By Daniel Incandela, chief marketing officer, Conga


Today, artificial intelligence (AI) has become an everyday marketing term and a buzzword. Besides blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is probably one of the most referenced technologies amongst enterprises and their sales teams. Whilst it has the potential to transform everyday business, it is a phrase that is steadily being overused, and it has become hard to separate the ‘hype’ from reality.

As machine learning, natural language processing and robotic process automation (RPA) become the focus of every sales pitch, now more than ever, marketers must fully-understand the technology that they are selling if they are to be convincing. Rather than making bold claims, they must be open and honest with their prospective customers if they are to stay relevant in the increasingly competitive landscape and cut through the noise.

Too often, fierce market competition drives the dialogue around new technology and companies feel pressured to talk about their product offerings and how they harness new innovations, such as AI, despite being new to the game. Naturally, the word has become ambiguous. As more and more claims are made by other companies, the myth or hype around AI generates distrust amongst consumers and they begin to doubt both the product and the company’s intentions – even those that genuinely offer real, transformative solutions.

In fact, AI is an umbrella term for so many different types of technologies, it can be difficult for customers to see its benefits, or where it could potentially be best utilised within their business. Luckily, there are real AI players that deliver on their promises and offer practical solutions as opposed to just marketing-chatter.

Educating customers – explain how to solve their problem

From the outset, marketers should offer a clear solution to a prospective customer’s main pain point. They should personalise their pitch to the individual needs of that particular business – if they are encountering bottle-necks due to manual errors or slow internal processes, sales teams must explain how AI and automating certain elements of their business will lead to greater efficiency. Being as transparent as possible when talking about products and how the offering can be personalised to fit their business needs will cut through any initial scepticism on their part.

Granular vs. cryptic – get down to the details 

AI is a business priority for most organisations and most business leaders are in fact aware of the different types, as well as its capabilities. However, they may not necessarily know how to apply it specifically to their business. As reported by McKinsey, one of the main reasons DX initiatives fail is because most organisations and business leaders do not know how best to integrate it within their existing operating model. Customers want detail – and to be granular when explaining the components and outcomes of the  technology – they do not want to be misled. Offer tangible evidence about the benefits of AI and wider business transformation in their sector, rather than cryptic buzzwords.

Establishing trust – offer a demonstration of your technology

Given the hype throughout the market, it is imperative that businesses sell value and build a relationship. This is the first touch point with a prospective customer and they have likely been approached by multiple vendors. Only by showing that the business is here for the long haul – to help them build systems that enable them to do their job better, that are tried and tested through careful implementation. As trusted advisors, there is a responsibility to help them perfect their business.

The key to establishing trust and building a relationship is through complete transparency. By showing customers how AI-enabled product works and offering to spend time with them walking them through each area of the technology is key. Not only will this help corroborate the business claims, but this commitment, a real-time demonstration, will show them that the company is invested in their company and value their time.

Of course, expect many questions. Learning how to accurately talk about a true AI solution amongst the hype is difficult. Sales teams need to authentic to make their product relatable. Use specifics, offering solutions to real business problems. In doing so, businesses will not only distinguish themselves from those making ‘bold’ and unlikely claims, but separate the hype from reality. Customers will be convinced that AI is a product to believe in. Be authentic.

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