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What Is An AI SDR and How Do They Work?

Updated On: July 17, 2024
10 minutes read
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What Is An AI SDR and How Do They Work?

What if you could bring in thousands of more leads without expanding your SDR team? Well, you can.


AI SDRs are no longer a thing of the future—they're here and taking over the workflows that have slowed our sales teams for decades.


In this guide, we'll introduce you to AI SDRs and show you how to implement them into your workflows to generate more qualified leads.


Understanding AI SDRs

With only 17% of reps achieving 90% or higher of quota, AI SDRs are shifting from being a "nice to have" to becoming a major competitive advantage for sales teams.


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What is an AI SDR?

An AI SDR, or AI sales development representative, is software that uses artificial intelligence to perform the tasks typically handled by a human SDR.


The use cases of AI SDRs in sales teams vary. You might entrust them with the entire prospecting process or have them handle specific manual tasks, freeing up your human SDRs to focus on things that matter most. How deeply you integrate AI SDRs in your workflows depends on your comfort with the technology and the sophistication of your tech stack.


Further down the article, we’ll give you all the information you need to choose the best approach for your business.


AI vs Human SDRs

When thinking about adding AI to your team, it's normal to ask, "How does AI compare to human employees?" 


So, let's break it down and explore the differences and benefits of each.


AI SDRs

In many instances, AI SDRs outperform human agents:


  • Scalable processes. Most SDR tasks like cold outreach, follow-ups, and lead scoring are repeatable. With a well-structured process in place, AI can take over these tasks and reach your SDR quota way faster.


  • Consistent messaging. You don’t have to worry about your messages sounding off. Unlike humans, AI sticks to the script.


  • Automated optimization. AI SDRs constantly evaluate their performance in the background and make adjustments on the fly. No need to spend hours poring over data.


  • Lower investment. Scaling SDR with AI doesn’t come with payroll costs or extensive training programs.



Ava is an AI SDR ready to take over your outbound prospecting.
Discover how she can accelerate your sales process.  


Human SDRs

Yet there are traits only inherent to human SDRs: 


  • Decision-making in unscripted scenarios. While AI can make decisions based on data input, only human SDRs can manage situations that deviate from the ordinary.


  • Ability to build personal connection and rapport with customers. Humans can apply their personal traits and emotional intelligence to appeal to leads and create stronger connections with them. 


  • Understanding of cultural nuances and subtle cues. Human SDRs better handle ongoing conversations for their ability to spot and interpret cultural nuances and contextual cues.



Who comes out on top in the AI SDR vs. human SDR debate?
While we'd love to offer a new angle, the answer remains the same: there's no competition between AI and humans to determine winners and losers. AI SDRs will scale your operations and remove the need to hire more SDRs, but you still need a human to move your qualified leads down the funnel.


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4 Reasons to implement AI SDRs

In 2023, less than 5% of B2B sales activities were powered by generative AI technologies. By 2028, the number will reach 60%. Such a trend is easily explained by the numerous benefits of AI in sales, particularly in SDR.


Automate and scale prospecting

Struggling to meet your monthly quota? It's no surprise—your human SDRs spend hours scouring databases, scraping the web for personalization insights, and crafting individualized messages, over and over again. Oh, and don’t forget about follow-ups… 


With AI SDRs, you can automate all these tasks so your human agents can focus solely on mapping out the process. 


Ava has a database of 300M+ B2B prospects that she can instantly search to pinpoint your target customer personas. She also automatically scrapes the web and social media pages to find insights that she uses to personalize the emails she writes. Try Ava now.


Create a consistent experience for leads

Misspelling names, forgetting follow-ups, or having to change communication points—these can happen even to the best SDRs. Do we even need to discuss how it impacts the lead experience?


AI SDRs let you create a smooth experience for every contact, no matter what. They don’t have vacations or bad days—nothing slips through the cracks in AI-powered processes.


In Artisan, you can create a three-step email sequence that will be sent out every two days so you don’t have to worry about manual follow-ups. If the lead replies, Ava will stop the sequence.


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Enhance your outreach with data-driven actions

AI is great at analyzing data—it can handle large amounts of information and find patterns that humans might miss.


Best of all, AI SDRs can use the data to act fast. For example, they can send a follow-up message when a user repeatedly visits your site or reach out to a prospect after they've posted a career update on LinkedIn.


Let human SDRs focus on high-priority tasks

AI SDRs are primarily designed to free up your human agents for more critical responsibilities. If your human SDRs have been struggling to prioritize leads and connect with high-ticket prospects, now is the time to address it.


Curious about what Ava can do for your sales team? Hire Ava now to experience how AI can accelerate your outbound cycle. She can automate over 80% of manual tasks!


