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Four things tech vendors need to know about AI implementation

With AI on the horizon for 2024, we’re fairly certain that everyone will be utilizing it to some degree. But how will it affect the tech space in B2B marketing? Kavita Singh, Senior Editor, B2B Marketing, spoke to Paul Gilhooly, Vice President of Sales, 6sense to discuss how AI will impact tech vendors and some top tips for implementing it.

Understand the implications of AI – what are you trying to achieve?

IBM recently reported that 35% of companies are using AI in their business and about 42% are now exploring AI, and that number will most likely continue to grow going into 2024. While some technology vendors might be seeing AI as something new, 6sense has been leveraging AI to enhance its platform for 10 years now. In its early days of AI implementation, the tech company sought to answer an all important question: how can we make it easy for sales and marketing to source exactly who was in the market for our products? 

Paul said: “I think there is a pretty consistent view that [AI] would be the biggest evolution in business since the internet. And more than likely – greater. But people are going to be using it for different reasons. In our case, it’s all about how you can create revenue and grow your business more efficiently. So that’s about how people are acquiring customers or growing their customers.”

This is essential for any tech company to ask themselves – what are we trying to achieve? While AI has endless capabilities, it’s important to know what the fundamental outcome should be. 6sense recently reported that only 3% of customers fill out forms on company’s websites – the other 97% of potential prospects? That is where AI could come in.

And for 6sense, they were able to leverage AI and data sources to not only answer that question but much more, from what accounts are actually good to target to exactly who people should be contacting from organisations.

Paul added: “A lot of what we do is about how you can be timely and relevant. From a sales and marketing perspective, business is really a lot about understanding current priorities of an organization and being highly relevant with your messaging. And we can inform that from an AI perspective.”

You need to know when human intervention is needed

With any sort of implementation, AI needs to be taken with a grain of salt. According to Paul, AI is no different than any other technology purchase. And while the success of technology can be immense, its success is contingent on both the people and the processes as well. 

Even when you’re using Chat GPT for writing a piece of content or email, there needs to be some sort of quality control in place to ensure the correct information is being curated – and that’s when human intervention needs to happen. 

For example, 6sense offers an AI assistant for email which handles the entire back and forth with an individual until they’re ready for a meeting. And while teams will ultimately get some time back to focus on less admin tasks, there still needs to be a thoughtful approach to when humans come into the fold.

He explained: “That is hugely valuable and overcomes a lot of the conversion challenges. But the productivity challenges that customers have with email systems today is that they will email until you respond, and then they bring in human intervention. But in some cases, the work really begins after because you still need to qualify and ask yourself ‘are they ready for me now?  Are they going to redirect you? Are they going to ask for more information?’”

You need to trust your AI implementation in order to embrace it

Before human intervention happens, there does need to be trust. If AI is handling some of your admin tasks, how can you ensure that the messaging and communication is on par with how you would manually tackle it? And that’s where trust issues can stem from. The answer? It’s about the workflow and knowing there’s always a human that controls it. 

Paul stressed: “There should always be safety measures and workflows. You can understand where AI systems are going to take the conversation. And if there is a situation that hasn’t been pre-identified, it should not just automatically respond, it should pause and say, ‘Hey, I need you to look at this’. So this is where we’re trying to get the balance of human intervention while still getting the benefit and efficiencies of AI specifically.”

Showcase your success through messaging

Finally, if your tech vendor is utilizing AI – be sure to show it off. This can be conducted through successful case studies, data reports and built into the actual platform itself. Not only will this allow your customers to trust your tool through the right messaging, but it will provide some assurance to your team and key stakeholders that your AI implementation is beneficial from a revenue standpoint as well.

Paul mentioned: “I think the market has changed. AI was a new thing when we started, and it was a big differentiator for us and it still is to some degree but not in the same way it once was. At the time, we were doing a lot of education around why people should be using AI, and now there seems to be more of an understanding in the market.”

And while the adoption of AI might still be new, there is a much better comprehension of its possibilities. With that being said, Paul said the key to standing out with any AI messaging is to cut through the noise. Instead of getting bogged down with all the AI capabilities your tech might offer, highlight the value and tangible business impact to show that AI is more of an enabler to companies.

Paul said: “We do a lot of close analysis where we’ve got some data within our CRM but we also do a lot of interviews with customers. And yes, there’s sort of recognition of the platform as a tool, but it is also about people in our process. But what gets highlighted through that process is our ability to prove the value. And I think that is fundamental to why success is growing so much.”

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