AI-Based Prospecting and Lead Generation  - Sales Dev Hub - RightBound
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AI-Based Prospecting and Lead Generation 

Lead generation and prospecting are without a doubt vital processes in the customer acquisition journey to help businesses connect with their target market. These processes help drive revenue and increase the average success rate of gaining new customers. Another important aspect that is becoming more prevalent everyday is the use of AI within these initiatives. RightBound is a leader in using AI for optimum lead generation and prospecting, so we delve deeper into exactly how AI is changing the way we prospect and how lead generation is altered as a whole. 

To do so, our VP of Marketing Roni Green sat down with an all-star panel of thought leaders for a Q & A session. RightBound feels incredibly fortunate to have these heavy hitters to share their knowledge and experience in the area of AI as it relates to Lead Generation and Prospecting: 

● Rohit Arora- Founder/CEO at Mavenwit 

● Filip Popov- VP, Strategic Partnerships at Growth Era 

● Carlo Zemaitis- Co-Founder & COO at GrowTech 

● Janet Ballonoff- Founder, Principal Consultant at Marketing Strategy Solutions 

RONI (HOST): What are some key indicators that your company is ready to implement AI based sales processes and tools? 

CARLO: The time to implement AI based processes/tools is before you hire your first salesperson. Before you ask your HR to hire your first AE or sales rep you look at what you currently have in place, all the ins and outs, because if you are to hire a salesperson with a broken process you would waste your own time, money, and your Account Executive’s specialty. Salespeople need to spend time with customer’s face to face and focus on the revenue generating tasks, not manual processes. If you don’t have the latest technology or AI then your sales reps will need to manually write all the emails, they will need to research the account, they will need to write the best compelling copy…

PHIL: I agree with what Carlo said, everyone needs to be using AI. I think there have been plenty of companies at the moment that just because AI is a hot topic right now, everyone wants to hear AI or just just see it as part of a solution as part of a software and they’re kind of like jumping on the boat, even if they don’t have AI but I personally 

think everyone should use any sort of form of artificial intelligence but first try to find the wisdom, like what Carlo mentioned. You need to find the processes where AI will actually help, before you hire people or not do anything until you have clearly defined what you need, what you want to do, and how AI can help you in that. I’ve always been a big believer that you need to know the essence of something, just manually doing a process where you get to understand each each parts of it and what the benefits are and 

what can go wrong and then based on that try to see how AI can help. It’s obviously not going to be perfect all the time so I guess manual exercises are going to work wonders for trying to see where AI didn’t really work so I can just just go back and fix that part and then just continue moving forward. That’s kind of like my take. Then you know that can backfire from a different perspective because now you’re kind of like the Jack of All Trades but Master of None so you don’t really have any control over anything and you know if you’re paying for tools then that 

then that could cost a lot over time. 

RONI (HOST): Those are great takeaways. So if we look at prospecting and lead generation, how can AI assist in the research phase in identifying and maybe in prioritizing high quality relevant prospects for Account Executives, SDRs, and sales teams in general? 

ROHIT: I think prioritizing the high-quality prospect for the sales team is pretty simple. We can say AI can assist in analyzing the potential customers for data, like identifying where the customers are spending more time and where the customers are spending more effort in the entire system. So it’s better for us, it’s better for the entire company and it’s better in the end for any organization to convert the particular customer into the

sale. When they can have much better data they can retarget, they know the past behavior of the consumer, they know the geographic region. They can retarget the customer and they can have much better interaction with the customer. AI is a great fit and AI helps sales teams focus their efforts on leads, most likely to result in successful sales. After having all these things, they can obviously deliver more conversions, more sales, and a bigger closing rate for the company. 

