Should my B2B business invest in AI technology?

Artificial intelligence has taken the tech world by storm, generating significant hype and attracting substantial investments. According to research conducted by Writerbuddy, the funding given to AI companies, including hardware, software, platforms, and algorithms, increased from $12.75 to $93.5 billion between 2015 and 2021.

Major players like Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft Azure haven't been left behind either, making substantial investments. But with all this attention, Bain's Technology Report 2022 reveals that only 20% of businesses possess the infrastructure needed to fully harness AI's capabilities.

As AI advances, it promises to reshape the B2B market, particularly in sales and marketing. But the question remains: is AI all hype, or does it offer real value for B2B companies?

In this article, we will explore the key applications, benefits, and challenges associated with AI implementation in B2B marketing and sales, providing insights to help you decide if your business should invest in AI technology.

AI in B2B Sales

Unlocking Growth Potential and Overcoming Challenges

AI has recently emerged as a hot topic in B2B sales, and opinions on its impact and potential are diverse. While AI is undeniably changing the sales landscape, its long-term impact will depend on how effectively businesses can adopt and integrate it into their processes.

Below, we'll explore six essential AI applications for B2B sales, illustrating their impact with personalized examples, promising use cases, and discussing the challenges businesses may face in implementing these technologies.

ai-in-b2b-sales

1. Lead scoring and prioritization

When it comes to B2B sales, the process of identifying high-quality leads can be time-consuming and complex due to the unique requirements and preferences of each potential customer.

AI can help analyze large volumes of data to prioritize leads based on their likelihood to convert, saving time and resources.

However, a challenge in this area lies is integrating multiple data sources and ensuring data quality. The datasets involved typically include demographic information, online behavior, engagement history, and other attributes that indicate a lead's likelihood to make a purchase.

B2B organizations often have data spread across multiple systems, such as CRMs, marketing automation platforms, and social media channels.

In order to effectively leverage AI for lead scoring and prioritization, it's crucial to ensure that data from all these sources is clean, accurate, and up-to-date. This way you will create a comprehensive profile for each lead and determine their priority in the sales pipeline.

Use case:

Consider this scenario when your sales team has access to AIssistify's Contact Insights, which leverages LinkedIn data, and real-time Company Profiles integrated into HubSpot CRM.

With the AI-powered tool, they get an effective solution to accessing enriched data about their prospects and their ongoing business activities. This allows for a tailored approach to each potential client, ultimately saving time and improving the overall success of their prioritization efforts.

2. Sales forecasting and analytics

The objective here is to predict overall sales performance for a specific period, considering historical sales data, market trends, and external factors. The datasets used for sales forecasting are often broader in scope and encompass not only lead-specific data but also information about the industry, economic conditions, competitive landscape, and other factors that may impact the company's sales performance.

The challenge is to process and analyze large amounts of diverse data to identify patterns, correlations, and trends that can help predict future sales and inform strategic decision-making.

Use case:

Imagine your B2B sales organization employing AI-driven sales forecasting to gain a competitive advantage. By leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning, your company could forecast sales more accurately, identifying patterns and trends that might be missed by human analysts, such as subtle shifts in customer behavior, seasonality fluctuations, or the impact of niche marketing campaigns. This valuable insight allows your organization to make better-informed decisions regarding resource allocation and strategic investments.

3. Dynamic pricing and deal optimization

AI can help B2B sales teams determine optimal pricing and deal structures based on customer preferences and market trends.

However, the challenge here lies in continuously adapting the pricing strategies to meet unique customer requirements and the ever-changing competitive landscape. It is crucial to maintain a balance between driving revenue growth and upholding transparent, consistent pricing practices that foster trust with your clients.

Regularly refining and updating the AI models to adapt to market changes and new competitive strategies is essential to ensure your pricing and deal optimization remains effective in a dynamic B2B sales environment.

