There’s not much question that artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. Yes, AI is changing how we sell — but it’s also changing what we sell. To compete, many companies are investigating and actively adding AI to their products and services. That means sales needs to make a transition as well.
Like any disruptive technology, AI is a whole new ballgame. You need to distinguish between those potential customers who just need to be educated about AI and those who are serious buyers. And that’s always the primary challenge of selling a new technology. You’re compelled to educate, and yet you must also find partners willing to be the early adopters. It can be challenging, but there are tactics you can employ to find further success when selling AI.
The challenge with selling AI technology is defining enterprise artificial intelligence versus other forms of AI, such as consumer AI, that are also not well-defined. And, of course, it’s hard for anyone to even hear the term “AI” and not think of some dystopian, sci-fi epic. The hardest thing is explaining to customers that you aren’t that type of AI, and that the very fundamental form of AI is really just math, models, and the convergence of those two things. So your challenge — and solution — is to demystify this concept, but still keep it exciting.
The best sales reps can revert very quickly to the pain points that technology was meant to solve. As market demands change, the solutions in use become stale and outdated; new architectures pop up. If you’ve been a value-added sales rep, you can go back to a customer and sell AI — and probably sell faster than others. That’s because you can show how a product, service, or technology was never designed to do what needs to be done today. Showing this makes AI much more relatable to customers who need to solve new problems with a new solution.
When enterprise software first started hitting the mainstream, it was about selling the features, architecture, and the ROI. AI is different from other solutions because it’s not a single piece of technology — it’s a composition. Organizations need sales reps who can speak fluently across the subject matter of AI and not simply rely on selling a feature that “wows” the customer. It’s a return to a better day and age of selling vision and value — not just a laundry list of features.
If you think about it, AI is quite different from many technologies, but it does share the end goal: We're trying to build systems that help people think faster and better and make more informed decisions. By not only articulating the value of AI to your customers, but by proving you’re in it for the long journey and are willing to see them through multiple phases of implementation, you’ll quickly gain credibility. AI isn’t something you just install and walk away from. It takes a commitment, as the technology’s evolution is dependent on the customer’s usage.
Of course, there’s one thing that doesn’t change when selling AI: taking care of the customer and being a trusted adviser. The core premise of sales is to maintain and grow relationships. No matter what new technological advancement there is to sell — including AI — this will always remain the same.
“AI isn’t something you just install and walk away.”