The Top 5 AI SDRs

Before we dive deeper into the specific applications of AI SDRs in the sales process, let's take a look at the technology that makes it all possible (and prove we aren’t talking science fiction).


1. Artisan

artisan

At Artisan, we’ve developed an AI SDR Ava to help businesses automate over 80% of the outbound demand generation process.


What Ava does:


  • Communicates with your sales team through a chat interface


  • Understands your ideal customer profile (ICP) based on your product description, target audience, and their pain points


  • Prospects leads by scraping over 300M contacts in 200 countries across B2B partners’ databases


  • Enriches leads with third party sources like CrunchBase and web scraping their Twitter, LinkedIn and website


  • Writes hyper-personalized outreach to leads following different cold email strategies with AI Sales Playbooks 


  • Uses AI-powered automation to follow up with leads


  • Manages deliverability with email warmup, dynamic send limits, and many other tools


  • Integrates with HubSpot, Salesforce, and other systems



With Ava, you have full control over your brand voice without having to micromanage it. You can choose one of the AI Sales Playbooks to determine how Ava will approach your leads. 


playbook

All in all, nothing speaks better than customers’ success stories, right? Medical contract research organization (CRO) bioaccess entrusted Ava with business development. In just two months, Julio Martinez-Clark, CEO of bioaccess, reports outstanding results:


“I have been using Ava for about two months. I have had a consistent +3% response rate and four sales calls leading to potential sales. Ava simplifies my company’s business development process and fills my calendar with sales calls. This is precisely what I wanted. I wouldn’t trade Ava for anything else in the market!”


Julio Martinez-Clark, CEO of bioaccess


Ready to hit your SDR quota? Let Ava automate your outbound workflows and free up your SDRs for more important tasks. 


2. AiSDR

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AiSDR provides AI bots for sales development, focusing on crafting realistic AI emails. 


Similar to Ava, AiSDR scrapes a vast lead database and initiates conversations with leads that match your ICP. The system analyzes leads' latest LinkedIn activity and uses the data to personalize cold pitches.


Users have noted that AiSDR lacks integrations with essential business software such as Salesforce. If integration capabilities are critical for you, consider alternative options from our list.


3. 11x

11x

On a mission to empower teams with AI workers, 11x has recently introduced Alice, an AI-powered SDR.


Alice identifies potential buyers, researches relevant lead data, and engages them with personalized messages - but you are not able to communicate with Alice. Users have reported issues with bugs on the platform leading to emails being generated in the wrong language.


4. Relevance.ai

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Meet Bosh, the AI SDR from Relevance.ai.


Bosh offers flexibility and integration options. You can deeply integrate it into your workflows, going beyond outbound and prospecting tasks, but the company does not specialize in creating AI SDRs, hence it is less of a focus for them.


Of course, this flexibility comes with a trade-off. Setting up the agent involves extensive training, configuring, and testing the bot.


Integrating AI SDR with existing sales workflows

“Okay, that sounds good in theory. How do I fit them into my workflows?”


Well, the answer depends on what your existing workflows look like and to what extent you want to automate them with AI SDRs. But regardless of the specifics, your AI SDR integration starts here:


CRM integration

So you’re managing your sales process through a CRM system. You can integrate your AI SDRs with it to track your interaction with prospects across all channels in one place.


crm-integration

Ava, for instance, integrates seamlessly with HubSpot and Salesforce, allowing sales teams to: 


  • Prevent outreach to existing customers and prospects


  • Export all lead data to a centralized system


  • Build a pipeline with highly qualified leads


  • Reach out to existing prospects that have gone cold


  • Build custom sales workflows powered by GenAI 



You can start by using your AI SDR to find and nurture qualified leads, then send them to your CRM system's pipeline for further processing.


Unified communication channels

Even if you entrust your prospecting process to AI SDRs, you’ll want to stay updated on those conversations. By integrating them into your company’s unified communications, you’ll keep everyone involved updated on the prospecting process and lead updates.


Ava integrates with Slack, so you don’t have to keep logging into Artisan for updates. All notifications will appear in a dedicated channel you can share with specific team members.


unified-communication

Automated task assignment

Depending on how deeply you integrate AI into your sales workflows, you’ll want to interfere at different stages. 


If you’re just starting out, you may want to approve all of your AI SDR’s actions before it proceeds. As you gain confidence in the system, you might only need to intervene when a user responds to the AI outreach or even later in the process. 


This is where you need to integrate your AI SDRs with your task management software—so you don’t have to manually review every step in the AI workflow and inevitably miss crucial moments for intervention. 


