In 2023, generative AI technologies have taken the world by storm. Popular tools like Midjourney, ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Bard can effortlessly produce original content in various formats. And, individuals from diverse backgrounds are witnessing the true power of AI firsthand and pondering how artificial intelligence will shape our future. It becomes increasingly apparent that these transformative tools will soon be essential to stay competitive in our respective fields.
Recently, I’ve leveraged ChatGPT to assist with my business development efforts. I’ll share several tactics I’ve found highly effective in harnessing AI for business development.
General Tips for Using ChatGPT
To start, here are a few general tips for using ChatGPT, so you can get the most out of the tool no matter what you’re using it for.
Verify responses. It’s important not to assume all the responses you get from ChatGPT are entirely accurate or truthful. As a generative technology, ChatGPT generates responses based on patterns learned from the internet. However, not all online information is reliable. It’s always a good practice to fact-check the answers provided by ChatGPT to ensure their accuracy.
Start a new chat for each topic. When working on a new topic, start a fresh chat or continue from a previous chat related to that specific topic. ChatGPT gains context from the ongoing conversation, and this context helps it generate more relevant responses. However, remember that the context doesn’t carry over between separate chats or conversations.
Provide relevant information. To help ChatGPT craft more suitable responses, seed the conversation with a brief description of your current work or project. Include any pertinent details such as your role, company, target business or industry, and any specific expertise you have. Providing relevant information helps ChatGPT better understand the context and deliver tailored responses.
Be aware of data limitations. It’s important to note that ChatGPT doesn’t have access to up-to-date information. The responses it generates are based on a large language model trained with internet data up until September 2021. Any events or information that occurred after that time will be unknown to ChatGPT. Remember this limitation, and ensure you supplement it with the most recent and accurate information.
AI for Business Development: Market Research Assistance
I’ve discovered ChatGPT can be incredibly helpful for conducting various types of business development research. You’ll see that showcased in the sections below. A conventional Google search provides similar information. But, often that involves sifting through unwanted content, ads, sponsored links, and more before finding the desired information. ChatGPT eliminates all that and delivers the precise answers you need. It’s like talking to an extremely knowledgeable friend who can address any question you pose!
In some cases, I need to explore an industry I don’t know well. For instance, I may want to learn who the biggest players in that industry are. You can ask something like this:
“Who are the biggest innovators in the fintech industry? Constrain your answer to companies based in the United States.”
In the fintech industry, several companies based in the United States have emerged as prominent innovators. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some notable examples:
Stripe: Stripe is a technology company that provides payment processing and infrastructure solutions. It offers a suite of developer-friendly APIs and tools that allow businesses to accept and manage online payments securely and efficiently.
Square: Square is known for its point-of-sale solutions, including hardware and software products for businesses of all sizes. They have expanded into other financial services such as peer-to-peer payments, lending, and small business banking.
PayPal: PayPal is a digital payments company that offers a range of services, including online money transfers, merchant services, and mobile payments. It has become a widely accepted and trusted payment platform for individuals and businesses globally
Localized Market Research
In addition to industry focus, I may want to further constrain a response to a particular city or region. You can ask questions like this:
“Based on revenue, what are the top 3 publicly traded logistics companies based in the greater Chicago area?”
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, I can provide you with information on some of the top logistics companies based in the greater Chicago area. However, please note that the revenue rankings may have changed since then. Here are three notable publicly traded logistics companies based in the greater Chicago area:
C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (CHRW): C.H. Robinson is a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest third-party logistics providers globally. Although their headquarters are in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, they have a significant presence in the Chicago area. In 2020, their annual revenue was approximately $15 billion.
Echo Global Logistics, Inc. (ECHO): Echo Global Logistics, headquartered in Chicago, is a technology-enabled transportation management company. They offer a wide range of logistics services, including transportation brokerage, supply chain management, and intermodal services. In 2020, their annual revenue was around $2.1 billion.
Hub Group, Inc. (HUBG): Hub Group is a transportation management company based in Oak Brook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. They provide intermodal, truckload, and logistics services to various industries. In 2020, their annual revenue was approximately $3.7 billion.
As you can see, the tool reminds us the response is based on the information it had in late 2021. Remember that when validating the responses.
Companies typically don’t talk about their competitors on their websites. However, it helps to understand how a company compares to its competitors. Say you’re meeting with someone from Stripe. You may want to ask them what they’re doing to stay competitive with recent innovations from Paypal. ChatGPT can help prepare you for that conversation.
Example prompt: “I work for a custom software consultancy. I’m trying to develop business with Stripe. As such, I’d like to know who their biggest competitors are and what differentiates them.”
Stripe operates in the competitive field of online payment processing and fintech. [caveat about September 2021 cutoff]. Here are some of Stripe’s major competitors and their differentiating factors:
PayPal: As one of the most well-known names in online payments, PayPal offers a range of payment solutions for individuals and businesses. They provide a user-friendly interface, a strong global presence, and integration options with various e-commerce platforms. While PayPal has a broader focus that includes peer-to-peer transactions and online marketplace payments, Stripe has gained popularity for its developer-friendly tools and APIs that allow businesses to create customized payment solutions.
