CEOs Ultimate Guide to Scaling Results with AI-Powered SuperTeams

Chief executives of small and medium sized businesses are often faced with the problem of not having enough time or talent to take their business to the next level. One way that CEOs can work around this is by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and augmenting their teams with AI-powered employees. This may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s actually very possible for any company, no matter how big or small they are in size.

There is a misconception that AI can only be used by very large companies. However, this is not true! AI technologies are now available as “a service” which means it’s more affordable and accessible than ever before. What does this mean for the small to medium sized company? It means there is no excuse not to implement AI into their business.

AI is Now Affordable for SMBs (Small and Medium Sized Businesses)

Many CEOs think that AI is only for large corporations. That is no longer the case. Small business owners need to understand that the technology has come a long way and they are now able to implement AI into their company without breaking the bank.

An explosion of vendors will deliver what you need cheaper, faster and better that you ever could on your own. This is known as AI as a Service (AIaaS)

AIaaS is the delivery of artificial intelligence services through the cloud. Your business (along with many others) run software over an internet browser, using their own business data.

This means that SMBs can access AI services without having to increase their headcount, or add to their overhead. There is no need to invest in the training of your own developers. You don’t need to be responsible for owning all the components of your of your IT stack.

Instead, you get all the benefits of the access to the AI through a third party vendor.

Getting access to AI as a service is similar to getting access to email thorugh a provider like Google’s Gmail or Microsoft. Today no SMB would ever think of building their own email system, and in the future they will probably have the same view when it comes to accessing AI as well.

The best part is that AI technologies are becoming more and more affordable and accessible every day. So there’s no reason why your business shouldn’t be using them!

Benefits of AI as a Service for SMBs

There are many different AI as a service providers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to do your research before selecting a provider, because not all of them are created equal. The right provider can help your business harness the power of machine learning and improve its competitiveness.

In general, these are the main benefits of working with an AIaaS vendor.

  • Cost. Most AIaaS involve a pay-as-you go subscription model. This means companies only pay for the services they use without the upfront costs of hiring staff, or building their own infrastructure. This means that for a fraction of the cost of building something on their own, SMBs can compete with much larger companies with the exact same AI service. In the event that you become dissatisfied with the AIaaS, you can simply end the contract, and switch to another vendor. No need to worry about all your sunk costs in a system you no longer want.
  • Simplicity. In most cases there is not a need for advanced technical skills to access the AI. Sometimes there is only a single line of code that your IT team needs to work with in order to access the AI service.
  • Speed. Rather than spending months or even years building your own AI models, with AIaaS, SMBs can be using the AI in a matter of days or weeks.
  • Always improving. As the AI vendor responds to the needs of other customers the level of service they provide improves year or year without you have to do anything. Simply benefit from the feedback, and the data, of other customers.
  • Scalability. As you business grows, and you need additional AI services, you can easily increase what you need without having to worry about additional infrastructure. Your AI service can seamlessly grow as your revenue or products grow.

How to Build an AI-Powered Superteam

In order to operate a business there are many jobs to be done. No matter the company we think of work falling into three buckets: dealing with customers, your operations, and your back office.

Traditionally, a company looks for a person to fill all of the jobs in each of these buckets. The challenge has always been to find the best person possible, and keep that person as long as possible.

But now CEOs can think about this challenge differently.

Instead of looking for a single person to do a single job (like sales rep, or human resources) they should think about a job being divided up into multiple tasks.

For example, one person in human resources could be responsible for sending out interview invitations, monitoring the onboarding process of new employees, and answering salary questions of existing employees.

A single job is made up these discrete tasks, like a stack of Lego blocks.

In many cases, an AI can do some of these tasks better, faster and cheaper than a human. These tasks include processing large amounts of data, carrying out repetitive tasks, and pattern pattern recognition. As AI technology continues to develop, the list of tasks AI can perform better than a person will only continue to grow.

Of course there are areas where humans are far superior to AI. As people, we can better understand the meaning of complex documents, we understand human emotions and communicate accordingly, and we adapt our behavior based on feedback from others.

The question CEOs should be thinking about when looking to scale their business is what should humans be doing and what should AI be doing? Or, to put it differently, what is the best mix of human and AI skills?

In the sections below we outline what jobs that AI is already doing, allowing you to find the best fit for your environment.

But First…Will My Customers and Employees Like the AI?

Before jumping into the technical question about dividing up work between people and AI, there are two concern that many CEOs have.

First, they do not want to damage the relationship with their customers. Having worked so hard to build up a relationship, CEOs do not want to create bad experiences that drive customers away.

Second, they ask themselves if their employees will resent the AI. Many CEOs are afraid that their people will think of it as a sign that they are not needed any more. CEOs don’t want to create an atmosphere where people lose motivation and leave the company in droves. There is also the temptation for companies to introduce AI simply as a cost-cutting exercise, where employees are required to train their AI “replacements.”