Whether you use ClickUp, Monday, or manage your team’s tasks directly in your CRM system, Ava will soon be able to seamlessly integrate with any platform through Zapier. Simply set trigger events and let automation update your team’s to-do list.


Want to try Ava for yourself? Hire Ava now, and she’ll execute successful outbound strategies to boost your conversion rates. Get more meetings booked into your calendar instantly.


AI SDR in lead generation

Lead generation is typically the most repetitive and automatable task in SDR—perfect for being offloaded to AI. 


Here’s how AI SDRs enhance lead generation:


  • More accurate lead qualification. In 2023, 41% of sales pros were already using AI tools to qualify leads. Considering the rapid adoption of AI, these numbers have likely skyrocketed since then. Clearly, AI SDRs will soon be indispensable to the lead qualification process.


  • Personalized outreach at scale. When you have 200 pre-qualified leads in your pipeline, spending just two minutes to personalize each message would take almost seven hours of work. AI SDRs can do it faster and without errors. 


  • 24/7 operation. AI SDRs don’t sleep, take breaks, or go on vacation. They can work around the clock, making contact with leads at the best times, regardless of the time zone.


  • Lead enrichment. Keeping lead profiles updated is hard. AI SDRs like Artisan’s Ava continuously scrape web and third-party data to update your leads' profiles with relevant information, ensuring you always have reliable data.


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AI SDR in different sales processes

And how do AI SDRs fit into outbound and inbound sales processes? Let’s see. 


Using AI SDRs for outbound sales 

Outbound SDRs always have their plates full. Not that other members of sales teams aren’t busy, but the outbound sales process involves the most draining repetitive tasks, such as:


  • Email warmup


  • Lead discovery and research


  • Cold email personalization and outreach


  • Follow-ups



…and so on in a continuous cycle. AI SDRs can take over all of these outbound sales tasks, saving human SDRs’ energy for handling high-intent leads.


Yes, Ava automates the entire outbound sales process. Ready to give it a try? Talk to our sales team.


Using AI SDRs for inbound sales

AI SDRs are primarily used for automating outbound processes, and understandably so. It's easier to rely on AI when there's minimal risk involved. If they find good leads, great! If not, it's no big deal.


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Inbound sales are trickier. We’ve all had our share of impersonal AI chatbot interactions and don’t want to lose those inbound leads to a glitchy AI process. But it's time to leave that mindset in the past.


AI SDRs go far beyond crafting cold emails. They can support inbound sales by:


  • Automating meeting scheduling


  • Identifying high-intent buyers with AI-driven sentiment analysis


  • Transcribing and summarizing discovery calls


  • Preparing sales meeting agenda


  • Crafting follow-ups



You can start introducing AI SDRs into inbound sales by letting them take over neglected tasks. Say, if your agents fail to regularly analyze their calls (we know they do), let AI SDRs handle it. Enjoyed the results? Gradually increase their responsibilities.


Impact on sales teams

Eighty-two percent of sales reps agree that building relationships and connecting are the most important and fulfilling aspects of their job. With AI, they can finally focus on it.


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Depending on your current structure and needs, an AI SDR like Ava can assume various responsibilities within your SDR team:


  • One-person outbound sales team. As a solo startup founder, you can rely on AI SDRs to fill your calendar with sales calls. No need to hire a dedicated team with your limited resources.


  • Top-of-funnel lead generator. If your A-level SDR team is struggling to meet quotas, bring in AI SDRs to swiftly fill the top of the funnel with qualified leads.


  • Pocket assistant for human SDRs. AI-powered virtual assistants can free up your SDRs for high-priority tasks by automating manual processes from lead qualification to copywriting.


Ava can replicate your top-performing BDRs and share their strategies across your entire team. Ready to give it a try? Hire Ava now.


Future of AI SDR

Given the rapid pace of AI development, any long-term prediction seems too vague (and futuristic). It will only take months before AI SDRs will become even more sophisticated and widespread.


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Growing trust in AI 

Seventy-eight percent of buyers already trust the accuracy and reliability of AI-powered solutions. This number is only increasing as language learning models and AI solutions continue to improve their accuracy.


With 66% of B2B sales teams having already invested in AI or automation tools, AI SDRs will soon become an inseparable part of successful sales teams.


More capabilities to come

Technological development has accelerated to a point where you don’t have to wait for the next major update for years.


For now, most AI SDRs successfully handle outbound activities like lead qualification and cold outreach. In a few months, our developers will release many more capabilities, including call monitoring, direct meeting scheduling capabilities, sales agenda outlining, and more. 


Ava and other AI SDRs are on track to offer end-to-end sales development solutions, consolidating fragmented product stacks under one roof.


Get started with an AI SDR now. Hire Ava now, and she’ll launch a lead generation campaign for you immediately. 



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