Use case:

A global industrial equipment supplier implemented AI-driven dynamic pricing to analyze customer preferences, historical sales data, and market trends, allowing them to create tailored pricing strategies and deal structures for each of their clients.

Considering factors such as customer segments, market conditions, and competitor moves, the supplier was able to offer customized deals that resonated with their clients, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and increased profitability. 

4. CRM data enrichment and analysis

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date CRM data is essential for effective B2B sales efforts. AI can automate data enrichment processes, identify inconsistencies, and provide insights for sales teams. 

A major challenge in implementing AI for CRM data enrichment and analysis is maintaining data privacy and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. The collection, storage, and processing of customer data must adhere to strict privacy standards such as GDPR, CCPA, and other regional data protection regulations.

Use case:

A mid-sized IT services provider decided to adopt AIssistify's Company and Contact Insights to streamline their CRM data enrichment and analysis process.

AIssistify's solutions seamlessly integrated with the IT services provider's existing HubSpot CRM, offering real-time data enrichment and analysis while maintaining a secure data environment. The Company and Contact Insights features automatically updated contact information, identified data inconsistencies, and uncovered trends and patterns within the CRM data. This allowed the IT services provider target their sales efforts more effectively and build stronger relationships with their clients.

5. Sales automation and prospecting

AI can streamline B2B sales processes by automating repetitive tasks, such as prospecting and data entry.

The challenge in this application is about AI solutions that effectively complement human sales activities without replacing the valuable human touch. Sales teams need to strike a balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and maintaining personalized, relationship-driven interactions with prospects and clients. This requires ongoing collaboration between sales professionals and AI developers to ensure the technology is tailored to support the unique needs and goals of the sales team.

Use case:

A global software company implemented an AI-powered prospecting tool that automated the process of finding and qualifying leads. The tool scanned various data sources, identified potential leads based on predefined criteria, and enriched lead profiles with relevant information. This allowed the sales team to focus on nurturing relationships and closing deals, rather than spending valuable time on manual prospecting.

6. Conversational AI and chatbots for sales support

Conversational AI and chatbots can enhance B2B sales providing personalized, real-time support to prospects and customers. 

The challenge in this application lies in creating chatbots that can effectively handle the complex and diverse nature of B2B inquiries. B2B sales often involve detailed discussions about product specifications, custom solutions, and intricate pricing structures, which can be difficult for AI-driven chatbots to navigate. To overcome this, companies need to invest in ongoing development and refinement of their chatbot algorithms, ensuring they are capable of understanding and addressing the specific needs of B2B customers while maintaining a seamless and engaging user experience.

Use case:

A B2B manufacturing company implemented a chatbot on its website to assist visitors with product inquiries, pricing information, and technical support. By leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms, the chatbot was able to understand and respond to a wide range of questions, delivering prompt and accurate information to potential clients. As a result, the sales team experienced an increase in lead generation and conversions. Learn more about AI-powered Chatflows

AI in B2B Marketing

What sets AI apart in the B2B marketing landscape is its ability to handle the complex, data-driven nature of B2B interactions, which often involve multiple stakeholders and longer sales cycles.

By leveraging AI, B2B marketers can more effectively analyze large volumes of data, identify patterns, and adapt their strategies to address the specific needs and preferences of their target audience.

Let's talk about 6 AI application in B2B marketing:

ai-in-b2b-marketing

1. Content personalization and optimization

AI can analyze users' behavior and preferences to deliver personalized content experiences, improving engagement and conversion rates.

Unlike sales applications that focus on prospecting and closing deals, this application focuses on creating and optimizing content for target audiences.

The challenge here is balancing personalization with user privacy and ensuring that content remains relevant and engaging.

2. Marketing automation and campaign management

AI-driven marketing automation tools help B2B marketers streamline their campaign management processes, such as audience segmentation, email marketing, and lead nurturing.

One of the key challenges involves seamlessly incorporating AI tools into the current marketing technology infrastructure and making sure they work efficiently across different marketing channels.