These are real concerns. By paying attention to them before making any investment in AI companies can find solutions that customers and employees prefer.

Particularly when it comes to employees, their initial skepticism about AI can turn to enthusiastic support when they realize that the AI does many of the jobs they don’t like doing, freeing them up to do more of what they do like.

Case Studies – How Companies Are Scaling Results with AI-Powered Teams Across their Organization

Now is the time to give real examples of how SMBs are combining people + AI to scale their results. Artificial intelligence is a new and rapidly growing field, so sharing real-life examples will help you gain insight into how you can apply this powerful technology in their own businesses.

Business is primarily about being good at solving a problem for a customer. If there is no customer, there is no business. Therefore it is critical to ensure that customers have a positive experience in dealing with your company.

Fortunately, AI can help SMBs deliver a great customer experience while keeping costs down.

Chatbots

Chatbots are computer programs that can mimic human conversation. They are commonly used in customer service to help customers with simple tasks, like finding information on a product, and can also be used in marketing to provide personalized content and recommendations to customers. For example, a chatbot might recommend products based on past purchases or suggest new products based on customer preferences.

Most chatbots are dumb. They work off of a script. If the customer asks a question that is not in the script, the chatbot does not know what to do. The customer has a bad experience and they might leave without buying anything.

With AI, chatbots are becoming more and more intelligent, or at least better at understanding what humans mean.

The Inbenta chatbot (which sometimes goes by the name Veronica) is an an example of conversational AI. It can understand what people are saying, as well as what they’re not saying. Inbenta’s bot sees past typos and misspellings, analyzes questions to understand the context, and gets at the meaning behind the words – no matter the slang or jargon. Of course, it can do all of this is more than 30 languages.

What makes the chatbot so smart? It is because the chatbot uses Natural Language Processing, and it is pre-trained already knowing Inbenta’s proprietary lexicon (which is hundreds of thousands of semantic relationships). What’s more is that the chatbot is always learning, increasing its intelligence with every interaction.

Megan McCluskey of Schlage says “Our customers can now get the information they want in real time based on what they mean, not by what they type.”

With a chatbot that “speaks human” companies can reduce service and support enquires by 80%, grow search-to-cart revenue with better, quicker search answers, and higher NPS scores due to 85% increase in engagement rates.

Other chatbot vendors include Heyday, Intercom, and IBM’s Virtual Assistant.

Customer Feedback

One of the most common ways to stay in touch with customers is to ask for and review their feedback. Feedback can come across a number of channels such as customer surveys, product reviews, tickets from your help desk, calls to your contact center, or be with third parties like Survey Monkey and Zendeck.

That is a lot of data, and making sense of it can take hours.

Keatext removes the tedious work of analyzing all that feedback, and quickly helps you find what needs attention to improve your customer experience. It offers an AI driven text analytics platform that reads and summarizes all of this data.

The Keatext AI can group comments, give opinion and sentiment analysis, spot trends, and express all these points with data visualization. This can remove 98% of the time needed for analyzing feedback.

Alisha Manion, the Account Manager at Sampler says, “Instead of 8 hours to parse the data in 6000 reviews, it takes me 10 minutes with Keatext.”

Your team will welcome this AI. It frees them up from the most tiring part of their job, and allows them to concentrate on the more creative aspects. They can focus on building campaigns that resonate with your audience.

A Basic Package is available from Keatext from $500/month, and a Pro Package is available for $900/month.

Market Research

CEOs ask themselves many questions about marketing. What do customers want from my brand? Where can I reach the right target market? Which messages will motivate action.

The traditional approach to answer these questions is to rely on customer surveys and focus groups. However, this requires a dedicated team. Also, any information that you gather from this approach is limited by response bias, which causes people to provide answers that are not always a true indicator of their future actions.

Imagine that you had an AI on your marketing team, named Polly, who could instead answer all of these pressing questions for you.

Advanced Symbolics uses a proprietary artificial intelligence, Polly, to give you a superhuman understanding of the people your brand depends on. As they say, Polly doesn’t read minds, she reads between the lines.

Polly uses a patented technology to identify a randomized, controlled sample of a representative target audience. Polly then studies each group online, learning about their thoughts and motivations to more accurately forecast their future consumer behavior.

Polly learns more and more about your customers over time, providing you with an ever-deeper understanding of their likes, dislikes, hopes, and concerns. Her insights are available to you as a living survey in near real-time, keeping you informed in a way that traditional surveys, polls, and focus groups can’t.

Polly can also look back in time, conducting longitudinal studies that give you a more complete understanding of the past, present, and future of your brand.

