Unlocking Sales Potential: Nick Smith’s Sailes and the Role of AI Innovation – ValiantCEO

Unlocking Sales Potential: Nick Smith's Sailes and the Role of AI Innovation - ValiantCEO

Nick Smith is the Founder and CEO of Sailes . After spending the majority of his career in strategic sales at CBS Corporation, iHeart Radio, Audacy, and other companies, Nick realized how practical uses of AI could help executives thrive. He founded Sailes in 2018 to help sales teams reduce repetitive manual tasks, increase business development opportunities, and multiply output. Before leading Sailes, Nick was the co-host of “Common Ground” a radio show on WOR New York and iHeart Radio that focused on bridging the gap between business and labor. Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here. WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED? All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE Table of Contents We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company. We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company. My name is Nick Smith, and I am the CEO & Founder of Nick Smith: Sailes . We build patent-pending, personality-driven Sailebots® to automate the entire prospecting lifecycle for some of the world’s leading sales executives and teams. I appreciate the opportunity to share a bit about my journey and the inception of Sailes. My professional background has been quite diverse, spanning from leadership roles in sales to a stint in political advertising, all centered around the art of bringing disparate groups together. My passion lies in exploring the nexus of business and labor dynamics. Before establishing Sailes, alongside my sales endeavors, I had the privilege of co-hosting a radio show named “Common Ground” on WOR New York. The show aimed to foster understanding and collaboration between the realms of business and labor, mirroring my commitment to bridging gaps and fostering meaningful connections. In 2018, I took the plunge into entrepreneurship by founding Sailes. This venture was a natural progression after dedicating a significant portion of my career to strategic sales at esteemed organizations like CBS Corporation, iHeartRadio, Audacy, and others. My experiences in sales leadership and management enabled me to see the immense potential of AI in enhancing executive performance. The realization that AI could streamline manual tasks, create new avenues for business development, and significantly boost productivity became the driving force behind the genesis of Sailes. At Sailes, our mission is to empower executives by seamlessly integrating AI solutions into their workflows. We believe that harnessing the power of technology can not only alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks but also open up new horizons for growth and efficiency. The journey so far has been exhilarating, and we are dedicated to continually evolving our offerings to meet the dynamic needs of the business landscape. Can you share with us your journey towards integrating AI into your business operations? Can you share with us your journey towards integrating AI into your business operations? Certainly, the integration of AI into our business operations at Sailes has been a fascinating journey with its roots in a moment of serendipity. The spark ignited on July 4th, 2018, during a vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. In that picturesque setting, a compelling idea took shape – the concept of a dedicated AI “Sailebot” designed to automate the tedious prospecting tasks that often burden sales professionals. Nick Smith: It struck me as a revolutionary notion that could empower sales teams to redirect their focus toward what truly matters: building relationships and driving sales. I immediately jotted it down in my phone, emphasizing the belief that great ideas can manifest unexpectedly, even during a holiday, and seizing them is paramount. This experience taught me the importance of swift action when innovative ideas present themselves, as they have the potential to pave the way for transformative advancements. Following that pivotal moment, the journey unfolded as I transitioned from conceptualizing the idea to the practical application of AI in our business model. Drawing from my extensive background in sales leadership, I recognized the immense untapped potential of AI in reshaping the landscape of sales and business development. The aim was clear – to create a platform that marries the efficiency of AI with the nuanced art of salesmanship. Sailes emerged as a manifestation of this vision in 2018, embodying the belief that AI can be a valuable ally in enhancing productivity and creating new opportunities for growth in the business realm. As we ventured into integrating AI into our operations, the focus was not just on automation but on strategically leveraging technology to augment human capabilities. The Sailes journey has been characterized by a commitment to empowering executives and sales professionals alike, fostering an ecosystem where innovation and human ingenuity work in tandem. The ongoing evolution of our AI solutions reflects our dedication to staying ahead of the curve and continually enhancing the value we bring to businesses navigating the dynamic landscape of today’s markets. What specific areas of your business have been most impacted by AI, and how? What specific areas of your business have been most impacted by AI, and how? The impact of AI on Sailes has been transformative, particularly in driving our impressive growth trajectory. The core of our success lies in our innovative product, and the numbers tell the story – a staggering 200% year-over-year growth. Nick Smith: This meteoric rise is fueled by a unique synergy between our human sales team and the formidable force of 11 AI-powered Sailebots®. This dynamic combination has proven to be a game-changer, propelling us to new heights in the market. In the pre-2023 landscape, Sailes navigated uncharted territory by operating without a traditional sales team. It’s remarkable to note that during this phase, we achieved an astounding $2 million in annual recurring revenue solely through the prowess of our Sailebots®. The absence of a human-centric sales team underscores the pivotal role that AI played in not just supplementing but fundamentally driving our sales efforts during this time. This unconventional approach not only showcased the effectiveness of our AI solution but also demonstrated the untapped potential within the intersection of technology and sales. The influence of AI extends beyond mere automation; it’s about creating a harmonious collaboration between human intuition and technological efficiency. The exponential growth we’ve witnessed stands as a testament to the strategic integration of AI across various facets of our business, from prospecting to customer engagement. Moving forward, our commitment to leveraging AI as a catalyst for growth remains unwavering, and we continue to explore innovative ways to maximize its impact across our expanding operations. What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in implementing AI, and how did you overcome them? What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in implementing AI, and how did you overcome them? Undoubtedly, one of the primary hurdles we’ve faced in implementing AI revolves around challenging the entrenched status quo within the sales industry. The traditional mindset prevalent among sales professionals often adheres to the mantra of “some will/some won’t, who cares? Who’s next?” Nick Smith: Breaking through this established paradigm and instigating a shift towards embracing AI as a transformative force