February 22, 2024

"But AI Won't Work for Me": A Discussion with Jen-Allen Knuth

Note: This blog post recap was written by AI using the trasncript from the video above. Please refer to the text as a starting point, but for the full conversation, you'll want to bookmark and watch the entire video.

Today we sat down with Jen Allen-Knuth, a sales professional with over 18 years of experience selling SaaS products.

Jen has recently started experimenting with AI tools like ChatGPT to assist with sales tasks, but so far she's skeptical about the value AI can provide for sellers.

As Jen put it, "I gave ChatGPT a try on some basic sales tasks like pulling prospect lists and drafting cold emails, but the results seemed too generic and repetitive to me. Plus there was a steep learning curve to generate anything useful."

Over the course of 45 minutes, Jen discussed her views on leveraging AI as part of the sales process. We covered the pros and cons she's encountered, whether AI can actually save sellers time, and if it helps or hinders developing critical sales skills.

It was a thought-provoking conversation on the role artificial intelligence can (and can't) play in transforming sales workflows in the years ahead.

Read on as we summarize Jen's main perspectives on using AI as a seller.

Jen's Concerns About AI for Sellers

Jen Allen-Knuth, our guest today, has tried using AI tools like ChatGPT for sales but has found the experience underwhelming so far.

As a seller, Jen feels the learning curve to use these new AI tools seems too steep compared to the potential benefits.

She has invested time trying tools like ChatGPT but the output has seemed generic, unpersonalized, and ultimately unhelpful for her specific selling context. Jen says, "The promised benefits of AI for sellers are unclear to me. I'm not seeing how it will make me more effective or efficient yet based on the mediocre results I'm getting."

In other words, Jen is skeptical that AI can provide value over her own knowledge and instincts as an experienced seller.

The time investment required to learn how to use new AI tools well does not seem justified to Jen currently. She believes AI may hold promise in the future, but the technology does not seem mature enough yet to improve outcomes for sellers.

Kyle's Enthusiasm for AI Transforming Selling

As CMO of Copy.ai, Kyle is an AI enthusiast who believes the technology can transform selling in major ways.

He thinks AI tools like ChatGPT have the potential to save sellers significant time on repetitive and mundane tasks like research and content creation.

For example, AI can quickly generate piles of account research on potential leads, freeing up sellers to focus more strategic work like persuasion and problem-solving. AI tools can also draft pitches and emails tailored to specific accounts, allowing sellers to easily personalize outreach while preserving their unique human touch.

According to Kyle, AI will enable sellers to operate at a higher level, spending less time on tedious tasks and more time building relationships, understanding needs, and devising creative solutions.

The time savings also allow customer-facing reps to interact with more leads and accounts.

In Kyle's view, AI promises to revolutionize efficiency and strategy for modern sales teams.

Kyle Demonstrates AI Workflows for Sellers

On the call, Kyle walked through some real examples of how AI can be leveraged by sellers in their day-to-day workflows.

He starts with account research.

Kyle shows how an AI assistant can take a company name and website and generate an overview of the company, key personnel, product offerings, and recent news. The output includesactionable details like contact names, titles, and LinkedIn profiles.

Next, Kyle demonstrates AI for email outreach.

He inputs a target account and asks the AI to generate a first cold outreach email. In seconds, a thoughtful and personalized email appears, tailored to the prospect's role and company. Jen is particularly impressed by the quality of the language and personalization.

Kyle then shows how AI can generate content like social media posts and blog ideas based on a seller's target customer and product. The output is on-brand, on-topic, and gives sellers a strong starting point.

Finally, he shows AI summarizing reports and surface insights from large datasets. The key facts, conclusions and next steps are presented in easily consumable formats.

Jen admits she is very impressed with the quality, depth, and specificity of the AI output Kyle demonstrated.

The workflows show how AI can provide a launchpad for sellers at every step while preserving the human touch.

AI as a Launchpad for Sellers

Kyle argues that AI output provides sellers with a strong starting point to build personalized outreach.

While the AI generates initial content like emails or social media posts, it's designed to help jumpstart the process while still allowing sellers to maintain a human touch.

The key benefit is efficiency - sellers can get draft content created in seconds versus the hours it might take to manually research and write initial outreach from scratch. This saves significant time.

But the AI output isn't meant to replace the seller entirely.

Instead, it gives them a launchpad to then customize the language and connect it back to previous conversations and the prospect's specific needs. So the human touch remains to ensure the outreach is truly tailored.

Jen acknowledges that while manual research does build critical sales skills, it's often so time-consuming that sellers end up skipping this process entirely. The result is ineffective, generic outreach. With AI, sellers can get the insight fast in order to build skills, while still having the ability to make the outreach personal.

So for Jen, Kyle's demonstration shows how AI and humans can complement each other - not replace one another.

The AI gives sellers a head start, while the human seller brings it home. This combination leads to the most effective, yet personalized sales outreach.

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