Train AI in sales, and you’ll join 81% of salespeople surveyed who agree that AI significantly reduces their manual tasks and data entry workload.
But how do you do that ethically? There’s a lot to consider, including bias, data management, permissions, and more. Disregard ethics, and you may find unwanted consequences as severe as a lawsuit or damaged brand reputation.
The good news: There’s a way to leverage AI with ethics intact, and we’re showing you exactly how to do so. In this article, find the ethical concerns and best practices for using AI. Plus, insights from sales experts who are knowledgeable and passionate about using AI in sales ethically.
In this article:
Ethical Concerns and AI
Of marketers surveyed, 90% say AI and automation help them spend less time on manual tasks, spend more time on the parts of their job they enjoy most (80%), and more time on the creative aspects of their role (79%).
Yet, only 14% strongly agree that they are confident that the information generative AI tools like ChatGPT provide is accurate.
For sales professionals, ethical AI concerns compound as they handle customer data and represent their company in customer-facing roles. Conscientious sales pros worry about AI bias, transparency, brand reputation, customer experience, and human relations.
That said, there are many opposing views out there suggesting that the future of AI is not so bad. Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert, believes AI and ChatGPT will improve customer service.
How to Train Your AI Ethically
Remember this: If we weren’t thinking about AI ethically, then something would be wrong. Businesses and consumers alike need ethical AI. If you’re conscious enough to raise ethical concerns, you’re exactly the sort of person we need to use AI. Thoughtful execution ensures AI can be trained correctly.
Here are some top tips regarding using AI ethically.
Use trusted software.
When choosing your AI, opt for AI that you can trust. The right tools are essential. With the right tools you can join the 61% of sales professionals who find AI and automation tools important to their overall sales strategy.
For example, ChatSpot integrates with HubSpot and is available for free accounts and up. This AI will be easy to integrate and fairly familiar to HubSpot users, improving existing processes.
For sales teams, ChatSpot will:
- Take the load off nurturing potential customers by drafting follow-up emails.
- Speed up day-to-day tasks with its natural language processing (NLP). Sales professionals can ask ChatSpot for a desired outcome.
- Manage leads.
- Provide performance tracking.
- Make sales predictions such as expected lead closure.
- And so much more!
Trusted software is key to building ethical AI in your sales operations. Find AI tools with guidelines or support. ChatSpot users with free accounts are supported by the community, and paid accounts have varying levels of support, including email, chat, and phone.
Ask for permission.
Everyone impacted by this decision should be aware each time you integrate a new AI into your process. This includes internal team members and also potential customers.
Zoom provides an excellent example of permissions made very clear regarding their recording software. Every participant is issued a pop-up in a recorded meeting as soon as the recording begins. The participant is given an opportunity to continue with the recording or to leave the meeting.
Rafael Sarim Özdemir, founder and CEO at Zendog Labs, says, “It's crucial to ethically employ AI by acquiring permission before recording. This should involve transparently explaining the benefits to all participants, ensuring they are comfortable with the process.”
Trusted software, like Zoom, will likely consider the ethics and permissions for you, but it’s important to note that if you’re introducing the software, it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s transparent and gathering permissions. Sometimes, you might need to consider a new policy that can be shared with team members and potential customers.
Establish a clear AI ethics policy.
An AI Ethics Policy is a set of guidelines outlining how you use AI and addressing the ethics involved. Your policy can be shared internally and with individuals outside the organization to help guide AI usage and build trust with prospects.
Cohen’s team exemplifies transparency. The company has a clear policy with crucial guidelines on our company’s fundamental values around the use of AI and techniques surrounding these tools. There’s also a clear definition of illegal practices associated with AI.
“Of course, since we are all experimenting and learning how to rein in and streamline the many possibilities of AI technology, we keep updating this policy as well,” Cohen says.
Your AI ethics policy will help guide internal teams and increase transparency between you and your prospects which is always appreciated.
Follow brand guidelines.
Your AI will represent your organization. You need all people using — and therefore training — AI to be consistent, and that’s where brand guidelines come in. If your humans are well-versed and consistent in the language they use to talk about your business and its offering, then your AI will be too.
A cohesive team working on AI equals a cohesive brand image across all customer touchpoints, even when AI does some of the work.
While you should embrace sharing your usage of AI, you don’t want it to stand out if you can help it. A consistent brand tone of voice enhances the customer experience and builds trust.
Ensure fairness and transparency in AI.
Naturally, the goal is to ensure fairness and transparency when implementing AI.
Your AI will be trained by the people that use it. Within your brand guidelines and policies, consider inclusivity and strive for an unbiased representation of your data. Remember that humans carry bias, so it’s important that you train AI carefully.
Josh Amishav, founder and CEO at Breachsense, says, “I carefully select and train algorithms to ensure fairness and inclusivity. In addition, transparent explanations are provided to customers, emphasizing that there is human oversight. Ongoing monitoring helps detect any biases, allowing for immediate corrective actions.”
Check and control data for bias.
Jack Underwood, CEO and co-founder at Circuit, advises that AI should be checked and controlled for bias. Underwood says, “We tackle our data inputs. That means using multiple people to code our data, verifying data from multiple sources, and reviewing our findings with peers.
