go to a different destination to access AI-insights, that will significantly constrain usage.

We’ve built SetSail AI into Slack for this very reason.

#7: Training is required

Generative AI is a new technology – users need to learn how to get the best results. The solutions that will help your team the most will include guidance that subtly trains each user along the way. 

Whether it helps them refine questions, provides tips on how to input definitions, or even suggests the actual question they should ask, you’ll see your team succeed with generative AI when it’s built with them in mind.

How to choose the right generative AI sales solution 

So as a sales leader, you know you want to leverage the power of generative AI. 

How do you ensure you’re choosing a solution that is actually going to move the needle? 

Don’t invest in a generative AI product until it checks all these boxes: 

  • It can centralize your sales data and read it accurately and completely. 
  • You can customize the product based on your specific sales process, terms, definitions, etc.
  • It gives you complete deal analysis – not just call summaries.
  • It also does this fast, and it’s easy to access. 
  • It helps you and your team understand how to use it. 

If you’re curious about how SetSail AI works, check out the video below, and contact us for a quick, no-strings-attached demo.