All of this makes Polly a superhuman member of your marketing team.

She gathers authentic insights from your target audiences to inform your campaign strategy and execution, without the risk of premature exposure.

She can identify where your ads are missing the mark, and when they will exhaust audience attention with overexposure.

Before you enter a new market, or promote your products and services to a new one, Polly can accurately forecast how profitable and successful you will be. She can also flag potential increases or decreases in demand, and compare current and projected sales against past success.

Going forward, if you have a marketing research question, your first step could be to begin by asking it to Polly.

Copy Writing

Once you have a marketing direction in mind, you are going to need marketing copy for a website, blog, social media posts, online ad, and more.

That is a lot of content, and keeping it fresh and interesting to your customers is not easy. Every writer eventually faces writer’s block.

Jarvis is the name of an AI that is trained to generate original, creative content. A person provides direction to Jarvis on what to write and simply with the push of a button, Jarvis suggests content in seconds.

The more background information information and specific direction you give to Jarvis, the higher the quality of the output. You can ask for content to be written in a certain tone, such as professional, witty or informative. You can even ask for it to be written in the style of a particular person, like well-known author, or podcaster in your field.

With this human + AI collaboration, you can finish your work 2-5X faster, as Jarvis writes 80% and humans editing the last 20%.

Because Jarvis is based on input from leading experts in Direct Response Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, the content you generate can lead to higher conversions.

Allison Waddell at Lluma says with Jarvis “Writing block is extinct. When I first hear about an AI writing marketing copy I thought that it would never sound natural but WOW Jarvis nails it. It’s really mind-blowingly shocking how well it works.”

While Jarvis is available for as little as $29/month, we strongly recommend upgrading to Boss Mode for extra features at $59/month. We now regularly use Jarvis, including in the writing of this Ultimate Guide.

There are other options in the copywriting space, including CopyPro and MarketMuse.

Email Marketing

Once you know your target market, you will want to connect with as many customers in that market as possible.

However, salesforce research shows traditional databases go bad by over 70% every year. To fill these gaps, marketers spend hours scouring websites looking for contact information. That is not a job anyone enjoys doing. With Seamless their A.I. engine researches and verifies emails and direct dials in real-time.

With this verified data, it is easier for you to build your pipeline, shorten your sales cycle and close more deals.

E-Commerce companies that run email campaigns should consider ReSci, which works from businesses of every size, from startups to global billion-dollar companies. Their mission is to make artificial intelligence accessible and usable for every business so that they can deliver authentic, relevant messages to their customers at the right time, every time.

Unlike other providers that make you set up flows and leave results to chance, Retention Science removes all the guesswork using data science to automatically send the right message to the right person at the right time, boosting engagement and saving you time. Each machine-driven decision is statistically personalized to each user based on the profiles their models have compiled, reaching out only at the exact moment when they are most likely to convert, with content and recommendations that are most relevant to them, while utilizing the lowest possible incentive. No person would be able to process such vast quantities of data.

According to Nicole Bruderer, Founder of retailer Lime Ricki, “The automation is beginning to run itself and is doing the thinking for us. This will give us more time to strategize and explore other features and options while maximizing our email efforts. This is allowing us to do more without hiring an additional member of our marketing team.”

Very large SMBs, with high needs in marketing should also consider Persado. Their motto is to help data-driven enterprises find new sources of value by “getting every word right, every time.” The result is true personalization at scale and bankable ROI.

One Fortune 50 Bank drove $100M in incremental revenue by using Persado across digital and traditional channels to increase customer acquisition rates, retention, and high-value customer loyalty. In one example, Persado drove 23% more credit card applications, 78% higher engagement with content, and $3.6M incremental annual revenue from a single email campaign.

What sort of changes drove this incremental revenue. They were as simple as changing the email subject line from “OUR WAY OF SAYING THANKS” to “OUR OFFER FOR YOU” and the call to action from “See Application” to “Apply Now.”

These seemingly minor changes made an enormous difference to the Bank, and there is no way it would be possible for a marketing professional to know in advance which version would be more effective. But with its sophisticated A/B testing capabilities, the Persado AI is able to make precisely these kinds of data-based decisions.

Sales Development Representative

Today, people want an experience that isn’t just frictionless, but enjoyable. To keep up with skyrocketing expectations, you need to remove friction and give customers what they want at the exact moment they want it.

With a stretched Sales Development Representative (SDR) team, it is hard to meet these expectations. There are just too many customers to serve.

That’s where conversational sales comes in. Conversational sales creates instant and personalized engagement with customers and buyers. It accelerates business revenue by removing friction from the customer experience.

For example, Conversica’s AI Assistants Rachel engages a visitor to your site as soon as the person arrives. She provides prompt, personalized, and persistent engagement in order to connect website visitors to the information they need instantly.

