Keynote | Panel: Artificial Intelligence

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In the Keynote Panel “Artificial Intelligence | DEMOFEST 2023”, panelists from companies such as Zendesk, The Access Group, and Performance Sales Training discussed the current and potential use cases of AI in pre-sales. They emphasized the need for realistic expectations about the capabilities of AI and the importance of finding a balance between AI replacing tasks and AI helping to complete tasks quicker. The panelists also recognized the benefits and risks of AI and stressed the importance of striking a balance between human traits and technological advancements. They predicted that the integration of AI would shrink deal velocity and increase personalization, but the pre-sales role would not disappear. Finally, they acknowledged that AI technology managers would come to the forefront more now, helping create momentum for AI while keeping the human aspect in focus as a trusted advisor.

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  • 00:00:00 The moderator and panelists are introduced for the keynote session surrounding Artificial Intelligence. The moderator introduces the panelists, which includes individuals from companies such as Zendesk, The Access Group, and Performance Sales Training. The moderator notes that the panel will focus on the potential and current use cases of AI, as opposed to just discussing its future, and encourages attendees to participate by asking questions in the Q&A box and engaging in the community on Discord.
  • 00:05:00 The speakers discussed different types of AI currently being used in pre-sales, such as analyzing data for sales calls and predicting revenues. They also discussed real-time tools that give sales coaching tips and prompts, with some caution about over-coaching individuals in the moment. The speakers acknowledged chat GPT as a highly useful tool for finding out missing gaps and information about a customer quickly. The speakers also mentioned the potential time-saving benefits of AI-powered presentation creation tools like Tome or Beautiful. They are likely to save time for pre-sales professionals by completing 80% of the work for them.
  • 00:10:00 The panelists discuss various tools that are leveraging AI, including, which reduces background noise, and AI enablement for CX processes. The panelists emphasize the need for realistic expectations about the capabilities of AI and caution against relying solely on AI without guardrails in place. They also note that it is too early to measure the impact of the tools currently in use but suggest that metrics can be placed on them to measure their effectiveness in closing deals. Overall, the panelists view AI as a companion tool that needs to be taught and worked with to achieve its true potential.
  • 00:15:00 The panelists discuss their excitement for the potential of AI tools such as Microsoft co-pilot, which will allow for more efficient and productive use of existing products. Although warning that many AI tools can overpromise and underdeliver, they stress the importance of finding a balance between AI replacing tasks and AI helping to complete tasks quicker. The panel also touches on the idea of developing a good relationship with AI and acknowledging its potential for improving productivity.
  • 00:20:00 The panelists discuss the importance of looking at both product and process when it comes to AI. They question whether the outcome is better with or without AI and how AI can be utilized in order to provide more value to the product. They also talk about their excitement for the time savings and internal enablement that AI can bring to productivity and efficiency, such as reducing time spent on queries by utilizing an AI engine and reducing skills gaps. Finally, they express their hopefulness that AI will bring many good things and are excited to see where it leads.
  • 00:25:00 The panel discusses concerns around the use of AI tools in business environments and the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands. The group emphasizes the importance of protecting passwords and regularly changing them, with some recommending additional measures like utilizing tools that mitigate risks. However, they also acknowledge that data breaches can happen, primarily due to human error, and suggest responding to such events and learning from them as the way forward. They do not believe AI, in and of itself, poses a significant risk to data privacy.
  • 00:30:00 The panel discusses the potential benefits and risks of utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in security and data privacy. They acknowledged that AI can be both a threat and a solution to identifying threats, and there is a need for balance in its use. The panelists talked about the privacy rules that have been put in place in different parts of the world and discussed how AI can be used for good or villainous purposes. They stressed the importance of companies staying on top of AI’s ethical implications and suggested criteria to adopt, including ensuring that customers are not tricked into interacting with AI.
  • 00:35:00 The panel discusses the potential dangers of AI replacing human traits, such as eye contact and communication skills. They highlight the importance of maintaining human qualities and not solely relying on AI to provide perfect interactions. The discussion then shifts to the impact of AI on the buyer’s journey, with the panel explaining that AI will likely speed up the process. Buyers will become more informed about businesses before engaging with them, and companies should strive to be one of the first options presented by AI search engines. The potential downside is that companies may miss out on opportunities because the buyers have already done their research, and the company was not presented by the AI search. Overall, the panel recognizes the benefits and dangers of AI and emphasized the importance of striking a balance between human traits and technological advancements.
  • 00:40:00 The panel discusses how AI will impact the buyer’s journey, and how it can both accelerate and complicate the journey. They mention that AI can personalize outbound prospecting at scale, going beyond what a human can do, and generating high-quality and high-velocity leads. They further discuss how generative AI can change content creation for videos, which can be done in seconds, making it possible for customers to create their own demos. However, they also believe that selling will always be a human thing because of the need for human interaction, negotiation, and personalization.
  • 00:45:00 The panel discusses the future of pre-sales and how it will be affected by the integration of AI. The speakers believe that deal velocity will shrink and personalization will increase while the human element will be back loaded to the end of the sales cycle. They also discuss the fear of pre-sales people losing their jobs due to AI integration but believe that the role of pre-sales will become even more critical as they continue to build relationships with their customers and help them make sense of all the technology and information they receive. The panel also recognizes that there will be early adopters and late adopters of the technology, but the pre-sales role will not go away. They emphasize the importance of human connection and emotion in the sales process, which AI cannot fully replicate.
  • 00:50:00 The panel discusses the use of AI and the skills required to use it effectively. The panelists agree that AI technology still has a long way to go, and there is a significant gap between its current capabilities and its potential. Although there are already products that use AI, they are not yet at the point where there is a “killer use case” that sets them apart. Pre-sales technology managers are expected to come to the forefront more now with the rise of AI. The panelists suggest that their roles will help create momentum for AI while keeping the human aspect in focus as a trusted advisor.
  • 00:55:00 The moderator thanks the panelists and attendees for their time and expertise during the super interesting panel on artificial intelligence. The speaker also reminds attendees about the game and encourages them to participate in filling out feedback surveys to earn points towards prizes. Additionally, the speaker encourages attendees to check out DEMOFESTx in Dublin, London, and New York City and to visit the expo hall, which features partners and humanitarian organizations. The speaker also reminds attendees to check out the DEMOFEST community on Discord to connect with peers and view slide decks. Finally, the speaker thanks everyone for joining the event and announces that recordings of the sessions will be available for viewing.

