AiThority Interview with Monica Lewis, Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn
In 2023, LinkedIn product management prominently features generative AI models for content creation and skills evaluation. According to the latest LinkedIn data, most jobs can now leverage Generative AI (GAI) capabilities to create new content. Despite pertinent questions raised about GAI’s full-spectrum capabilities in high-value job functions, such as sales, IT security, and marketing, organizations are building frameworks to complement the adoption and scaling of operations for AI adoption. From over 38,000 skills listed in LinkedIn’s taxonomy, more than 500 skills are most likely replicable by GAI. Over 800 skills are GAI-complimentary, especially in the Sales, marketing, and Customer Service departments.
In our latest AiThority interview series, we sat down with Monica Lewis, a senior director in the LinkedIn product management team. Monica shared her views on the future of GAI in sales and much more.
Hi Monica, welcome to the Interview Series at AiThority.com. Please tell us a bit about your role at LinkedIn and what was your team’s contribution to the recently launched LinkedIn GAI features for Sales Navigator.
Monica Lewis: I’ve spent over 10 years building tools for our customers on LinkedIn’s product team, and I currently serve as the Senior Director of Product Management for our Sales Solutions business. While artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t new to us at LinkedIn, recent advancements in this technology are redefining how we work. My team is focused on exploring how we can use new technologies, like generative artificial intelligence (GAI), to simplify, augment, and automate certain tasks, specifically for B2B sellers.
One main challenge for B2B sellers is that they have little time for the work that matters most – building strong relationships with buyers and customers. So most recently, we’ve developed tools that leverage GAI to streamline two of the most time-consuming, but critical, tasks in the sales process: finding leads and researching accounts. Our pilot of AI-assisted search and Account IQ is designed to enable sellers to spend more time with the right people, and have more informed conversations every time they connect with a buyer.
We’re just getting started with the different ways GAI will shape the future of B2B selling, and it’s been a really exciting time to explore this new technology, iterate with our team, and learn from our customers.
How do AI-assisted search capabilities empower sellers at various stages of their sales lifecycle?
Monica: There’s a lot of complexity in the B2B buying process, which is months long and involves many decision-makers.
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Finding the right people to engage with throughout this journey is one of the most important steps for sellers. With AI-assisted search, sellers can complete this step easier and faster by using conversational language to express what they are looking for. For example, a seller can say: “Find me marketing decision makers at LinkedIn on the U.S. East Coast with whom I have a second-degree connection.”
AI-assisted search automatically selects the right filters to find leads, based on the prompt.
What’s powerful about AI-assisted search is that it can help sellers uncover additional connections that may be able to help move the buying process forward. For example, this tool may help sellers find a past customer who is now in a new role at a new company that the seller is looking to engage with. While the past customer may not be a member of the buying committee, this individual may be able to share more about their experience with the seller’s product or service with their company leaders and help influence the buying decision throughout the process.
Could you please tell us how AI plays an important role in B2B sales success? Could you share an example from one of your customers/ users?
As the window to engage and capture the attention of a B2B buyer is shrinking, it’s more important than ever for sellers to show up as informed and trusted advisors. While we’re just starting to scratch the surface of how GAI will enable sellers to spend more time investing in relationships, our customers are energized by the possibilities.
One example of how GAI can help free up sellers’ time for more relationship building is reducing the amount of time sellers spend finding information about their accounts. Our research related to the future of sales technology indicates that sellers who consistently exceed their quota spend more time researching than their peers, so we know this step makes a difference in sales outcomes.
But, right now, sellers have to go to multiple sources to find the information they’re looking for.
We created Account IQ to bring together unique LinkedIn insights and key company information into a single view, saving sellers the time of having to go to multiple different places and enabling them to have informed conversations every time they connect with a customer.
Please tell us about LinkedIn’s sales enablement resources that sellers could utilize to get a firm grip on the GAI for Sales Navigator.
Monica: As we continue to enhance Sales Navigator, our most recent updates focus on reimagining the way sellers can use the tool with GAI. We prioritized solutions for two of the top challenges for sellers – finding leads and completing account research.
Sellers love the power of search in Sales Navigator – it’s one of the most used features, as it provides sellers with accurate up-to-date insights from our community of 950M+ members to help them better find the leads they’re looking for. By bringing GAI to our search tool with AI-assisted search, we can help sellers unlock a new level of ease in lead identification. Similar to AI-assisted search, Account IQ does the heavy lifting of account research so sellers can complete a critical step in the sales process in an easier, faster, and more effective way.
AI-assisted search and Account IQ are starting to pave the way for a future of B2B selling that is more people-centric than ever before. With these new features, we can help free up sellers’ time from some of the day-to-day tactical tasks so that they can focus on the higher-impact work of building relationships with customers and prospects.
What is the future of AI in sales? Which industries are still lagging in terms of adoption and execution of AI-powered sales acceleration?
Monica: We’ve already seen how AI can benefit sellers as this technology powers many of our existing features in Sales Navigator. For example, today in Sales Navigator, sellers can understand when an individual may be interested in learning more about their product or service – what we call buyer intent – based on AI models that use explicit and implicit signals to determine interest level.
With GAI, there’s so much more opportunity to unlock.
GAI is already starting to create more efficiencies with lead identification, sales forecasting, and personalized outreach, and it’s clear that this technology will continue to transform B2B sales as we know it.
Importantly, sellers are embracing this moment of change with nearly 70% of them expecting to increase their use of AI in the next six months. In the B2B sales industry of the future, AI will take on more of the science of selling, like automating repetitive tasks. Sellers will be able to spend more time on the art of selling, meaning work that is uniquely human.
Across our LinkedIn community, we’re seeing that members pivoting toward AI the fastest and adding AI skills to their profiles are professionals in Financial Services, Retail, and Wholesale.
Your tips to all Chief Sales and Revenue Officers who are at an early adoption stage with GAI for their organizations:
Monica: AI is going to drive a new era in the world of work, with nearly half of US executives indicating that generative AI will increase productivity. Even though leaders may not have all of the answers now, it’s clear that AI is going to create shifts in how we complete work and remove a lot of the drudgery. During this moment of change, it’s critical for leaders to embrace a growth mindset and remain agile. To help professionals learn more about AI and develop AI skills, we’ve unlocked some of our most popular LinkedIn Learning courses on AI, such as “Generative AI for Business Leaders” and “Get Ready for Generative AI.”
For revenue officers and sales leaders, it’s important to map out what work your sales team does that is centered on people-driven tasks, such as meeting with customers to understand the business challenges they are trying to solve, and what work doesn’t require so much direct human involvement. It’s then possible to understand where GAI can be applied in sellers’ workflows and what new skills teams need to gain to keep pace with the changes.
Thank you, Monica! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Monica Lewis is a Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn.
LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and transforms the way companies hire, learn, market, and sell. Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce through the ongoing development of the world’s first Economic Graph.
LinkedIn has over 930 million members and has offices around the globe.