AI Can’t Sell Itself



As powerful, promising, and advanced AI is, it does not have the ability to sell itself to the end users of the technology. That leaves the makers of AI products and services in a position to sell what they sell using human beings. How can companies sell their AI technology?

The most widely adopted sales model used by tech firms is inside sales


Inside sales is the process of selling (what you sell) to those most likely to buy.

Because it’s a remote process, the sales dynamics differ entirely from a client-facing (in-person) sales model although these two models can be coupled together in a variety of iterations.

The foundational pillars of an inside sales model are:

  • Data: who is most likely to buy, where are they located, revenue/type of company, decision makers, number of employees?
  • Process: what is the sales process and its integral parts, and what is the time and distance between each step in the process?
  • Infrastructure: what tools are in place to help drive the sale? E.g. software, autodialer, marketing materials, proven sales pitch, email templates, training, metrics tracking, etc.
  • Team: leaders, reps, appointment setters, lead generators, etc.

Strategy and tactics drive an inside sales initiative. Rationale and data to support that rationale underly the overarching strategy.

An inside sales model must be:

  • Sustainable
  • Repeatable
  • Predictable

Testing, proof of concept, and optimization are the precursors to a sustainable, predictable, inside sales process.


What are the most important underlying principles of an inside sales initiative?


Customer acquisition cost and lifetime customer value must make economic sense and are the most important metrics that underly an inside sales effort. In planning these numbers need to be hashed out first and then tested against.

The promises of AI are many and diverse but my prediction is that it will never be able to cold call the correct decision maker on the phone, have a conversation, speak to solutions to specific problems, negotiate contract pricing, terms and conditions, build trust, demonstrate expertise, and close a deal.

The perspectives set forth here are based on working with more than 300 companies over the last 36 years on every aspect of inside sales including many of America’s leading technology firms, private equity, and VC firms.