October 11, 2023

AI for SDRs: How Sales Development Reps Can Automate Processes

With traditional, high-volume sales approaches, the amount of revenue a sales team can bring in is usually tied to the number of SDRs they can afford to hire. Once all SDRs are at capacity, the team needs to bring in more reps in order to uncover new leads, fill the sales team’s pipeline, and spur additional growth.

But with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), that’s no longer the case. 

Today, AI can help sales teams make smarter decisions, increase their productivity, and earn more revenue—all without having to hire additional headcount.

tl;dr AI enables sales teams to scale with processes, not humans.

How can AI help SDRs?

Within sales teams, SDRs function as specialized sales reps who focus exclusively on prospecting. Unlike sales reps and account managers, they don’t focus on closing deals or managing clients—instead, they spend their time reaching out to and qualifying leads and booking demos before passing leads on to account executives.

At most companies, SDRs’ workflows are structured and repeatable, which means they’re great candidates for offloading work onto AI. For instance, AI can help SDRs:

Offloading work to AI tools can help SDRs increase the number of leads they pursue without sacrificing on quality. 

For instance, say your SDRs have a quota of contacting 1,000 people a month with a 12-touch outreach cadence (a combination of emails, LinkedIn messages, emails, texts, phone calls, etc)—the quality at that volume isn’t going to be great. 

Putting it into numbers: 

By the last day of the month, according to ZoomInfo, each SDR would be working on:

  • 360 calls
  • 270 emails
  • 90 LinkedIn InMail messages

If it takes an SDR an average of two minutes to personalize a LinkedIn message, they’d be spending an average of three hours per day simply drafting LinkedIn messages.

However, say you equip SDRs with an AI writing tool that creates personalized LinkedIn messages for them in seconds: all they have to do is enter the prospect’s LinkedIn URL and information about your company or product. That could quickly halve or quarter the amount of time your SDRs spend on personalizing LinkedIn messages—freeing up one day per week for them.

Similarly, AI can also minimize the amount of time SDRs spend personalizing cold emails, checking leads off an Excel list, or following up with prospects—making it possible for SDRs to scale their workload without burning out.

With potential results like that, is it any wonder that Gartner expects 75% of B2B organizations to augment their sales playbooks with AI by 2025?

Ways that AI can help your SDRs

So, now that we’ve sold you on why you should pay attention to AI, let’s dive into the specific ways AI can be integrated into your SDRs’ workflows.

Outreach and communication

Considering that it generally takes at least 12 touches to reach an individual prospect, it probably isn’t surprising that outreach takes up the bulk of SDRs’ time. It also remains one of the most challenging areas for SDRs, with 41% of SDR leaders citing messaging as their biggest challenge at work.

Fortunately, advances in AI have made it easier and more efficient for SDRs to streamline their outreach and communication at scale.

Let’s look at some of the ways AI can support the different channels SDRs use to connect with prospects.

Cold emails

According to HubSpot research, salespeople spend a lot of their day on tasks that could very well be automated, with writing emails being at the top of the list.

hubspot reserach—SDR tasks that can be automated

Sales reps spend a lot of their time on email outreach and rightly so. At this stage, most SDRs know that personalization pays off. No one wants to be called “Sir/Madam,” or hear about product features that don’t apply to their pain points. Yet, when SDRs need to send 270 emails in a day, even spending five minutes personalizing each email would mean spending 22.5 hours a day on emails alone. 

It simply isn’t possible.

There’s a massive opportunity to free up your SDR teams’ time by automating the cold emails that take up the majority of their day. But, beyond automation, Copy.ai has an added layer of magic: generative AI with personalization.

Personalized outreach has the potential to improve open rates and conversions, as well as break the ice even before a prospect engages. 

An AI tool like Copy.ai’s Sales Cold Email tool automates the process of writing and personalizing a cold email. All it requires is a lead’s public LinkedIn profile and a couple of sentences on your company or product.

You can also use some prompt-magic to get the same result through Chat by Copy.ai.

For instance, if I wanted to pitch Copy.ai to content marketers, I could include the following prompt, which I selected from Chat’s Prompt Library and customized with a LinkedIn profile:

copy.ai prompt library for personalized cold emails
copy.ai prompt with extra information

Copy.ai will then provide the following personalized email to send to the prospect—generated in under 30 seconds:

copy.ai end result

To speed up cold email generation even further, sales leaders can integrate Copy.ai with their customer relationship management (CRM) tool, so that cold emails are triggered whenever an SDR adds a new prospect to Salesforce (or your CRM of choice). This means the first step of your outreach campaign can be entirely automated.

LinkedIn messages

For many SDRs, outreach isn’t limited to the confines of their prospects’ inboxes. Social selling is alive and well, and many SDRs find it helpful to reach out to prospects on LinkedIn.

This is another instance where personalization is important, and AI can dramatically speed up that process. Copy.ai’s Sales LinkedIn InMail tool lets SDRs craft short, personalized InMail messages in seconds, based on just a short product description and the prospect’s LinkedIn URL.