Bryan O’Dell at IHS Markit says “we’ve been able to touch nearly every inquiry that comes into the business. And that’s uncovering incremental, high quality leads to support the Sales team. We are making rapid and thought first contact, and we are doing it at scale.”

One thing that is different about Rachel is that she can connect with a customer not just in the moment, but through the entire customer journey. Speaking from personal experience, when Rachel sent me an email, I thought she was just a member of the Sales team. She qualified my interest and made it easy to book a follow-up meeting for a demo. It was only later that I realized Rachel was an AI bot that was passing off leads like me to her human colleagues.

Companies find that Rachel can become one of the best SDRs on the team, adding thousands of hours of productivity and saving $100ks. She finds more sales ready leads, helps build a healthier pipeline to hit your revenue targets.

She can conduct personal outreach against unresponsive leads after Sales reps give up, and convert those leads to meetings up to 25% of the time.

Sales teams love working with Rachel because she automates the mundane task of lead outreach. This type of repetitive task is precisely what AIs are better at than humans. It may take 10-12 outreach attempts to qualify a person, and most people are not organized and persistent enough to do that. That’s why companies find that Rachel is able to do the outreach work of 10 human SDRs, which means you can add capacity to your Sales team without adding additional salary.

One of the other digital SDR vendors is Drift.

Sales Forecasting (CROs, VP Sales, CFOs)

Having increased your pipeline, the organization faces more strategic questions about where to focus its efforts.

There is so much data in your CRM that is daunting to know where to begin. Which are the best opportunities, and why? It is impossible for a person or a team of people to make sense of all this information.

SalesChoice appears right inside of your SalesForce CRM. Their AI examines and learns from every data point in your CRM. The AI creates a predictive model that why opportunities win or lose. It organizes all your sales opportunities in a clearly graded A-B-C system with up to a 95% accuracy. With this information you can close the As, follow SalesChoice guidance to increase the odds on the Bs, and tend to the Cs last.

This means your reps will focus on the deals with the best odds of closing, and identify the ones that may be a waste of effort.

Coaching insights help managers and sales reps increase their odds of achieving sales targets.

There are even pricing insights that show the range you can negotiate within to increase your odds of winning.

SalesChoice says their AI “is not a crystal ball, but it’s pretty close.” Gerry Verner, VP Sales and Marketing at Innovatia says, “After a year we have learned the AI model is getting smarter and our business is also growing. We exceeded our sales objective, finishing at 107% of target in the last 12 months, and SalesChoice is one of our powerful new tools enabling guided selling. Our entire sales team is now using SalesChoice and I am able to manage my sales forecast with increased visibility and risk practices.”

Conclusion

There are three lessons that CEOs of SMBs that want to scale their results should take away from this analysis.

First, traditionally, when work needed to be done, the challenge has always been to find the best person possible, and keep that person as long as possible. But now CEOs can think about this challenge differently. Instead of looking for a single person to do a single job (like sales rep, or human resources) they should think about a job being divided up into multiple tasks, like a stack of Lego blocks.

Second, in many cases, an AI can do some of these tasks better, faster and cheaper than a human. These tasks include processing large amounts of data, carrying out repetitive tasks, and pattern pattern recognition. As AI technology continues to develop, the list of tasks AI can perform better than a person will only continue to grow.

The trick is to build AI-Powered Superteams that bring together the best of people and the best of AI.

Third, it is not only big companies that have access to Artificial Intelligence. AI technologies are now available as “a service” which means it’s more affordable and accessible than ever before. An explosion of vendors will deliver what you need cheaper, faster and better that you ever could on your own. In the end, it means there is no excuse not to implement AI into their business.

With this Ultimate Guide, we hope you are able to implement AI in your business. But if you want assistance, you can book a free consultation with AI Guides.

AIGuides was founded on the realization that companies fail in using AI because they’ve been matched to the wrong solutions. We provide vendor-agnostic guidance to the right solutions for your environment so you can tap into the power and potential of AI. 

Chief executives of small and medium sized businesses are often faced with the problem of not having enough time or talent to take their business to the next level. One way that CEOs can work around this is by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and augmenting their teams with AI-powered employees. This may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s actually very possible for any company, no matter how big or small they are in size.

There is a misconception that AI can only be used by very large companies. However, this is not true! AI technologies are now available as “a service” which means it’s more affordable and accessible than ever before. What does this mean for the small to medium sized company? It means there is no excuse not to implement AI into their business.

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John Stroud

John Stroud

John is a certified OpenExO consultant in exponential technologies. Prior to launching AI Guides, John served as Vice President, Strategy at a federal crown corporation ($600M budget and 8000+ workforce) with responsibilities for Governance, Human Resources, Communications, Legal, Performance Measurement and Risk.

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