JANET: AI really gets beyond some of the traditional lead scoring and demographic scoring and things like that. It helps you really understand, like Rohit said, where they are spending their time and how valuable they are. You know a lot of times we’ll see in a company that’s using lead scoring that somebody might have a really high score because they’re engaging with all of the content, but if somebody’s engaging with all of the content, it might be an indicator that they’re really just a tire kicker and not a serious buyer. So that high score could really be kind of like a false positive. So being able to use the AI to help get past some of those things as well as making sure that with the sales enablement and continuing those conversations. It is very conversational and you’re talking to the person with where they are, the type of information that they’re interacting with and helping them move along the sales process. 

RONI (HOST): I love the false positive angle! Maybe they are your competitors who are studying all of your marketing materials. Carlo, I think you also wanted to talk about lead scoring and a few other points. 

CARLO: Yes, so lead scoring is essential nowadays, especially if your marketing dept does a good job, meaning they are bringing a lot of leads to your landing page and they are filling out the forms. Lead scoring definitely helps to filter them out as well. There are like plenty of tools that you can write everything about yourself as a company, what kind of products you are selling, what are your ICPs, your personas and any other intent data you can feed the AI. AI learns from your knowledge base and once those leads are coming so they are automatically being scored with the AI, as well. So that’s like one element of the lead scoring. I think that another element that is quite important is what

happens once the seller and a buyer jump on a call. There are a few tools that join you like an assistant and records the entire session. They do not just transcribe the entire communication between the seller and the prospect, which is all quite important, but analyze the body language, word selection, sentence structures and all that. It helps sellers to actually better understand the prospects, what they are actually selling, if they are actually interested. Just by looking into the camera or they are not looking into the camera and other body language, all those elements that are not necessarily being recognized by all the salespeople. AI definitely helps in that way as well to prioritize leads and helps to close more businesses for that account. 

RONI (HOST): Definitely. I’ve been using those tools more and more. We used to only rely on the written kind of summary of a notetaker and suddenly this year the market has exploded with, as you mentioned, tools that gauge body language, tone of voice and the attention of the person on the camera, so it’s really crazy. I always wonder who is analyzing me after I go on a call so it makes you kind of a bit more conscious, or I guess self-conscious. Okay, so we talked about prospecting and the research phase. What about the actual communication with leads? How can AI powered tools enhance the sales rep’s ability to personalize outreach and to better conduct their outreach… Janet? 

JANET: Yeah, I think this just continues on a lot of the other things that we were saying with really understanding what kind of content the buyer has been engaging with. You want that to feel like a continuation of a conversation. On one hand, people don’t want their privacy invaded but on the other hand they’re also expecting that sellers understand who they are, what their needs are, what they’re looking for. They don’t want to keep having the same, “Hi, how are you doing” conversation over and over again, even if they get passed from a marketing rep, to a sales rep, to an account executive. They want to make sure that the conversation is continuing and people know what their needs are, what they’ve already looked at and making it more of a natural progression through the sales pipeline.

RONI (HOST): Do you think people feel that messages are personalized in some kind of mass manner or can you kind of tiptoe around that and still make a person feel like the outreach is personal? 

JANET: I think because we’ve had some basic personalization for so long, that just being able to insert the person’s name or a person’s title, that some people now are really starting to be able to see that. Like I’ll see things, because I have my name from my LinkedIn profile written in a certain way and so it’ll get personalized from my LinkedIn profile, which may not be like completely grammatically correct or the way it would be if somebody was typing it. So I think some people are starting to be able to identify and tell when it’s kind of that kind of programmatic personalization. I think AI has the potential to maybe help smooth that out again and it’s still walking the fine line between personalization and being like a creepy stalker, right? We don’t want to be creepy stalkers so we do have to continue to walk that line. 

RONI (HOST): Phil, I think you also wanted to talk about AI and outreach? 

