The two letters, AI, have a way of sparking either fear or excitement in the tech world.
Many people are ecstatic about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, but others fear it’s going to surpass human intelligence, rendering us virtually useless. Olin Hyde, CEO and founder of Leadcrunch, is firmly in the former camp. I sat down with Hyde to talk about how AI is going to change lead generation. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.
#1 AI Will Not Surpass Emotional Intelligence
According to Hyde, AI will not surpass human intelligence, and it will certainly not surpass emotional intelligence. The reason it will not surpass human intelligence is because that idea relies on the notion that we have general intelligence. He explained: “General intelligence relies on the idea that you can generally represent all of reality, explain the past and predict the future. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who can do that.”
The reason Hyde knows this is because he knows AI much better than most of the people working in the industry. The technology underlying Leadcrunch was originally designed to pass the U.S. medical exam. It was a technical success, but a market failure. Picking up from what they had, Hyde and team eventually won a contract with military contractor Lockheed Martin.
“We knew we had very powerful technology that could verify targets for the military and wanted to find a place to use it where it could really benefit everyday people,” Hyde said. “We tried six or seven MVPs, and we discovered there’s a nearly insatiable demand for B2B leads, which makes sense. People are very unhappy with the incumbent solutions because the data is inaccurate and there’s a lot of guesswork, brute force, not a lot of precision and it’s very noisy. We built a prototype of the product and took it out. We had 1,070 sign ups for a free account or free trial.
#2 AI Will Get Its Greatest Traction When It Helps Teams Become Superhuman
Leadcrunch was born from military technology. It was a B2B lead-generation platform using AI, which the industry desperately needed. As noted by Hubspot, the average marketer pays around $43 per B2B lead, with over 80% reporting that they find their efforts “slightly successful.” In other words, lead generation is run on an archaic system that’s based on intuition, leaving no quantifiable terms for success. This is where Hyde is looking to make sales teams much more powerful.
“In the case of AI, where it gets the greatest traction is where it’s making people stronger and smarter,” Hyde said. “So we’ve designed our technology to make the salesperson almost superhuman. They cannot be replaced by a machine, but a machine can certainly make them smarter and stronger.”
Even though it sounds like the Leadcrunch team has been doing this for over a decade, AI in B2B sales is a relatively new phenomenon. As Sparklane notes, while 80% of marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize marketing by 2020, only 10% are currently using it.
Furthermore, according to Bloomberg, AI companies saw a 300% increase in VC funding in 2014, meaning the technology is on the rise. However, this begs the question: If AI is going to change lead generation, why is there such a slow adoption?
#3 Inefficient Sales Teams Are Causing Slow Adoption of AI
To answer this, Hyde has broken down a few factors he’s seen in businesses. First, a lot of teams lack the tools and proper training to be efficient at sales. Second, B2B teams generally focus their efforts inefficiently toward the wrong goals or tracking mechanisms. Finally, most teams don’t understand the core component of any marketing effort: building relationships.
As Hyde says, “The greatest value that people have with each other, our currency if you will, is our emotional connection. And emotional connections are much easier between people than between machines and people.”
Quite simply, this is an industry built off of transactions which involve emotion and trust to conduct. And even though we have this notion that machines might replace our processes, Hyde makes an excellent point: if your job can be replaced by a robot, then it probably doesn’t involve much emotion.
The drive of people to grow and prosper will always be based on emotion. It’s the core of our passion. It’s what fuels those early mornings and late nights grinding away. And while Hyde would probably admit that emotion can never be quantified, the energy from it can.
That’s what’s going to change the game for lead generation and business in general. That’s where AI is headed. Will this bring about better connections between people? No one can say for certain, but Olin Hyde and team are certainly off to a good start.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.