In contrast to sales applications, which primarily emphasize optimizing prices and offers, this application is dedicated to executing and managing marketing campaigns.

3. Predictive analytics and customer insights

Using advanced machine learning techniques and vast amounts of data, AI is capable of identifying customer behavior patterns and trends. This empowers B2B marketers with valuable insights, allowing them to make more informed decisions on their campaigns and overall strategies.

Whereas sales applications emphasize forecasting and analytics for sales performance, this application centers on understanding customer behavior and preferences.

The key challenge lies in making sure that these insights can be practically applied and seamlessly integrated into marketing efforts.

4. Social media monitoring and sentiment analysis

AI can monitor social media platforms and analyze user sentiment, providing valuable insights into customer preferences and potential opportunities for engagement.

The application of AI in B2B marketing deals with monitoring and analyzing social media activity, unlike sales applications that focus on CRM data enrichment and analysis.

The main obstacle lies in handling the enormous volumes of data produced by social media platforms while guaranteeing that the insights offered are both accurate and relevant.

5. Customer journey mapping and optimization

AI can help B2B marketers understand and optimize the customer journey by identifying bottlenecks, pain points, and areas for improvement.

This application differs from sales applications like lead scoring and prioritization, as it concentrates on the entire customer journey rather than just the sales process.

The challenge is integrating these insights into marketing strategies and ensuring a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints.

6. Natural language generation and content creation

AI-powered natural language generation tools can assist B2B marketers in creating engaging content, such as blog posts, social media updates, and email newsletters, at scale.

In contrast to sales applications that utilize conversational AI and chatbots for sales support, this application focuses on generating content for marketing purposes.

One of the key challenges lies in preserving the quality and authenticity of AI-generated content, making sure it truly connects with the target audience.

Strategies for Successful AI Implementation

Effectively integrating AI into B2B marketing and sales demands a thorough, carefully crafted plan. To fully harness the advantages of AI and seamlessly incorporate it into their operations, businesses must adopt a strategic approach, which includes several essential principles:

1. Invest in data quality and accessibility

Investing in data quality and accessibility is a crucial aspect of successful AI implementation in B2B marketing and sales. Businesses must focus on robust data governance, which involves collecting, cleaning, and storing data in compliance with industry regulations and ensuring it is readily available for AI algorithms. Some key points to consider include:

a) The importance of accurate and well-structured data for AI-driven processes.

b) Compliance with industry regulations to maintain data privacy and security.

c) Efficient data storage and accessibility to facilitate seamless AI integration.

2. Align AI with marketing and sales objectives and identify clear use cases

Aligning AI with marketing and sales objectives promotes teamwork and allows for a more efficient use of resources, leading to a better return on investment.

Some key point to consider include:

a) Setting clear and quantifiable objectives for AI-driven projects.

b) Choosing AI applications that directly address the company's objectives and challenges.

c) Regularly assessing and refining AI deployment to ensure it stays in sync with the company's aims.

3. Develop in-house talent or partner with external AI vendors

Each approach to develop AI expertise internally or collaborate with external AI vendors has its advantages, and the decision depends on the company's resources, current abilities, and strategic vision. 

When choosing the best AI approach for implementation, B2B organizations must carefully consider these crucial factors:

  • Financial and human resources
  • Company's current technical expertise and capacity to develop AI solutions
  • Strategic goals and future plans
  • The desired pace of AI solution deployment
  • Customization and control

Сollaborating with a trusted partner like Resonate, B2B businesses can tap into the potential of AI to boost sales and marketing strategies.

Some of the key reasons why Resonate can be a helpful partner for your business include:

  1. Extensive experience: With 12 years in the industry, Resonate has a deep understanding of the B2B landscape and the specific challenges faced by B2B organizations in implementing AI solutions. This enables us to offer solutions that are better aligned with your business needs and objectives.

  2. Exceptional customer support: Resonate offers 24/7 customer support, ensuring that your team has access to assistance and guidance whenever needed.

