It’s easy to be skeptical of AI in a job built on personal interaction. Like all disruption, generative AI in sales has the potential to completely change the way things are done. It also has the potential to rewrite it for the better.
Generative AI is a category of algorithms that draws from large, unstructured data sets to create new content, including text and images.
In this post, we’ll share the state of generative AI in sales today with three use cases for AI in sales. Then, we’ll give you a tour of the top generative AI tools for sales teams with highlights and pricing.
Table of Contents
Generative AI in Sales Today
First, let’s cover what generative AI is. Generative AI is a category of algorithms that draws from large, unstructured data sets to create new content. Generative AI has two sides: input and output.
ChatGPT, for example, draws input from a vast historical dataset of online information. Other AI tools draw data from sources like a CRM, LinkedIn, or industry databases. AI outputs can be text, images, or even multimedia, like videos. Generative AI can help sales teams sell by gathering intelligence and creating outputs that save time and personalize prospect communications.
McKinsey reports that between 50% and 60% of organizations use AI, double the 2017 usage rate. Seventy percent of companies using AI report that adoption has increased their marketing and sales revenue, while 28% say it’s decreased costs.
A Look at the Numbers: Sales Industry Attitudes Toward AI
We asked more than 1,350 sales reps and leaders how they’re using and thinking about generative AI in sales. Here’s what we found.
1. Adoption is ticking up, but skepticism remains.
- 74% of sales pros use some form of AI/automation tool.
- 69% believe sales pros should use AI/automation for prospecting but avoid becoming overly reliant on them.
- 68% of sales pros not currently using AI say they don’t want to start using it in the future.
- 60% of sales pros say AI/automation is important to their overall sales strategy. 20% say it’s unimportant, and 20% say it’s neither important nor unimportant.
- The most popular use cases for generative AI tools in sales are:
- Content creation (18%).
- Prospect outreach (16%).
- Research (16%).
- The most popular tools that sales pros use are:
- AI tools that automate manual tasks (35%).
- AI tools offer data-driven insights (34%).
- Generative AI tools that help write sales content or prospect outreach messages (31%).
- AI tools that analyze or simulate sales calls for training/coaching (28%).
2. The applications of generative AI in sales are wide-ranging.
3. AI is changing sales practices.
- 41% of sales pros say AI/automation tools have “moderately” or “significantly” impacted how they plan to sell in 2023. Only 29% say AI has had no impact.
Will Generative AI Take Sales Jobs?
The most polarizing discussion of how generative AI will impact sales is how it will impact sales teams. Some sales leaders like Sam Jacobs, CEO of Pavilion, predict that AI will significantly reduce the need for headcount as technology automates processes and boosts productivity for sales reps.
Others, like Darryl Praill, CMO at Agorapulse, disagree. “AI, at least in the next 3 to 5 years, will not reduce headcounts nor eliminate jobs. It’s just another tool, not unlike Grammarly or SEMrush, or other tools which help us work smarter and not harder.”
Whatever prediction is right, generative AI will change how sales professionals work. Reskilling to include how to use AI tools will become important for every sales department and sales professional looking for their next career move.
How Generative AI Can Help Teams Sell Faster
One of the best ways to think about generative AI is as a productivity tool. Adopting AI doesn’t mean replacing your sales team with bots: it means enhancing their productivity so they can do more with less. Here are the top three ways generative AI can help you sell.
Saves Admin Time
Time spent on non-revenue-generating activities is a huge pain point for sales teams. While 77% of salespeople report working more hours than they did a few years ago, these extra hours don’t necessarily translate to more sales.
Sales reps report that they spend 41% of the workday on non-revenue-generating activities, according to 2022 The Sales Happiness Index. This time is lost to internal meetings and emails, prospect research, manually writing cold emails, updating their CRM, and scheduling. Sales reps say management doesn’t understand how time-consuming these tasks are. Sound familiar?
The same survey found that 81% of sales reps estimate they could meet their quotas and generate 38% more revenue for the company with reduced admin time.
So, how can generative AI in sales reduce admin time?
