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Rules For Using Artificial Intelligence in B2B Sales

Everywhere you look, you find artificial intelligence. No other technology has been adopted faster than AI. Unfortunately, some sales organizations and their leaders use the technology in ways that cause side effects that make it difficult for salespeople. We need a set of rules that may reduce the damage it might create.

  1. Don’t use AI to automate cold outreach. I watched a person who connected GPT to LinkedIn, prompting it to find something personal about everyone on a list of contacts, create “personalized” emails, and send them out. He followed this approach by doing a webinar to teach others to follow his lead. If one sales organization automates their cold outreach, they may damage their reputation, but when hundreds or thousands decide to automate cold outreach, it will make it difficult for all salespeople to connect with their prospective clients.
    • A note about cold outreach in 2024: For some time, I have warned against automation and the coming apocalypse of cold outreach. I am not alone in believing that cold outreach will be more difficult in the future than it was in the past. If AI is used to automate it, we may have something like GDPR in Europe, at which point, cold outreach will be nothing like it was before.
  2. Don’t let AI write alone. As soon as your prospect sees the word delve or akin, or some other word that no human uses, they will recognize that you used AI to write an email or another document. If you prompt your AI to write text, you must do the work to edit the text. You saved time by asking AI to write, so you can use the time you saved to edit the output so it reads as if a person wrote it.
    • A note about robot writing in 2024: The your contacts recognize that your text was not written by a human, the more they will dismiss your messages. You know spam when you see it, and your contacts are likely to treat AI writing as a form of spam. It is not rude to reject a message that wasn’t written or sent by a human being.
  3. Do use AI for client research. Use artificial intelligence to research your prospective client's company, their competitors, and their solutions. While this is a good start, you would do well to prepare for a meeting by identifying the headwinds and tailwinds in their client’s industry. We have never had more information with fewer salespeople doing the reading and the research.
    • A note about AI for client research: Your contacts, buyers, and decision-makers complain about salespeople who know nothing about their company and industry. If you want to make it easier to win deals, you must do the work that will provide you with a sustainable strategic advantage in a contested deal. Research means you care more about this client than the salesperson who doesn’t do any research.
  4. Do use AI for exploring data. AI is much better at identifying trends that are more challenging for us to see. With enough data, you can prompt your AI to find all kinds of insights. You may take the last three years of deals and your current pipeline and prompt AI to tell you what deals have the highest chances of being won and which deals you are likely to lose. Because you can talk to your AI, you can ask it to explain how it came up with its answers.
    • A note about AI and data: AI is much better with data than humans. Any significant amount of data can provide insights that you may not be able to identify. Your CRM is a good starting place, as you have a lot of data for AI to crunch. But you may also use data around your clients, purchasing patterns, usage, and any other information you can put in an Excel sheet.
  5. Do use AI to summarize. I am not happy that we now live in a “too long; didn’t read” world. People stopped reading when television took over our time and attention. Your client isn’t likely to read a long text, but you may be able to get them to read a reduced amount of text by providing a summary.
    • A note about summarization: You should not rely on summaries when reading and researching about your clients or anything that might cause you to miss the context you may need to understand something important to your ability to succeed in B2B sales.

This is a first take on rules for using artificial intelligence in B2B sales. As we use this powerful tool, we will find other rules that forbid certain behaviors, and other positive rules that will lessen the administrative burden on salespeople and sales leaders.

Much of what you find here is found in AI Edge, a book I wrote with Jeb Blount. We spent a lot of time on the idea that AI should give us back the time we need to spend with our clients and our prospective clients.

If you are a sales leader, you should explore what you will use AI to do and what you want your sales team to avoid when it comes to artificial intelligence. If you are a sales rep, follow the rules above, and avoid doing anything that might harm your ability to win deals or cause contacts to ignore salespeople and their communications.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 4, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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