Leaders are optimistic about the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence to revolutionize sales and marketing, according to McKinsey research, yet few companies are harnessing these new technologies. Glean useful insights into how the most successful businesses are engaging customers, driving growth and boosting productivity using tools such as GenAI, and learn how to undertake your own AI transformation journey in just six action steps. Remaining competitive in the future will require changing your engagement models, and harnessing AI to appeal to consumers who “want everything, everywhere, and all the time.”
- Boost personalization, growth and productivity with machine learning and artificial intelligence.
- Winning companies are investing in AI, embracing experimentation and defining AI strategies.
- Implement GenAI in your marketing and sales efforts with six key action steps.
Boost personalization, growth and productivity with machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are pushing boundaries and redefining the roles of sales and marketing. McKinsey research suggests that you could soon automate a fifth of your current sales functions. Over the past decade, AI-focused venture capital investment has risen 13-fold, triggering an “explosion” of data that foundation-model training can leverage. In particular, generative AI (GenAI) has the possibility to revolutionize sales and marketing, as it can create content, ranging from writing to images, at an astonishing speed using training data. Companies that invest in AI are seeing revenue upticks between 3% and 15% and sales growth between 10% and 20%.
“Winning B2B companies go beyond account-based marketing and disproportionately use hyper-personalization in their outreach.”
Emerging AI technologies, such as GenAI, have the potential to impact sales and marketing in three key areas:
- Customer experience (CX) – Creating hyper-individualized offerings and content can enable companies to better engage consumers based on data such as their customer behavior and buyer persona.
- Growth – Harnessing AI to boost performance can accelerate growth, equipping sales teams with the best customer insights and analytics to capture demand.
- Productivity – Teams no longer need to waste time on mundane tasks you can automate, freeing human workers to focus more on better serving customers.
Winning companies are investing in AI, embracing experimentation and defining AI strategies.
Commercial leaders report feelings of optimism about the impact of GenAI on lead identification, marketing optimization (for example, SEO strategies) and personalized outreach. However, despite this optimism, 55% of these leaders reported that their organizations “rarely” use ML or GenAI, while only 15% report that they almost always use them. In the most effective, successful companies, trailblazing leaders have clearly defined their AI strategy and vision and have invested more than 20% of their digital budgets into AI-related technologies.
“This revolutionary approach is transforming the landscape of marketing and sales, driving greater effectiveness and customer engagement from the very start of the customer journey.”
There are several ways in which you can incorporate GenAI into your customer journey, which include: better segmenting and targeting audiences using GenAI’s algorithms, which identify patterns in market and customer data; optimizing marketing strategies via A/B testing using GenAI to automate engagement choices based on consumer patterns; personalizing chatbot support and emails using GenAI; providing workers with real-time guidance and predictive insights to help them better serve customers; and helping with customer retention by automating actions such as welcoming new users/buyers.
Implement GenAI in your marketing and sales efforts with six key action steps.
As you begin your AI transformation journey, taking the following six steps can help:
- Launch a GenAI audit of your commercial activities – Explore ways to implement GenAI into your sales tech and marketing infrastructure, experimenting with low-cost or open-source tech players.
- Form a cross-functional GenAI task force – Consider creating a team with members from marketing, pricing, IT and sales, working together to identify opportunities to test commercial use cases.
- Identify “low-hanging fruit” in your buyer journey – Are there any simple, low-risk, low-cost and high-impact ways can you test GenAI use cases (for example, automating outreach emails)? Do so, while creating risk-limiting guardrails.
- Experiment – Launch two or three GenAI use cases, tracking results and refining your process if you’d like to implement your uses of GenAI more broadly. Focus on targeting a specific portion of your sales funnel.
- Offer training – Train sales team members to test out GenAI and experiment with confidence.
- Establish sales team guidelines – Ensure your sales team handles sensitive customer data with care and doesn’t input it into your GenAI tools. Create standards for verifying externally facing outputs.
About the Author
Richelle Deveau is a McKinsey partner, based in Southern California. Sonia Joseph Griffin is an associate partner with McKinsey, based in Atlanta. Steve Reis is a senior partner with McKinsey, based in Atlanta.