Taking Notes From Sales Calls
Most salespeople love talking to leads on sales calls. Typing up notes to add to their CRM? Not so much. Generative AI tools can connect to and transcribe sales calls, then generate notes and action steps for you. Our survey found that 38% of sales pros already use AI to summarize sales calls.
Many AI tools link with your CRM to automatically add notes and action steps — like your virtual assistant.
Writing Outbound Emails
Even with a template library, writing a good email to a prospect can take 10 minutes or longer. You need to make sure you’ve spelled their name and company name correctly, make a connection, and personalize your pitch to their company profile.
Generative AI tools can take inputs from your CRM or their research tool and write a prospect email for you with parameters that you specify. You can tweak the email, ask for a rewrite, or save templates in under a minute. Grammar and CRM integrations mean you reduce the chance of human error in an email that could doom a large deal from the start.
Some tools even specialize in the hardest part: the first line of a cold email. Tools like Lyne pull data from LinkedIn to find points of commonality like alma mater, connections, or groups to draft an introduction.
Boost Sales Outcomes with Personalization
Beyond saving time, generative AI in sales can lead to better outcomes for sales teams. According to our survey, 85% of sales pros using AI believe it makes their prospecting efforts more effective, and 52% think it will boost their ability to build rapport. The most promising way that AI can improve outcomes is through personalization.
A Salesloft analysis of 6 million sales emails found that by adding 20% personalization to outbound sales emails, sales professionals:
- Increased open rates by over 40%.
- More than doubled the reply rates from 3.1% to 6.6%.
Of course, personalizing each email manually takes time and skill. Generative AI for sales makes the power of personalization scalable for teams.
Here are a few ways that sales teams are using AI personalization to boost conversions and boost closings:
- Sending personalized emails based on inputs like contact history
- Analyzing the content and sentiment of sales calls or emails and recommending relevant action steps
- Personalizing landing pages and demo pages
- Sending call highlights to leads to move conversations forward
Lead scoring is another example of how AI tools can enhance the person-to-person work of sales professionals. Generative AI can analyze historical data and identify correlations that predict how likely a lead is to convert.
With this data, AI tools can identify the most promising leads for sales reps to focus their time and attention.
Create Better Insights
Beyond the sales process, generative AI can help sales managers gain real-time insights into effective strategies, forecast revenue, and give feedback to improve a sales team’s performance.
New tools can offer predictive forecasting with data-based AI projections for sales managers.
Sales Feedback and Coaching
Generative AI tools can also extract call insights to give both generalized and individualized feedback. It can look at large datasets to uncover common objections and best practices, for example. It can also create individualized coaching materials for sales reps and even interactive training simulations to allow them to handle different scenarios.
“Generative AI is revolutionizing how organizations approach sales training and skill development, going beyond external-facing sales activities,” shares Evan Kirstel, Co-Founder and Chief Digital Evangelist of eViRa Health. “By leveraging the power of AI, businesses can enhance their sales force’s performance, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and optimize their overall sales potential.”
Generative AI Tools for Sales Teams
It’s time to start planning how to test and adopt AI in your sales organization to ensure you don’t get left behind by your competitors.
To win over a skeptical team or simply test the capabilities, demo a generative AI tool and watch for outcomes like time saved and engagement rates with leads. We’ve compiled the top six generative AI tools for sales teams for you to explore.
HubSpot Content Assistant
- Price: Free with additional features for premium HubSpot accounts.
- Best for: All sizes of businesses, individuals, sales enablement, and HubSpot users.
- What we like: This content assistant is easy to use and keeps all your content creation in one place, rather than toggling between tools.
HubSpot launched its AI Content Assistant in 2023 to save people time and help them easily create content. Content Assistant natively integrates with HubSpot features so users can enhance their sales and marketing campaigns.
Content Assistant features include writing prospecting emails and helping you articulate your thoughts when the words aren’t flowing. For instance, you can ask the Content Assistant to generate a paragraph describing the advantages of a 401(k) plan.
- Price: Free with additional features for premium HubSpot accounts.
- Best for: All sizes of businesses, individuals, and HubSpot users.
- What we like: ChatSpot is conversational and has a personality. The animated bot dances and delivers clever filler lines while it’s processing answers.