PHIL: Yeah absolutely, I mean everything that Janet said really resonates. It’s pretty much what we’ve been seeing, as well. It is a fine line between being a bit stalky and then actually having good outreach. Working with a lot of sales leaders, I’ve kind of gotten to a point where it’s about 80% sort of templated when doing mass outreach, it’s about more generalized, then about 20% personalized. There’s a lot of tools out there I know that take snippets off of a company’s LinkedIn or your personal LinkedIn profile and also other sources. I think also email signatures and stuff like that where for example if you attended a trade show, you now you can kind of personalize the outreach or let a generative AI personalize the outreach, so that it says “Hey, saw you attended this seminar or this trade show”, I think those are pretty nice, they definitely don’t feel very stalky, it’s still relevant within the industry, depending on what you’re selling. There’s a lot of tools that take prospects similar to clients of yours. Everyone has their own ICP, so if you input three or four companies that are very similar between

each other, it can find others that are similar. If you’ve solved the same problem, the same pain point, for all of these three or four customers, AI is going to find more that have the same issue. You can then personalize the outreach to be more towards, “Hey, are you facing these challenges?” Then continue following up with, “We help these companies that are very similar to you overcome those challenges and this is the net positive results that they’ve seen.” I’m pretty much taking that sort of an angle when it comes to personalization with outreach. Generative AI is so prevalent right now for writing emails or messages in general, so it’s quite easy. 

RONI (HOST): That makes total sense. So you don’t need to personalize for each specific person but rather for a specific buyer persona. Typically people would want to speak with you if you can solve their problem, so there’s no need to get super personal, right? It’s more about the business relationship and the business that you’re going to have; it’s not about their college soccer team! Okay, so here’s my favorite question of the panel. Can you share some common misconceptions about AI and sales and how they could be addressed? Rohit? 

ROHIT: I think the biggest misconception everyone thinks in today’s era is that AI will replace salespeople. That’s the biggest misconception I have heard of and I have heard from many people and I believe you guys obviously heard of same, and that’s not true. AI is obviously kind of like an add-on which is going to work and provide value in completing automating repetitive task for the sales people but it is not going to replace the salespeople. At the end AI is obviously here so sales people can focus on their building strong relationships with clients and customers. Then they can close the deals and close the sales. Another misconception is that AI is too complex or expensive for small businesses.There are many different, affordable and user friendly AI tools, I can name a few, like InsideSales and Gon. You guys have obviously worked with Gong too for the last two years now and I think these are the two of the best tools even small businesses can optimize as well. It is important to address these misconceptions and emphasize the supportive role of AI. Showcasing accessibility and affordability is something every small business doesn’t have the big budget for, so they look for

something that is cheap and can be user friendly as well, easy to implement and just plug and play. I think these tools can do wonders for them. 

JANET: You know, it’s a similar thing but I think the biggest concern in AI in general is just the replacing of people. Even when we’re looking from an inbound marketing side of things and generative AI being able to do a lot of the writing and some of those tasks, people think writers will be irrelevant. I don’t think that’s true because with AI now, and even going into the future, is not writing unique new material with actual insights. It’s regurgitating the same stuff based on what information’s been fed to it and just considering the way that it continues to learn off of that content. I think it never really will get to a point where it’s writing unique perspectives. It also isn’t creating strategy. The organization still needs to have their own strategy, their own tone of voice, their own idea of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and then use AI to optimize and be more efficient. I think as people start depending too much on AI it’s going to make things a little bit more challenging for us to cut through the noise and write interesting things that people want to read rather than the same old thing all the time. 

RONI (HOST): Yes, definitely, every new tech that comes along throughout history, the first kind of response is that it’s going to replace whatever is currently working. Then that never happens so the profession kind of changes or shifts, but it does not become extinct. I used to be a graphic designer 20 years ago and then when iStock and all those similar tools, like Shutterstock came in, people would say that they’re not going to be any graphic designers anymore. That’s totally not the case and even today with generative graphic design tools there are still going to be graphic designers, there are still going to be content writers, there are still going to be sales reps. Even if there are all those autonomous chatbots, email writers and assistants, nothing can actually replace the human touch to create unique perspectives. That’s our brain at work and that’s what no machine can do. So I definitely hear you on that point. Cool, so let’s talk about cost effectiveness. Obviously a lot of companies out there are startups, so how can a startup use AI to be more cost effective? Maybe to save on recruiting people, maybe to save on

tech that’s costly, maybe to cut time. What perspectives do you guys have on AI helping cost efficiency? Carlo? 

