I read an article not so long ago on how we normally see life-changing technology about once every 20 years. Recent examples of these are the internet and cell phones. Not-so-recent ones are the television, electricity, and the printing press.
However, as that same article stated, we should see seven of these life-changing technologies rolled out over the next 10 years. These could include advances in human genome sequencing, 3D printing of human organs, and other mind-bending advancements.
The speed and number of these technologies being rolled out can be attributed to the latest life-changing technology that’s currently hitting our inboxes: It’s called artificial intelligence, also referred to as AI. You may be reading this thinking, “This is fine and dandy, but how can it help me?” In this article, we will take a brief look and outline the many ways that AI can help you in your contracting business.
Why and How to Use AI
You need to start using these technologies. They can save you time, make you money, and improve the quality of your business practices tenfold. The flip side is that if you are not using AI and your competition is, you are going to be at a severe disadvantage.
It’s also a ton of fun. You would be amazed at what AI can create and how easy it is to use. Just a heads up: I always tell people to use AI as a tool, not as a final product. Double check the outputs, and don’t assume it’s doing everything right. AI is a facsimile, not factual.
Once you start to use it, you’ll need to pick a platform. There are a ton of different AI platforms that can help get you what you need. They vary from specializing in text writing to redesigning your backyard. The most common platform we hear about today is probably ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is a large language-model-based chatbot. It was rolled out to the public in November 2022 and has received a lot of media exposure. It’s extremely easy to use, and it can do everything from answer questions and write documents to create code for websites. It works in response to you giving what is called a “prompt.”
A prompt may sound technical, but all it is doing is telling the AI tool what to do. For example, you may prompt ChatGPT to “Write a sales script for my staff to use when they are selling.” You type this in and the tool spits out magic! But there is power in prompting, and, when done correctly, the results can be dramatically different. There are even people getting education in prompt engineering. Let me show you what I mean by using the example above.
Weak prompt: “Write a sales script for my staff to use when they are selling.”
Better prompt: “Write a sales script for my roof coating business. Please include a cold-reach-out call script, a cold-email template introducing our company, an inbound call script, a script helping us get an onsite appointment, a script once we are onsite, and a script to go over the proposal with the prospect.”
Keep in mind that this will not produce just a final outcome. You will want to use this as a jumping off point and keep refining it from there. What’s great about ChatGPT is that you can open up different chats (which isolates the topic) and, as you stay in that chat, the AI remembers and can draw upon information previously shared in that chat chain.
In this example, in the same chat chain, I could next prompt ChatGPT with the following: “Let me tell you about my roof coating company. We were started in 1984 by my father who was an Irish immigrant. He prided our company on great customer service, quality workmanship, and fair pricing. Please confirm you understand.”
It will send back an output that will most likely repeat what you just prompted. Then, you can prompt, “Please rewrite the sales scripts using the information I just shared.” BOOM! This chain of prompts will give a better, more customized result.
Another fun and potentially helpful feature of this tool is that you can include the tone or person you want the style of the information to be written in. For example, you could prompt ChatGPT to “Act like you’re a customer service representative with 20 years of experience. Write an email apologizing to [insert person’s name] for [insert situation details]. Offer to resolve the problem by [insert proposed resolution]. Write in a combination of professional, sincere, and apologetic tones.”
What AI Can Be Used For in Your Business
In addition to the previous examples of scripts and apology emails, AI can be used in a number of other ways. Here are some examples:
- business planning, marketing, and advertising
- customer support
- product/service development
- financial management
- human resources
- business writing
- time management
- legal compliance (note that this is not legal advice, it’s an idea)
- inventory management
- operating procedures
- human resources, and more.
If you want to see AI in action for sales management, try the following prompts in a single chat chain in ChatGPT:
Prompt 1: “Write an employment ad for a sales manager at [insert your company name]. Please list responsibilities, requirements, a ‘why join us’ section, and how to apply.”
Prompt 2: “Create a work calendar with daily tasks to keep my sales manager on task. His responsibilities include the following: [Cut and paste the responsibilities listed on the job posting from the first prompt].”
Prompt 3: “Create an agenda for a Monday morning sales team meeting.” (The first task on the daily work calendar from “Prompt 2” was a weekly kick-off meeting.)
Prompt 4: “Create a series of presentation slides for this sales meeting.”
Prompt 5: “What tasks should be performed for a sales manager to analyze sales data and performance metrics?” (The second task on the daily work calendar from “Prompt 2” was to analze sales data and performance metrics.)
You will be amazed by the output! And it will give you a great idea of how to start to use this tool effectively in other areas of your business.
But . . . AI Will Take Our Jobs
There is no doubt that AI will impact the future landscape of employment in the world. That said, AI shouldn’t scare you. There has always been an evolution in employment, and there always will be. We don’t see some professions that were visible a decade ago (e.g., brick-and-mortar travel agents).
There are other professions that you’ll see phase out before your very eyes. Cashiers, for example, are being replaced by self-check-out lines, although there still needs to be a human to help check our IDs or offer help when it’s needed. And then there are other professions that have been totally phased out by technological advancements. Think of the VCR repairmen, pinsetters at bowling alleys, and some assembly line workers. Evolution is inevitable.
Oftentimes, the key to making a paycheck is correlated to the value that you provide. Knowing and understanding AI platforms will make you extremely valuable on all sorts of fronts. By embracing these advancements, you should be able to do more work, with better quality, and at a wider scope or scale.
If you ignore these platforms as a way of doing business, I definitely think you will be replaced — maybe not by AI itself but by someone who better understands AI and can leverage it as a tool in his/her daily work practices.
Learn how to use AI to your advantage, and you will have the upper hand!
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the November 2023 print issue of CoatingsPro Magazine. Reprinted with permission.