Have you ever left a note to remind yourself to do something in the future or wanted to duplicate yourself to get more done in a day? ChatSpot is an AI bot that interacts with your sales data to help you work more effectively in your CRM.
With the app, HubSpot users can use shortcuts to complete tasks quickly, add contacts with follow-up reminders, or create reports. You can research prospects and company intelligence (including funding data) with just an email address.
You can also ask ChatSpot to generate sales enablement content like emails, blogs, or images.
- Price: Free plans are available. Paid plans start at $89 per month.
- Best for: Small-to-medium businesses, individuals, and startups.
- What we like: Regie.ai has a free Google Chrome extension for writing sales emails that works with Gmail, Outlook, HubSpot, LinkedIn, SalesLoft, and more.
As a newcomer, Regie.ai has built a tool rivaling the functionality of giants like Salesforce and Microsoft. Companies already using a legacy CRM will have to decide if it’s worth integrating a third-party tool versus an AI tool in their legacy software.
One excellent Regie.ai feature is its prospect intelligence tool which pulls in data about your prospect from web pages, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can choose which data points you want the assistant to consider when composing your message. Regie.ai also offers team collaboration tools such as workspaces, campaign templates, and document commenting.
Salesforce Einstein GPT
- Price: Included in Sales Cloud packages from $25-$300 a month per user.
- Best for: Salesforce users, large-to-enterprise companies, sales enablement.
- What we like: Reporting and analytics features delivered to (Salesforce-owned) Slack with insights like short summaries of sales opportunities.
While its Sales Cloud Einstein features date back to 2016, Salesforce recently launched the Einstein GPT tool to add generative capabilities across all their hubs.
Einstein GPT combines OpenAI’s ChatGPT with its AI models and Data Cloud for a robust tool that boosts productivity. The tool can score leads and auto-generate sales tasks like researching prospects, composing emails, and preparing for the next sales interaction. It also takes notes from sales calls, transcribing highlights and assigning action items to reps.
It’s also important to note Einstein GPT’s Marketing Cloud functions, like generating dynamic, personalized content across marketing channels. Einstein GPT also uses Tableau data to prompt you when it might be time to sell and upgrade to your clients based on usage or other factors.
Microsoft Viva Sales
- Price: $40 a month per user plus a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription
- Best for: Outlook super-users, large-to-enterprise companies
- What we like: Since Viva Sales links your inbox with your CRM, you can make updates and add notes to your CRM without leaving your inbox. Viva Sales supports 24 languages in its interface and 16 languages for conversation intelligence.
Microsoft has joined the generative AI game by launching Viva Sales in 2023. Viva Sales lets Microsoft 365 users level up their inboxes by linking their CRM to their inboxes and adding AI-powered tools.
Viva Sales can record and transcribe sales calls and compose personalized emails. With this data, it uses AI to share call highlights for your CRM, track call sentiment, and recommend action steps.
- Price: $12 to $40+ a month per user
- Best for: Sales enablement
- What we like: If you need to make a change to an element like a team member’s photo, you can apply that change across all slide decks at once. There’s also an AI generator for images to wow your audience with visuals that are anything but stock.
This tool is for you if you’ve ever managed sales collateral only to discover that your sales team uses a slide deck from 5 years ago in their pitch.
With Beautiful.ai, gone are the days of staying up til midnight creating or updating slides for your sales demo. Its DesignerBot can generate slides for your sales team with just a few prompts.
Here’s how it works: You tell Beautiful.ai what type of presentation you want to make and any data you want to visualize. The Smart Slide Templates will create a first draft for you in line with your brand guidelines.
If anything isn’t working, you can change individual elements or ask beautiful.ai to change the tone.
Beautiful.ai currently integrates with Slack, PowerPoint, Dropbox, and Monday.com.
The Future of Generative AI in Sales
If there’s anything that sales leaders can agree on, it’s that generative AI will trigger major shifts in sales practices in the next few years. Sales professionals will transition to spending less time on admin and more time selling and inputting AI prompts.
As generative AI unlocks the potential for an increased volume of sales content, companies need to make sure that their quality of content remains strong and that their value proposition is compelling.
While the possibilities of generative AI in sales are exciting and transformative, the foundation of trust and relationship-building isn’t going anywhere.