For instance, if I wanted to pitch Copy.ai to an SDR, here’s the prompt I might use, generated through Chat:

Copy.ai linkedin inmail prompt
Prompt for Linkedin Cold Message

And here’s the message it generates in response:

Output for inmail message

Even if your SDRs decide to tweak the draft Copy.ai generates for them, they’ll still be able to craft personalized LinkedIn messages in a fraction of the time.


Okay, so there’s no way that AI can actually take over calls for your SDRs yet. However, it can help SDRs become more effective in their conversations with prospects by providing them with feedback.

Gong, for instance, is an AI-based sales tool that analyzes every rep’s calls and provides early insights into messaging that is (and isn’t) working. It can also detect and compare patterns within conversations, which can help leaders identify the actions top performers are taking, as well as provide coaching opportunities for newer team members.

Gong.ai AI-powered recommendations for SDRs
Gong AI-powered call tracker

Giving SDRs this type of feedback on a routine basis allows them to continually improve their skills—and, by proxy, your results.

Lead scoring

With only so many hours in a day, it’s critical for SDRs to be able to score and prioritize leads. Traditionally, to do this, SDRs have either had to rely on their instincts (not always reliable!) or manually score leads to determine how likely they were to convert.

As it turns out, however, AI isn’t just good at lead scoring—it’s often better at it than humans are. AI can take in a larger number of data points to score leads, and it can spot patterns that we might miss.

Lead scoring AI tools like Salesforce Sales Cloud, 6sense, and VanillaSoft can help prioritize leads for SDRs based on:

  • Company data, such as number of employees, funding, or industry
  • Individual data, such as a specific lead’s job title
  • Actions leads have taken, such as opening an email, starting a free trial, or watching a demo

When AI takes over lead scoring, SDRs not only get that time back in their week—they can prioritize high-quality leads. reach out to leads knowing they’re prioritizing the right ones.

Workflow automation

When SDRs are making dozens of phone calls and sending hundreds of messages every day, a few tasks are bound to slip through the cracks here and there—even if you work with a dedicated team of Type A personalities. 

In fact, human error costs companies millions every year.

Here are some common mistakes SDRs tend to make:

  • Misspelling a prospect’s name to kick the cold email off
  • Wrong company name mentioned in the pitch
  • Misusing “your” and “you’re”
  • Resending the same email twice to a prospect

Workflow automation, however, helps remove human error from the equation. AI tools like Outreach and Salesflow make it easy to create custom workflows for SDRs, so that when they log in every day, all of the tasks they need to carry out are conveniently lined up for them.

Many workflow automation platforms will also integrate with your CRM. This means SDRs don’t need to remember to log activities or customer conversations—it all just syncs automatically, giving SDRs one less task to worry about.

How to integrate AI into SDRs’ workflows

As you’ve seen, there are a number of ways that AI can improve SDRs’ workflows. However, chances are that your budget won’t let you integrate all of the tools above at once. So, how can you get started?

Analyze your needs

Start by taking a close look at your sales process and the results it’s generating for you. 

  • Where are your current pain points and bottlenecks? 
  • Are SDRs prioritizing the wrong leads, spending too long on messaging, or are they struggling to get the results they need on calls?
  • What processes can you automate?

Based on your answers, identify the area where AI could provide the biggest lift for your team. Now that you know the type of solution you want to use, you’ll need to decide on a provider.

Decide on a solution

Different platforms tend to have different strengths. Start by writing out a list of “need to have” features and “nice to have” features based on your team’s particular needs. Next, look for potential sales automation tools that meet as many of those criteria as possible (eliminate those that don’t).

Here are a few to kick off your search:

  • Copy.ai: Automate and scale personalized cold email and LinkedIn outreach content creation.
  • HubSpot Sales: Automate lead scoring and forecasting.
  • Gong: Automate lead scoring, tracking, and forecasting. Bonus, you can push your Gong transcripts into Workflows by Copy.ai to better understand your Voice of Customer, improve call scripts, and more.
  • Gmass: Automate cold emailing, follow-up messages, and team reporting. 

If you’re still stuck between a few good options, do a deep dive into each provider’s pricing, reviews, and customer support. If they offer free trials, take each solution out for a test drive to see which one feels like a better fit for your use case.

Train your team

Once you’ve implemented a solution, it’s time to train your team members on it! After all, if no one’s using it, what’s the point?

Make sure that team members understand exactly how the new tool will benefit them, and give them explicit training on how to use certain features and integrations to make their day-to-day life easier. Make this information easily accessible by recording training videos or creating written guides to train new and existing employees.

Boost your SDRs’ results with AI

With the help of AI, SDRs can improve practically every aspect of their workflow—from lead scoring to outreach to their communication on calls. If you’re ready to start experimenting with AI to improve your SDRs’ results, you can start for free with Copy.ai’s cold email and LinkedIn InMail generator.

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