78% of sales professionals agree that AI can make them more efficient at their job – including sales outreach.
Yet, despite the potential improvements and scalability that AI can bring to sales outreach, many of us are still unfamiliar with this technology, and that can lead to potential missteps.
Here, I spoke to sales experts to uncover what sales reps get wrong when leveraging AI for sales outreach and strategies to remedy them.
What Sales Reps Get Wrong When Leveraging AI for Sales Outreach
1. Approaching AI as a copy-and-paste tool.
In the fast-paced world of sales, AI can appear as a quick solution for generating content. For instance, you can fire up ChatGPT, ask it to write a prospecting message, and hit "send" in less than a minute.
"AI writing tools should never be a simple copy-and-paste solution. If you're using them this way, you're creating the exact same type of content that anyone else can, and what's the point of that?" he told me.
But it's not just a problem of being unoriginal. As Kaput also points out, AI-written content isn't infallible. It may contain outdated or inaccurate information, which can easily slip through the cracks. In fact, only 46% of sales professionals believe they would be able to tell if AI tools generated the wrong information.
While it may sound counterintuitive, human intervention is critical to using AI correctly. For example, Kaput and his team at the Marketing AI Institute use AI to support the writing process, not replace it.
"We still have humans write our content, but we save 75% of the time it takes us to produce content by applying AI to tasks like summarization, ideation, research, and outlining," he explained. "Then, a human can focus 100% of their intelligence and creativity on a fully unique piece of content with a strong point of view that competitors can't duplicate with AI."
2. Using AI to increase the quantity — not the quality — of outreach.
AI is a content-creating machine, but that doesn't mean it should be used as such.
"When you decide to implement AI, your goal shouldn't be to send 17 more emails a day," said Jake Dunlap, host of the Jake Dunlap Show. "If you implement these tools correctly, they should help you send zero more emails a day. But they will get your quality up by 20-30%."
Kaput echoes a similar sentiment, telling me: "Just because you can send more outreach using AI doesn‘t mean you should. And, frankly, that's not the most valuable use case for AI when it comes to outreach."
Instead, Kaput recommends using AI to take the more mundane tasks off your plate, giving you more time to tailor your messaging. He also mentions using AI assistants to better understand your audience.
"AI assistants can help you build deeper connections with your audience. By treating AI tools as 'virtual buyers,' you can ask questions about key pain points and feelings around the topic, product, or service you're doing outreach for. By working with a machine in this way, you can actually be much more human and empathetic (and ultimately more effective) in your outreach."
3. Not personalizing your outreach.
"Amazon, Netflix, Shopify, and others have reset customer expectations, which have crept into the B2B buyer experience," said Matthew Bowman, Global Growth VP & Marketing Executive at Teleperformance.
Nowadays, buyers don't just want personalization, they expect it.
When we turn on Netflix, we want personalized movie recommendations. When we open the Spotify app, we want curated playlists. And when we open a sales email, we want to read a message that resonates.
In other words, when anyone can use AI to generate prospecting messages, personalization will become the great differentiator.
"We're seeing several leaders fearmonger that AI personalized outreach is going to flood inboxes and kill the channel. In my opinion, it's going to get better," Rocco Savage, Head of Growth at Regie.ai, told me.
Rocco points out that inboxes are already flooded with bad emails, but AI could make the difference.
"The future of outreach is going to work a lot like ads where you will receive personalized, targeted outreach based on your buying intent, resulting in emails you likely want to receive versus the ones you don't," he added.
Sales professionals seem to agree — 66% either strongly or somewhat agree that AI tools can help them personalize the customer experience, according to HubSpot's State of AI Report.
4. Taking the human salesperson out of the picture
AI is automating a number of sales-related tasks — like outreach — but it shouldn't replicate the salesperson at the heart of it.
As AI continues to shape the sales landscape, sales professionals need to employ a balanced approach. While AI can streamline processes and enhance efficiency, salespeople still need to "bring it home" with their unique expertise, experience, intuition, and people skills.