Adyen: Adyen is a Dutch payment platform that provides end-to-end payment processing services. They offer a unified platform that combines payment processing, risk management, and online cashier services. Adyen differentiates itself by providing a single payment solution for multiple sales channels and multiple payment methods across the globe, aiming to simplify the complexity of international payments for businesses.
Drilling down further, ChatGPT can help you learn about the products a company sells and how they generate revenue.
Example prompt: “What are 3M’s top 3 products in terms of units sold”?
…3M is a diversified multinational conglomerate with a wide range of products across various industries. While I cannot provide real-time data on their current top-selling products in terms of units sold, I can mention three of 3M’s historically significant and widely recognized products:
Post-it Notes: Post-it Notes, introduced by 3M in 1980, have become an iconic office and stationery product worldwide. These self-adhesive notes are used for jotting down reminders, messages, and quick notes, and they come in various sizes, colors, and formats.
Scotch Tape: Scotch Tape is one of 3M’s most well-known adhesive tape products. First introduced in the 1930s, Scotch Tape is widely used for wrapping gifts, sealing packages, and various other everyday applications. It is available in different types, including transparent, matte finish, and double-sided adhesive.
Sandpaper: 3M’s sandpaper products have been widely used in the automotive, construction, and woodworking industries. With their durable abrasive surfaces, 3M’s sandpapers are designed for various sanding applications, such as smoothing surfaces, removing paint or rust, and preparing materials for finishing.
AI for Business Development: Job and Role Research Assistance
Networking is a significant component of business development. Whenever I go into a meeting with someone for the first time, I like to know as much about them as possible. Doing so helps me feel confident I’ll be asking relevant questions and coming off as an informed person. I’ve found ChatGPT can be a huge help in this regard, in particular with learning about unfamiliar roles. For example, I might ask something like:
“I have a meeting today with the director of operations at a large software product company. What are the primary responsibilities of that person? How does that role generally differ from a COO? What organizational metrics do they typically care about?”
The primary responsibilities of a Director of Operations at a large software product company typically include:
Operational Strategy: The Director of Operations is responsible for developing and implementing operational strategies aligned with the company’s goals. They work closely with the executive team to establish operational objectives and initiatives, ensuring efficient and effective processes across the organization.
Process Optimization: This role involves identifying opportunities for process improvement and implementing streamlined methodologies to enhance operational efficiency. The Director of Operations collaborates with cross-functional teams to analyze workflows, eliminate bottlenecks, and drive continuous improvement efforts.
Resource Allocation: The Director of Operations manages the allocation of resources, including personnel, equipment, and budget, to ensure optimal utilization and productivity. They may oversee workforce planning, capacity management, and resource allocation decisions to support the company’s strategic objectives.
Regarding the difference between a Director of Operations and a Chief Operating Officer (COO), the COO typically holds a more senior leadership position. While the roles can vary across companies, the COO generally has broader responsibilities and oversees the entire operational aspect of the organization. The COO often works directly with the CEO to set the company’s strategic direction and focuses on high-level decision-making, resource management, and overall operational performance.
The specific organizational metrics that a Director of Operations typically cares about can vary depending on the company and its goals. However, common metrics may include:
Cost Efficiency: Tracking and optimizing operational costs, such as labor, materials, and overhead expenses, to improve profitability and resource utilization.
Quality Metrics: Monitoring product quality, defect rates, customer complaints, and other relevant quality indicators to ensure high standards and customer satisfaction.
Delivery and Timeliness: Tracking on-time delivery metrics, lead times, and cycle times to ensure products or services are delivered within specified timelines.
As you can see, with minimal effort, you can get a decent high-level overview of nearly any job or role. You can then ask follow-up questions like, “What are some examples of challenges related to resource management?” if you want to learn more.
AI for Business Development: Communication Crafting
Finally, business development often involves a lot of communication, whether that’s communication leading up to a meeting, social media content, thank-you notes, or any other type of communication. ChatGPT can provide an excellent starting point.
Here are some example prompts:
- “Help me ask my friend Jason for an intro to his former colleague, Bob.”
- “Write a thank you note to Jason for making that intro to Bob.”
- “Write a LinkedIn post, two paragraphs only, about the similarities between networking and dating.”
- “Write a two-paragraph summary of my company based on the content on this webpage: http://…”
These are some tactics I’ve used to make life easier and have more success in business development. I’ve learned quickly that ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can save a lot of time. However, I’ve also learned to be careful with the results it provides and not accept every output as truth. In several cases, I’ve caught it fabricating names of businesses out of thin air. It also made claims about businesses that I couldn’t find any references to back up. Always verify the responses it gives you if accuracy is important in your context.
If you’re using AI for business development efforts, please share in the comments!