  3. Customization and scalability: Resonate's AI solutions, including AIssistify, can be tailored to your specific requirements and can easily scale with your business as it grows, ensuring that your investment in AI technology remains relevant and effective over time.

  4. Free pre-purchase consultation: To help you make an informed decision, Resonate offers a free pre-purchase consultation where you can discuss your needs, goals, and expectations, ensuring a strong alignment between your organization and Resonate's AI solutions.

Book a Free Consultation

4. Leverage automated machine learning and 'try before you buy' SaaS-based solutions

As recommended in the Harvard Business Review article "How to Design an AI Marketing Strategy" by Venkatesan and Lecinski, businesses can consider utilizing AutoML and SaaS-based AI solutions in their AI implementation strategy. 

Imagine your B2B company is considering implementing AI in its marketing and sales processes. By opting for AutoML and SaaS-based AI solutions, your organization could experience several key benefits:

  1. Flexibility: The 'try before you buy' approach in SaaS models permits businesses to test various AI applications without a substantial initial commitment. This way, companies can discover the most fitting solutions for their requirements before fully incorporating them into their marketing and sales strategies.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: Operating on a subscription basis, the 'try before you buy' SaaS models significantly reduce the upfront investment needed for AI implementation. This approach enables organizations to explore AI options without bearing considerable expenses, diminishing the financial risks linked with AI adoption.
  3. Continuous improvement: SaaS-based AI providers frequently offer ongoing assistance and platform updates, ensuring that AI applications stay relevant, efficient, and in tune with the latest technological breakthroughs.

Case studies

Case 1: B2B Tech Company

Background:

Imagine you're a technology company looking to optimize your LinkedIn advertising campaigns to enhance lead generation. You decide to leverage AI-powered audience targeting to achieve these goals.

Approach:

Your company uses an AI-driven platform to analyze user behavior and preferences on LinkedIn, allowing you to create more targeted advertising campaigns that resonate with your ideal customer profiles. By using AI-generated insights, you can make more informed decisions about ad placements, content, and targeting strategies.

Results:

As a result of implementing AI-powered audience targeting, your company experiences a significant reduction in cost per lead and a notable increase in conversion rates. This leads to improved overall campaign performance and a higher return on investment.

Case 2: B2B Custom Manufacturing Company

Background:

Imagine you're a custom manufacturing company specializing in providing tailored solutions to clients across various industries. Your sales team is struggling to effectively identify and engage high-potential leads due to the time-consuming nature of prospect research and the complex needs of your B2B clients.

Solution:

To streamline your sales prospecting process, you could consider leveraging the power of AIssistify. It can offer you valuable insights into your target audience, helping you identify the most relevant prospects based on their preferences, values, and behaviors.

AIssistify's Contact and Company Insights, integrated into your HubSpot CRM, can provide your sales team with enriched data about potential clients and their current business activities. This information allows your team to personalize their approach for each prospect, making their outreach efforts more targeted and effective.

Results:

You might experience shorter sales cycles, increased conversion rates, and higher-quality leads for your sales team to pursue. Ultimately, these AI-driven tools can help your company build stronger relationships with B2B clients and boost revenue growth.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the successful implementation of AI in B2B sales and marketing holds significant potential for driving revenue growth, streamlining processes, and delivering exceptional value to customers.

To achieve this, companies need to invest in data quality, align AI initiatives with their marketing and sales objectives, and choose the best approach for AI development, whether in-house or through external partners.

The case studies presented demonstrate the real-world impact AI can have on B2B organizations when applied strategically. By leveraging AI-driven tools such as AIssistify, companies can uncover valuable insights into their target audiences, personalize their content, and optimize their outreach efforts.

In today's ever-changing business environment, it's crucial for B2B organizations to stay on their toes, adopting the latest technologies and putting their customers first. By taking advantage of AI, they can successfully navigate the intricate world of B2B sales and marketing, building stronger connections with clients and targeting long-term growth.

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