What’s it like to sell an AI product? And how does an AI sales team use AI to support their own goals?
John Colthart is the VP of Growth at MindBridge.ai, the company behind the world’s first and only AI-powered financial auditing platform. He has a lot to share from his 17-year career in sales and service, and he let us in on a few of his secrets.
The tide of information (and misinformation)
Before we even talk to prospects, chances are they’ve done a ton of research on their own. It’s nothing new to most sales teams, and the AI field experiences it, too.
“You have to be able to be fairly knowledgeable as a salesperson to know and dynamically react,” he says. “You have to be able to understand, your customer's likely to come either armed in a good way with information or armed in a bad way, where they've inferred a bunch of information based on what people have written on their website.”
The best way to deal with informed (or misinformed) prospects? MindBridge connects with them on an almost weekly basis, and tweaks the conversation based on how much of their content they’ve gone through.
“If they downloaded the five-minute video and they looked at these three white papers, it's going to be a different conversation than someone who just came to the website and asked a question.”
Still, people have a ton of preconceived notions about AI
Even with all the research prospects do, there are some preconceptions about AI that are hard to shake.
Just think about how far technology has come in just seven years, says John, during what he calls the AI spring. “When you think about 2011, IBM just played Jeopardy! against Ken Jennings and others. You get to 2014, and you've got DeepMind putting out its Q-learner, playing the Atari 2600. That was radical.”
AI used to come with a hefty price tag. But despite how common it is today, he finds people still assume that AI solutions are expensive, difficult to implement, and overly technical to use.
Part of that’s because people are still pretty fuzzy on what AI is, he adds. “AI is a combination, or could be a combination, of various machine learning techniques, natural language understanding and processing techniques, and statistical modelling.”
That’s why MindBridge launched an education program, aimed at helping prospects see the product in action, understand the benefits and train their staff once they purchase.
“Once they see the product, they see the value and they go fast, but just to get them over that first hurdle of how much, we found that that education program was really, really helpful in making that happen,” says John.
“I think customers could do themselves a favour by realizing that it isn't this big, scary monster.”
The best approach: focus on needs, not technology
The technology behind the product may seem like a good place to start the conversation – prospects will certainly ask about it – but that’s not the best approach, says John.
“It really starts from the outcome first and we back into the technology second,” he says. “If you have an organization that's selling AI, get out in front of what it does, the value it has, and then talk about the smarts.”
Every new rep at MindBridge does a little cold calling and lead generation to first learn directly from customers what the needs and expectations are, and what questions they’re asking. The technology behind it underpins those points but doesn’t overshadow them.
Even for sellers, “AI isn't that scary thing,” he says. “Remind yourself, what is it that your customer needs?”
[bctt tweet="“It really starts from the outcome first and we back into the technology second,” he says. “If you have an organization that's selling AI, get out in front of what it does, the value it has, and then talk about the smarts.” John Colthart, @MindBridge_ai" username="kiiteHQ"]
What AI does an AI sales team use?
“Be a cyborg” is advice tossed around MindBridge’s office. That’s because, to them, AI is all about augmentation, helping us focus on the stuff that really requires our attention while technology handles the rest.
It’s a big selling feature of their product, and one they live every day with their own sales enablement tech stack, which they’ve built to help reps handle the sheer amount of information they encounter every day, and keep them in the flow of information.
“When it comes to replying and following up on things, the built-in pieces of CRM are very helpful,” he says. “If you miss a deadline that you’ve set for yourself, it will prompt you, it will reset a new calendar item, etc.”
There are collaboration tools like Slack that help them distribute massive amounts of information quickly and efficiently. “We've got channels dedicated to product updates, development updates, regulatory and compliance updates. All the things that our reps will care about.”
Oh, and a bot called Coffee that lets the team know when a fresh pot is brewing in the office.
“It's just that funny way to remind people that this is a social environment,” he says. “People buy from people at the end of the day, and as teammates, you need to have that really solid relationship so that when you are selling something, you've got a support team.”
MindBridge.ai is the company behind Ai Auditor, the world’s first and only AI-powered auditing platform. It analyzes your financial data and transactions looking for errors or anomalies so you can be confident in your numbers (saving time and valuable resources while you’re at it.)