For those trying to introduce AI projects internally, generating buy-in requires more than facts and figures or trusting that the AI mystique will sell itself. As with any software sale, there will be an objection handling effort. It’s likely no one in your company has had to navigate this with an AI implementation yet, so you’ll find little internal advice. To help, here’s a brief look at three objections you’ll face. Included are insights on how to overcome each.
#1 - This project isn’t on IT’s roadmap
Actually answering this question isn’t a priority. What matters is debunking the myth behind the question. Leaders hear AI and think “complex.” The knee-jerk response is based on a belief that the technology will require extensive support – and these leaders are well aware of the pain of getting on IT’s calendar.
Don’t let this derail a conversation. Leaders are accustomed to swiping their corporate cards for dozens of SaaS tools, this shouldn’t be much different.
The best modern AI is SaaS driven, easy to launch and simple to activate. Internal champions don’t need to fight IT to get in a project queue, or ask for headcount resources to dedicate days and hours to the deal initially and for ongoing support. Think: 5 to 10 minutes a day of basic workflow maintenance and easy installation on top of existing systems. These tools are more plug-and-play than realized. Any asks should be around “access”, not implementation. And they’ll extend no further than, “Can you sign in and link this tool to Salesforce?”, to your Salesforce admin, as an example.
#2 - This costs too much
One B2B sales training site reminds: “There’s never been once where there wasn’t enough budget to address the pain we had, or for a customer to buy something to address a pain that was immediate and urgent.”
There’s probably no preexisting line item for “AI”. Internal champions will need to creatively unlock budget and this starts with two keys -
- Reinforcing value and the cost of not making a change
- Establishing the value proposition across multiple teams
Before price is ever discussed make sure you have clearly communicated the value that the AI can deliver. Likely, this will require a team effort between yourself and the vendor account rep. For customer support teams, consider crafting a table that lays out call volume, agent counts, resolution time, wages, training/on-boarding times and other key performance indicators. There should be an obvious ROI story that compels the value discussion and shows that returns are too great to ignore. Depending on the systems and tools being currently used, there’s probably an opportunity to replace a legacy, underperforming tool and spend no more on a net basis.
Perhaps, even with a great value story, there isn’t budget today. Then broaden the story to demonstrate how the application of AI brings value to other teams too. If a tool drives greater efficiency per rep, then this lowers hiring, on-boarding and training demands. The HR department is a beneficiary of this and could take on some of the spend.
#3 - We don’t know where to start.
Non-technical leaders can be paralyzed by all the supposed uses of AI. There’s a vendor peddling some sort of AI-like tool for every customer support process. Understanding where to get the most bang for the buck is hard.
At Talla, we use the PAC Framework to help leaders identify opportunity areas. PAC stands for Predict, Automate and Classify. Essentially, it’s a matrix to map key areas of your business. Leaders can draw up the table and then brainstorm ideas within each that could be better predicted, automated or classified. Then, they go through the chart and pick the items that they think would have the greatest ROI or solve an internal pain-point.
Internal champions could actually do this exercise in advance and cherry-pick 2-3 items they believe worthwhile to tackle with AI. From there, they could vet an initial list of vendors and approach the internal leader with the quick-pitch value story for each. This beats back organizational inertia and let’s a leader join where momentum is already underway.
AI champions don’t land projects by listing of features and throwing out a reasonable price. They do it by understanding the metrics that matter for their leaders and building the AI case to show how it’s both viable and essential. Then, when AI is seen as a source of competitive value, the “yesses” come.
Eventually, someone will be seen as the pioneer that pushed the AI agenda. Why not you? To help you get the ball rolling, we created this guide on how to sell AI internally and make a career-changing difference.