March 19, 2024
March 19, 2024

The AI Sales Funnel: How It’s Changing the Game for Sales Leaders

As a sales professional, you’re no stranger to sales funnels.

You know you must fill it with qualified leads to drive revenue for your business.

But here’s the thing. The traditional approach to managing funnels is too time-consuming and labour-intensive, leading to wasted resources and missed opportunities.

That's where an AI sales funnel comes in.

It transforms the traditional sales funnel with its automation, personalization, and predictive analytics abilities. The result? Enhanced lead generation, higher conversion rates, optimized sales, and greater marketing ROI. 

At the end of this article, you’ll learn three main things:

  1. What an AI sales funnel is,
  2. Differences between the old and new funnel,
  3. And the benefits of leveraging AI in your organization’s sales process. 

What Is an AI Sales Funnel?

An AI sales funnel uses artificial intelligence technologies to optimize and automate the customer journey from the initial point to the final purchase. AI enhances the traditional sales funnel by leveraging data, algorithms, and machine learning to analyze customer behaviors and patterns.

This results in more effective targeting, messaging, and lead nurturing for GTM teams using AI.

A typical sales funnel has five stages: 

  • Awareness: where prospects first become aware of your company.
  • Interest: where you provide content and value to nurture them.
  • Consideration: where leads actively evaluate your solution and compare it with others.
  • Decision: where leads are ready to become customers.
  • Action: where they take action and purchase your product or service.

In the past, managing these various stages required a lot of manual effort. For instance, in…  

Manual Prospecting

SDRs have to scour social media, company websites, contact lists, etc., to identify and research potential leads, which takes a lot of time.

Manual Outreaching

They painstakingly craft personalized messages and send them to each lead to generate interest.

Manual Note-Taking

During sales calls, AEs have to take hand notes on prospects’ pain points, objections, and backgrounds. This is stressful, hinders the flow of the conversation, and makes it easy for important details to fall through the cracks.

Manual Follow-Ups

After the calls, they are responsible for scheduling and sending follow-up messages. And without reminders or automation, it’s easy for them to forget or mix things up. 

While this old-fashioned method does work, it’s also stressful, more prone to errors, and inefficient. AI eliminates the inefficiencies in the sales process, so you can:

Create Quality Content To Get More Inbound Interest

Creating content for the interest stage of the sales funnel is now easier with AI content creation tools. These tools (like Copy.ai workflows) assist in helping you generate high-quality blog posts, social media updates, emails, video scripts, and other content types faster to attract and engage potential customers. 

Case in point, in Hubspot’s 2023 State of AI report, 83% of professionals say using generative AI helps them create more content than usual, and 89% state it improves the quality of their content.

Even though AI can’t replace human creativity (and you should always refine the output), it does speed up the process by providing a good starting point you can build upon.

Generate personalized pitches for outbound campaigns

AI sales assistants can create customized pitches tailored to each prospect's role, interests, and pain points.

This level of personalization increases response rates and makes such outreaches much more effective. With Copy.ai, you can create a workflow to find prospects, research them, and generate personalized cold emails requiring little to no tweaks.

See an example:

Personalized cold email workflow 

You can incorporate AI in your sales cycle to handle things like:

Call Insights

Conversation intelligence software like Gong and Avoma sit in on sales calls, take notes, and analyze the elements of the conversation, like customer tone, sentiment, and objections, to provide valuable insights. This information helps sales teams improve their techniques and communication.

Updating Notes in Your CRM

Is any task more annoying for sales professionals than updating mass or bulky CRM records? Thankfully, this grunt work is now a thing of the past. Solutions like PeopleGlass can extract relevant information from various sources, such as emails, calls, or recordings, and automatically populate the CRM fields. It helps you save time, which you can then divert to closing more deals.

Lead Scoring

With predictive analytics and sophisticated lead scoring models, AI can prioritize leads based on their conversion likelihood. This lets you concentrate on more promising leads instead of chasing after cold prospects.

Sales Enablement

There are different categories of AI sales enablement tools, and they aim to arm sales reps with customized materials, real-time insights, automation, talking points, and training resources to do their jobs and drive better results throughout the sales process.

Follow-up Messaging

AI also automates follow-ups by tracking engagement and behavior. If they go quiet, it analyzes data to determine the best time and channel (email, LinkedIn, etc.) to follow up with the prospect.