About the Presenters

Sara Jones

Global VP Presales Zendesk

Sara joined Zendesk in late 2021 as Global VP for Presales, after a 24 year career with SAP.  While at SAP she fine tuned her skills as a Presales Individual Contributor for 9 years and then moved into leadership, gaining experience in all market segments, across multiple industries and different lines of business.  She also led a 3 year transformational assignment in China.

Sara is passionate about the Presales role and elevating the brand within the Tech world.

Sara is a member of Chief and the Presales Leadership Collective.
Keynote speaker at Global Women in Stem Conference (2022)
Keynote speaker at Zendesk Atlanta Connect (2022)

Married for many years to Owen (a fellow Brit). British by birth, American by choice (citizenship in 2004).  Mum of 2 brilliant children: 17 year old Isabelle (Senior) who is heading off to University of Arizona and 15 year old Oliver (Freshman) who is a Soccer wiz.The whole family are avid Atlanta United supporters and Sara is a huge Wonder Woman fan.

Adam Freeman

PreSales and Buyer Enablement leader The Access Group

Adam Freeman is the leader of an ultra-high-performance Presales team at The Access Group, one of the fastest growing companies in the UK. As a qualified accountant, Adam has reimagined PreSales KPI’s and processes to better align to modern SaaS software companies key outcomes and objectives. Adam also co-hosts the podcast “Two Presales in a Pod ” together with Don Carmichael.

Julian Lywood

Global Head of Presales Technologies Okta

Julie Hansen

Founder Sales Presentation Expert

Julie Hansen helps sales and presales deliver more engaging, successful virtual presentations and demos through her company, Performance Sales and Training, and as a Great Demo! Partner.
Julie is the author of three sales books, including Look Me In The Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners, & Teams, which was named the Top Sales Book of 2021. She is also the creator of the Selling On Video Master Class.

In addition to an award-winning sales career, Julie worked as a professional actor performing in over 75 plays, commercials, movies and television shows, including HBO’s Sex & the City.

Don Carmichael

Founder & Chief Presales Evangelist Winning Skills Ltd

Don Carmichael is a PreSales coach, trainer and keynote speaker and the Founder and Chief PreSales Evangelist at Winning Skills Ltd. After a 30-year PreSales career including heading EMEA PreSales enablement at both SAP and Oracle, Don founded Winning Skills to elevate the PreSales skill set and help take the profession and craft forward as Buyer Enablers. Don has taught PreSales skills at Adobe, Deloitte, SurveyMonkey, Sage, Freshworks, Concur and many, many others. Don is co-host of the ‘Two PreSales in a Pod’ podcast series, has his own hashtag on LinkedIn #PreSalesbyDonCarmichael, and regularly contributes to web events.