CARLO: Startups are very sensitive about the cash flow issues and profiting so keeping the team agile and efficient is very important. The most important tools for SDRs or Account Executives that are doing full cycle sales is the coaching part. So if you have one sales rep, you need to invest some time to coach the person how he delivers the call, how he delivers the presentation, so on, and so forth. As a coach or if you’re the founder, you don’t have enough time to actually listen every single call or rewatch every single demo so there are tools that actually help you to coach a salesperson. That’s a huge time savings and if you’re not doing that, you’re not investing your time and efforts into the salesperson, then the salesperson cannot perform at the highest level. When it comes to online communication, like emails or LinkedIn, as I mentioned before, personalization is a very hot topic right now. It’s been floating around for approximately two years and I totally agree with folks that said that do not be too creepy with the personalization. If you are saying, “Hey John, I saw you eating at McDonald’s”, which is totally creepy. The personalization has to be extremely professional. I would say focus on the need to connect to your product that you’re selling and the problem that you want to solve for the prospect. For example, it takes time to write a single email, between 5 and 15 minutes. You can train AI to actually help you to build those emails at scale. That’s extremely important nowadays as a startup, to keep the cost as low as possible and that naturally influences the customer acquisition cost, which is extremely important as well, especially if you are a bootstrapped startup. 

RONI (HOST): I think a good closing question for the discussion would be what advice would you guys give sales leaders who are just starting to explore implementation of AI based tools into their tech stack and that connects with cost effectiveness? Rohit? 

ROHIT: There’s a phase of learning first before implementation there’s learning first comes up because every business needs to know what their ICPs are and what kind of communication they want to use with the customers. Do they want to have AI based

emails, or have the email sequences running or do they want to have the chatbot running 24/7? I will just give a quick six steps as to how we did it for clients in our own agency and how our clients have took the advantage of our service. They need to access their client needs to know what the needs actually are, then pick the right tool. Then there is something known as branding and creativity comes in, designing a chatbot, putting it up and making it live. Then another step, integration with the site so it can pop up in front of the customers and answer all customer questions. Then training the team is something I would say would matter just once at the end because I have seen so many companies that have reduced 80% to 90% of their support staff with one chatbot. They have built the chatbot, installed the chatbot, plugged the chatbot in the entire site, and so on, and it just automated all the processes. I think that’s the one piece of advice I would love to give to all businesses, as soon as you can, automate the processes. That will lower expenses of any small business or any startup. As Carlo already said, bootstrapped startups are really expensive to run, companies running payrolls, running finances, having a bunch of other softwares and paying monthly or yearly bills, as well. So I think running and automating processes is one of the biggest things and then once the chatbot is on, then it’s just the monetization, monitor and optimization. Looking into the stuff and monitoring and then optimizing and improving that stuff, nothing more. 

JANET: Yeah, I mean I think we’ve touched on a bunch of things so to kind of bring it together, with any new technology, it’s the buzzword of the day. Everybody’s talking about AI, everybody is like “we need to implement AI” and it goes back to understanding why? Why are you implementing AI? What is the process that you’re trying to streamline? What does your process look like in your organization because at every organization, the process looks a little bit different. Then looking at the different options that are out there, which ones really match the organization and the goals that you have? It is important to understand how you’re going to measure success, what success looks like, and really making sure that you have those strategic questions answered first. So then you pick the right technology partner to work with. I was working with a client recently, not an AI technology, but another technology that they implemented.

They’ve had it for two months and then all of a sudden they realize that it’s not working for them. I’m just trying to figure out with them what due diligence they didn’t do that only two months into using the technology, they’ve realized that it wasn’t the right one to pick. So really making sure that you have as many answers to those questions as you can before selecting something and implementing something is vital. 