Remember, if the data that goes into the system is biased, the output will face the same problem.
“If we're letting biased data enter our sales platforms, that means any analyses, recommendations, and steps taken could be skewed and negatively affect our DEIB standards. So we take steps to avoid it by ensuring our sales data is strong and balanced,” Underwood says.
Educate sales teams on ethical AI.
Ultimately, you need your sales teams to work in sync. Everyone needs to understand the brand guidelines, ethical policies, and how exactly you’re working to train an ethical AI.
Sales teams should roll out AI implementation gently and introduce it to team members over time. This way, you can control AI usage and complete training effectively before everyone starts inputting into the AI.
“Start with education. Provide your team with a clear understanding of what ethical AI is and why it matters," says Daniel Osman, head of sales and operations at Balance. “Consider offering training sessions or workshops on the topic. And if you see someone struggling, set up a time to have a one-on-one to discuss it in more detail.”
The role of AI within sales is to automate repetitive tasks, analyze data faster than any human ever could, and help salespeople with the mundane. AI can do a lot for sales, but it’s important not to lose human interaction and strong customer experience.
One way to do this is to continue with personalized customer interactions.
AI tools like Campaign Assistant can help you do just that.
This AI will create campaigns in minutes, eliminating a lot of thinking and stress! You can generate text for landing pages or use it to help you write emails and advertisements. With the job load shared with AI, you’ll free up your time to concentrate on responsibilities that require a personal touch.
The key with AI is knowing what to hand over to the software and what needs to stay within the remit of a competent human who will add that magic touch.
The live chat box clearly says customer care is out of office and will return later. Their live chat is marked as managed by “Customer Care Bot.” For full transparency, there’s also text stating “automated.”
Full transparency surrounding AI usage makes for a better customer experience. The expectations are shared before engagement has even begun. Transparency over AI policy and use will likely increase trust and reduce frustration.
Expert Tips for Ethically Training Your AI
Before implementing your strategy, hear from experts in the trenches of ethical AI.
1. Balance AI and human intelligence.
“Artificial Intelligence is best used alongside Human Intelligence,” says Jordan Ledwein, director of sales, marketing, and atrategic partnerships at Sandler by i10 Solutions. “This means being able to take the insights provided by AI and using human experience, knowledge, and discernment to know what to do with the information.”
Ledwein says salespeople using AI need to verify the information that AI provides to make sure it’s accurate and ethical.
What we like: Ledwein values the importance of AI and human intelligence. Such a combination should save time for sales personnel without undervaluing the human touch.
2. Instill boundaries, guidelines, and training.
“Our AI systems provide insights, support decision-making, and streamline workflows, but final judgments and actions are always made by our sales teams,” Politi says.
Politi's team has also invested in comprehensive training programs that include responsible and ethical use of AI. This includes topics such as privacy, data security, transparency, and the avoidance of bias.
“Regular communication and feedback channels address any ethical concerns that may arise,” Politi says.
“We integrate AI into our processes for efficiency, but we never allow it to compromise the personalized human touch that is integral to our client relationships,“ he says. ”We train our sales team to view AI as a tool for enhancing their capabilities, not as a substitute for decision-making.”
What we like: Politi and Hall share clear guidelines in which AI is a support system for sales and does not impede human interaction.
3. Have an ethical code of conduct.
It’s one thing to have an ethical code of conduct or a policy; it’s another to keep it updated in line with the current standards. As demonstrated previously, the risk with AI can be serious if we’re not using it carefully and ethically.
“We have a clear and consistent ethical code of conduct to ensure that our AI technology is not misused,” says Joshua Kaiser, AI and automation technology expert and CEO at Tovie AI. “But in general, we are tuned in to developments in this area to ensure our solutions comply with updated standards.”
What we like: Kaiser and Tovie AI are proactive in that they already have an ethical code of conduct, but Kaiser recognizes that the hard work doesn't stop there. It’s important to keep up to date with the AI ethical standards.
4. Have integrity.
“There are tools out there which use AI to scrape personal information such as mobile numbers and email addresses, all in the name of ‘legitimate interest’ as per GDPR rules,” Overend says. “This might be legal, but the ethics are gray. Sales teams might want to consider whether that's a road they want to go down.”
What we like: Overend makes a case for ethical AI that falls in that gray area and encourages sales teams to consider their AI usage morally.
5. Introduce a chief ethics officer role.
“In building the algorithms within the AI, someone becomes the ‘chief guesser’ and will try to do the right thing. Balancing these guesses with ethics will be an important conversation to be had in the coming years," Burmeister says. "As humans, we optimize for the wrong things sometimes; having oversight and a diverse group of perspectives will help us get this right.”
What we like: With a well-defined role, you have someone with accountability to turn to when it comes to decision-making around ethical AI.
Ethical AI is arguably more simple than it feels.
The process of training AI ethically starts with defining brand values, establishing well-thought-out policies, implementing codes of conduct, and providing careful training for teams employing AI.
While new and overwhelming, if you’re exercising caution, and maintaining transparency, you’re demonstrating signals that your AI is operating ethically. As it always is in sales, the main thing is to have your customer at the heart of your decisions.