From Pharma and medicine to finance and insurance, it can seem like AI is everywhere. So you’d imagine that AI is easy to sell to big enterprise clients? But the truth is that it’s not easy at all. Selling AI is incredibly hard because it often solves problems people have but to which they don’t even know there is a solution. At the same time, an AI salesperson can easily get stuck in the POC trap or end up talking to tech tourists all day who have no budget but just think that AI is cool. So let’s look at how to sell artificial intelligence software while avoiding all of these traps.
You MUST Qualify & Disqualify Leads to Sell AI
In a conventional B2B Software company there is always a debate around how qualified a lead should be before a sales meeting, whose job it is to qualify them (Marketing or sales), and whether to focus on quantity or quality of leads. In an AI startup, you must pre-qualify leads before a sales meeting. If you don’t, your sales team will spend all day everyday giving seminars on what AI is and will spend all of their time with AI tech tourists who have no intention to buy.
It’s easy to generate a high volume of inbound leads and get a lot of meetings when you’re selling AI tech, because people think it sounds cool and want to learn more. If you want to sell AI, you need to avoid these tourist meetings and pre-qualify as much as possible? The best way to do this, is to build an inbound content marketing effort where you use content to learn about the visitors to your site and educate them before a meeting. But before you do that, you need to know who your target buyer is!
Who are you trying to sell AI to and what problem do you solve?
This may sound obvious but too often AI companies try to sell to everyone and solve lots of huge problems like ‘making the enterprise data centric’. You need to have a very clear understanding of what problem you solve and for whom and then all of your content and your website needs to make that clear to viewers.
Generally, this takes the form of a simple statement like “we help (insert job title of buyer) to solve (describe pain point) thanks to our technology that (does what?) and is unique because (differentiator). If you follow this approach, then the people who contact you will be more self-selective, and you won’t get people just contacting you to learn about what you do.
Avoid Innovation Teams and Sell to a Line of Business
When you sell AI, you can very easily fall into the innovation trap. You get a call from a big company (maybe even a target) but it’s their innovation team and they want to try out your software. Sounds good right? Wrong, innovation teams have very small budgets and are generally not connected to any business line.
They are really just tasked with understanding what new tools are out there and trying as many as possible. If they pay you, and they generally try their best not to, you will not make money on the project because they will tell you that you need to take a loss since it’s an investment in your future relationship. I’ve fallen into this trap and worked with customers who have as well and the best advice I can give is to stay away from innovation.
This post has only addressed a few points relating to how to sell Artificial Intelligence software. Some of the advice also hold true for B2B software companies but it is true that AI companies face unique challenges. To go into future detail, you can read a detailed report here (this is not a gated piece of content and you will not need to give an email).
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