requires concerted effort and perseverance. Encouraging sales leaders to recognize that there’s a more effective and efficient approach is not just a task; it’s the very essence of our mission at Sailes. The resistance to change, particularly in an industry deeply rooted in traditional methodologies, necessitates a multifaceted approach. We’ve dedicated ourselves to educating and enlightening salespeople about the tangible benefits that AI, specifically Sailebot®, can bring to their roles. This educational process involves showcasing the AI’s ability to automate mundane tasks, allowing sales professionals to focus on strategic and relationship-building aspects of their roles. It’s about dismantling the perception that embracing AI equates to relinquishing control; instead, it’s a collaborative effort to amplify human potential. Moreover, our journey involves dispelling misconceptions and fostering a culture of adaptability. We engage in ongoing dialogues with sales leaders, addressing concerns and demonstrating how AI seamlessly integrates into existing workflows. The real work lies not just in developing cutting-edge AI technology but in cultivating a mindset shift that aligns with the evolving landscape of sales. Overcoming these obstacles is not a one-time feat but an ongoing commitment to dismantling barriers and paving the way for a future where AI and human expertise synergize to drive unprecedented success in the sales domain. What advice would you give to other CEOs looking to integrate AI into their business? What advice would you give to other CEOs looking to integrate AI into their business? Embarking on the journey of integrating AI into business operations, particularly for elevating sales teams, is a strategic move that can reshape the dynamics of an organization. My advice to fellow CEOs is to explore the vast landscape of AI-enabled offerings, recognizing that the potential extends well beyond conventional applications like lead scoring. Nick Smith: The transformative power of AI becomes most evident when considering platforms that can seamlessly automate the entire sales process, from prospecting to closing deals. This isn’t merely about incremental improvements; it’s about embracing a tangible solution that has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of human hours. In the realm of AI, envisioning the broader possibilities is crucial. CEOs should seek solutions that align with their specific business needs and objectives. Look for AI technologies that go beyond the superficial and offer comprehensive automation, allowing sales teams to redirect their focus toward high-value, relationship-building activities. The goal is not just efficiency but a fundamental shift in how sales operations are conducted, with AI serving as a strategic ally rather than a supplementary tool. Furthermore, my advice is rooted in the understanding that successful integration of AI requires a holistic approach. It involves not only selecting the right AI technology but also fostering a culture of adaptability within the organization. Encouraging open communication about the benefits of AI, dispelling any apprehensions, and actively involving teams in the integration process is key. The journey toward AI integration is not just a technological shift but a cultural one, and CEOs should champion this transition to unlock the full potential of AI in enhancing business operations. How do you see AI evolving in your industry over the next 5 years? How do you see AI evolving in your industry over the next 5 years? Looking forward, the AI landscape is poised for transformative advancements that will reshape the dynamics of numerous industries. Specifically, within the realm of sales, the next 5 years hold the promise of significant evolution. One prominent trend that is set to continue is the deepening integration of AI into sales processes. Nick Smith: This goes beyond mere task automation; we anticipate the emergence of more sophisticated AI solutions that offer not only streamlined workflows but also delve into providing profound insights and predictive capabilities. These advancements will empower sales teams to make more informed decisions, fostering a heightened level of efficiency and strategic decision-making. A key facet of the evolving AI landscape in sales will be the increasing prevalence of AI-powered personalization. As we progress, businesses will harness the capabilities of AI to tailor their sales strategies and offerings with unprecedented precision, catering to the unique needs and preferences of individual customers. This shift towards hyper-personalization is not just about customization; it’s a strategic move to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction. AI will play a pivotal role in deciphering intricate patterns in customer behavior, enabling businesses to deliver a more tailored and relevant experience, ultimately strengthening customer relationships. Moreover, the trajectory of AI in the next 5 years is likely to extend beyond mere automation and personalization. We anticipate a broader integration of AI into strategic decision-making processes, where AI becomes an indispensable partner in shaping the overall sales strategy. This collaborative approach, combining human expertise with AI-driven insights, is poised to redefine how businesses approach sales, unlocking new dimensions of efficiency, innovation, and customer-centricity. The journey ahead holds exciting possibilities and businesses that proactively embrace and adapt to these AI trends are poised to lead the way in the evolving landscape of the sales industry. What does “success” in 2024 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision. What does “success” in 2024 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision. Success in 2024, particularly within the realm of Sailes, is envisioned as achieving a pioneering status for our AI in the realm of sales automation applications, thereby establishing new benchmarks within the industry. It’s not just about being a player in the field but about leading the charge in shaping the future of sales through cutting-edge AI solutions. Nick Smith: A significant facet of this success lies in the expansion of our AI’s capabilities, transcending the boundaries of conventional automation. We are actively working towards enabling our AI not only to process visual data with unparalleled accuracy but also to adapt and learn dynamically in real-time scenarios. Central to our vision of success is Starboard™, a crucial component that serves as the platform for interaction and collaboration between our AI and human sales leaders. In 2024, success means seeing Starboard™ evolve into a dynamic space where AI and human expertise seamlessly intertwine. It’s not just a tool for automation but a collaborative environment where our AI learns from the insights of human Sales Leaders, and vice versa. The goal is to create a symbiotic relationship, fostering a continuous exchange of knowledge and performance trends that propels both the AI and human elements to new heights. On a broader scale, success extends beyond technological achievements to the tangible impact we make on the sales landscape. It involves empowering businesses to unlock unprecedented efficiency, providing sales leaders with tools that not only automate tasks but elevate their strategic contributions. Success, in essence, is about redefining the paradigm of sales operations and leaving a lasting imprint on the industry through innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Nick Smith for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers. Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.