How to Sell AI Technology To Your First Customers (as A Startup)

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Jan 10, 2022
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How to Sell AI Technology To Your First Customers (as A Startup)

Selling your first AI technology can be incredibly challenging, especially considering the disinterest that arises when you make unfounded or exaggerated claims about the capabilities of AI. Despite being a challenging feat, especially for startups with a lower budget, it is still possible to generate high-quality leads for your AI technology.

This article guides you through the steps you can take to position your AI products so that customers see and buy the value you provide.

Determine Your Product Range and Market Positioning 

Determine Your Product Range and Market Positioning

Determine Your Product Range and Market Positioning

AI has multiple use cases in a variety of industries. The first step any AI startup should take is to decide on its product range and market positioning. What problems are you trying to solve? What will your products do? How will your AI technology stand out from similar products in the market?

Once you know what your products will do and what they will serve, it’s time to figure out your market positioning.  Knowing your market positioning helps with creating an effective marketing strategy; which is crucial for a bootstrapped startup. 

Determining your market positioning involves:

  • Identify the features that set your AI products apart from those existing in the market. These differences must be values or attributes that customers need or want. In addition, they should be distinct to your business – customers can only get them when working with your AI technology.
  • Focus on the market segment (and customers) that you serve the best. Your product should not be a one-size-fits-all solution, instead, it should speak to a particular audience and sell them solutions that resonate with the challenges they face.
  • Determine your place in the competitive market to see how your product dares in the competitive landscape

Understanding what products you offer, the problems you solve, and your market position are important steps in developing the ideal customer profile.

Define Your Ideal Customer 

Define Your Ideal Customer 

Define Your Ideal Customer

Every brand has an ideal customer. This is the person you had in mind when creating your AI product. AI startups must understand who their ideal customers are before selling AI technology. Your ideal customer is not simply embodied in a generic statement like we sell AI software for the farming sector. You have to be as specific as possible. For example, “Our Company develops AI analytics software for wheat a farmer that collects temperature, growth, yield, etc. data”. 

Now that you have narrowed down your ideal customers, you should look for customers who are not only profitable but are willing to talk about the value they obtained from your AI technology.

Focus on the Customer and their Problem

Focus on the Customer and their Problem

Focus on the Customer and their Problem

Most AI startups fail because they are too focused on the technology behind their innovations. Your ideal customer does not care about how you developed your tech unless they know it can solve their problems – and here lies the real money.

When selling your AI technology by touting the tech behind it, the most you are likely to get from a potential lead is casual interest. But to convert these leads, you must tell them how your AI technology solves their problems.

You can identify customer problems by:

  • Understanding the environment, the customer works in their processes, the organization structure, the business goals, and the larger industry challenges.
  • Discover the real problems a customer has (rather than the problems you think they have) or help them discover their problems.
  • Measure the problem to help your buyers understand exactly how your AI technology solves their problem
  • Get to the root of the problem and help potential customers understand

Customers consider purchases from a selfish point of view. They are not looking for how sophisticated your AI is; they are looking for a solution to their problem. It might be tempting to embellish your offering to make them more attractive to potential customers.

However, if you want to build a brand with a reputation for selling AI technology that works, honesty is your best policy. Be open with customers about the capabilities of your technology.

Develop a Sales Strategy

Develop a Sales Strategy

Develop a Sales Strategy

You know your product range, market positioning, ideal customer, and the problem your customers face. The next step is to develop a sales strategy that communicates your value proposition. A sales strategy is also important in kick-starting your growth strategy to keep you competitive.

A sales strategy for AI startups provides guidance and clear objectives for the business. A good sales strategy will include information KPIs, sales processes, team structure, product positioning, sales methodologies, buyer personas, and growth goals.

Here are the steps to follow to develop a successful sales strategy:

  • Communicate a powerful value proposition in your marketing message
  • Tell a compelling story that resonates with your customers. Share memorable stories in your marketing campaigns to build deeper relationships with your customers.
  • Focus on the customer’s buying journey instead of your sales process. Selling to customers might not follow a predictable progression, and the pace at which a customer moves from one stage to the next will vary. Your sales strategy should address the inconsistencies in buyer journeys by focusing on addressing the problems and needs of your customers then aligning them with the relevant messaging.
  • Identify the motivations behind your customer’s buyer behavior and curate your messaging to reflect these motivations. For example, a customer may be driven to consider AI solutions due to status quo, industry developments, or inefficient business processes. These motivations require different messages.
  • Identify any unconsidered needs your prospects might have and connect these needs to your AI technology
  • Align your sales and marketing efforts to ensure you achieve the desired results
  • Invest in customer retention and expansion (it is easier and cheaper to upsell existing customers than it is to acquire new ones).

Generate Leads to Your Business 

Generate Leads to Your Business 

Generate Leads to Your Business

Once you have a sales strategy in place, the next step in selling AI technology is to start generating leads for your AI startup. Here are the steps to help you generate high-quality leads to your business:

  • Develop a clear message with your prospects in mind. Your message should deal with the real challenges your customers face as well as solutions to these problems.
  • Educate your customers on why your solutions are ideal for their business
  • Address any risks that may arise during implementation
  • Identify sales opportunities that demonstrate the tangibility of AI in your customer’s business environment

Make a Case for Your AI 

Make a Case for Your AI 

Make a Case for Your AI

While industries might recognize the capabilities AI can have, adoption is still slow, even from large companies with the budget to implement these solutions. This means that you have to make a case for your AI solutions. 

You can do this by:

  • Demonstrating the ROI of AI for enterprises. Most organizations understand that AI is a revolutionary technology, but few can justify the investment to key decision-makers in the organization. Educate your prospects on how they can take full advantage of AI solutions, including the metrics to measure the effectiveness of AI in their enterprises.
  • Communicate your startup’s AI effectively to stakeholders so that at the end of your presentation, they understand the benefits clearly. Ensure that your pitch is non-technical so your message is not lost in technical jargon. 

Deliver Value with AI Products  

Deliver Value with AI Products  

Deliver Value with AI Products

Finally, every startup that wants to sell AI technology must deliver value to customers. Once you have a clear message and have made a case for your AI, sell your customers value by setting expectations about the value you will deliver to customers.

Your customers should understand clearly what your AI technology is capable of achieving from the onset. Not only does this help you build a credible brand, but it also allows for broader adoption of your AI technology.

Over to You

Having a smaller budget and fewer resources should not limit your ability to sell AI technology. The tips in this article show you how to sell your AI. These tips can be summed up as understanding your products and customers, developing a compelling message, delivering continuous value, and being honest in your marketing.

What AI technology do you want to build? Omdena AI incubator can help you build, deploy, and scale your AI solutions in 8 weeks.

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