RONI (HOST): Yes, I feel due diligence is a two-way street because as you mentioned, understanding what this tech is supposed to solve, who will use it, and how, is part of the due diligence with the actual seller. I feel sometimes people assume that the product will do something or another thing and then they buy the product and they don’t really check the boxes in advance. Then they realize that it doesn’t integrate to something or that it doesn’t work in the way they want it to, in the region that they’re selling to, or whatever miscommunication that they had with the seller. Then they end up churning and they also have a negative sentiment on that product now. So I think we as sellers also owe it to our products that when we sell to be fully transparent, to do this due diligence as sellers, not only as buyers and as people who are implementing these products, so I totally agree. Phil, I think you wanted a turn to speak about the learning process of implementing new tech? 

PHIL: Yeah, I mean pretty much something similar that I mentioned at the beginning of the call, trying not to implement too many things but to actually learn a couple of tools that will take care of the most important processes. Really learn them thoroughly, become a master of those tools and because it’s AI, as Janet mentioned previously, you need to feed it information in order to do its thing and to find its processes. It has to have a lot of information. 

RONI (HOST): Yes, definitely.I think a lot of interesting topics came up today talking about the buzzword of the year- AI. It’s all around us, a lot of products, a lot of processes, a lot of buzz around it. I think talking about the misconceptions, how to utilize AI if you’re a startup with no budget, I think those are things that will probably be interesting to you know many sellers in the organizations. Usually, a seller is one of the

first people you would hire after the product is ready. I think that AI in sales, like AI in a lot of different professions, can really make our life a lot easier, but when not implemented correctly it can also waste our time and be non-effective. Well, I definitely think we highlighted some of those things to avoid or things to notice so I really appreciate you guys’ perspective, it was a super interesting discussion, in my opinion! Iit would be great if we can close with a quick two or three services your agency offers and then when we kind of spread the word and send the webinar recording, people can reach out to you later on. 

PHIL: Mainly our sales development service which is lead generation, getting more appointments in front of your sales team. The second one is pipeline management. I think every salesperson struggles with follow up, note taking, which there is AI for at this moment. Overall, getting an action plan in your CRM to move deals further, increase win rates and reduce sales cycle times. Lastly I would say any sort of CRM optimization or maintenance service, those are the ones that we focus on. 

JANET: Marketing strategy solutions, we focus on demand generation strategy primarily with inbound marketing and helping target. We work with a lot of organizations that have very niche audiences, so making sure that demand gen and inbound marketing is reaching those niche audiences, as well as the marketing automation optimization to support those marketing campaigns and sales enablement really to pass everything through and make sure marketing dollars are turning into revenue. 

ROHIT: We are basically a full-service marketing agency. We use the subscription model so we sell services starting from $100 a month, up to $5,000+ a month. We have a bunch of clients based out of the US and focusing on the entire Asia Pacific Market right now. At this point, we are obviously running an offer for every small business to sign up. We are giving a free website to every small business if you want to have a look on reach me out on LinkedIn or

CARLO: Our customers are startups that are finding their ways to the GTM strategy. We typically help with B2B appointment setting services so we are doing the work of the entire team of lead resource specialists, SDRs and the project manager. We are organizing appointments so it could be either online meetings or could be offline in the exhibitions conferences or trade shows. Another service we provide is lead list building if you already have your sales team, with no need to outsource, but you are lacking good quality leads. I would say that we provide good quality for a very affordable price. Lastly, we provide CRM enrichment. If you don’t have any problems with appointment setting and you don’t have any problems with the lead list building, but you have some problems with keeping your CRM hygiene, we can help you with that as well. 

RONI (HOST): Thank you so much panelists, super interesting discussion. Thank you to everyone who is here, reading this blog. Please connect with RightBound, myself, all our panelists, and their amazing companies on social media. Take care…