It saves you the stress of doing all that tracking and research. 

Key Benefits of AI for Sales Funnels

Some of the benefits AI offers for sales funnels include:

1. Automation of Repetitive Tasks

The sales profession is all about operational efficiency. It is about saving time, improving sales processes, and maximizing productivity.

Unfortunately, reps spend much time on repetitive administrative tasks like data entry, prospecting,  updating CRM records, follow-ups, and scheduling meetings. This leaves them with little time actually to sell and hit their quota.

AI solves this problem by automating tedious tasks so you can focus on higher-value activities. In the HubSpot’s report cited earlier, automating manual tasks is the most popular use case for AI. And 79% of salespeople using it say it allows them to spend more time selling. 

2. Identification of Gaps and Areas for Improvement

AI tools can analyze sales data in each stage of your funnel to uncover gaps, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement. For example, some AI solutions can analyze customer interactions to identify where sales teams struggle.

Or, by examining certain metrics like lead volume and conversion rates, it can pinpoint where leads are dropping off and why.

3. Optimization of Messaging and Offers at Each Stage

Using A/B or split testing of various elements (subject lines, copy, landing pages, etc.) and variations of messaging and offer, AI can determine which ones resonate most with your audience at each stage.

This allows sales teams to optimize their approach and messaging for the best results.

4. Personalization Based on Buyer Personas and Behaviors

It also ensures you say the right thing to the right person at the right time, thus maximizing your chances of success.

How? AI analyzes buyer personas, behaviors, and actions to deliver personalized content and recommendations to each prospect.

Say the lead visits your landing page and downloads a report on a study you conducted. AI can send a relevant email with a special offer linked to that interest. That’s dynamic personalization in action. It demonstrates that you understand each prospect’s needs, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion. 

Ling, a gamified language learning app with over 10 million downloads, has seen great results with this approach.

They use AI to analyze the preferences, behaviors, and pain points of their bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) leads. In turn, this lets them craft highly personalized content such as targeted case studies, solution-oriented whitepapers, or interactive product demos. 

According to Simon Bacher, the app’s Co-Founder, they saw a “98% increase in website traffic, conversion, and app download rates upon implementing this approach in Q4 of 2023”. 

Impressive right? That’s the power of using AI for sales funnels, and it enables scaling this 1:1 personalization across your entire pipeline.

Prediction of Customer Preferences and Pain Points

Using predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms, AI tools can break down historical customer data and current interactions to uncover trends and patterns in prospect behavior and preferences. This results in accurate predictions of what customers are looking for and what challenges they face, giving you a competitive edge in understanding and meeting customer demands.

Uncovering New Revenue Opportunities

Finally, it can help you find untapped segments, cross-sell/upsell openings, and new product/service opportunities. This lets you make more money and contributes to business growth, which is the ultimate goal of all your sales efforts.

Tips for Getting Started With AI in the Sales Process

Now that you’ve seen all the amazing benefits of AI sales funnels, here’s how to leverage it.

Integrate AI tools with existing sales & marketing stack

First, select the AI solutions that fit your needs and can integrate with your current CRM, email marketing software, and any other relevant system. 

Once you’ve connected them, implement the changes on a small scale to assess how the tools will perform. If you’re satisfied with the results, roll it out to everyone on the team. Provide proper training and support to ensure the adoption of the tools.

Best Practices for Using AI-generated Insights

  • AI is an assistive technology, meaning it still needs human input. So don’t blindly follow all its recommendations because it has its limitations. Combine them with your expertise and judgment.
  • Keep your eye on your sales funnel goals and ensure the insights you receive align with your overarching business goals.
  • Train the AI system to improve effectiveness by providing feedback and corrections when necessary. Monitor its performance and make adjustments to ensure that the insights generated are accurate, relevant, and actionable for your sales team.
  • Test new data inputs and algorithms regularly to optimize your specific funnel's AI models and functionality.
  • Clean and structure your data before feeding it into any AI tool for the best results. Low-quality data will result in low-quality AI output.

Embrace AI Sales Funnels To Increase Conversions and Meet Your Sales Goals

AI is transforming the performance of sales funnels by automating manual tasks, providing useful insights, and making interactions personalized.

With it, you can generate more qualified leads, reduce drop-offs, uncover new opportunities, and boost conversions. All of which enable you to meet and even exceed your sales quota.

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