Small Businesses Lead AI Adoption in Sales and Marketing


Pipedrive has released its annual State of Sales and Marketing Report for 2023/2024, revealing interesting trends in AI adoption across businesses of various sizes. The study shows that small businesses, particularly those with 10 or fewer employees, are at the forefront of AI adoption, with 42% using AI tools. In contrast, medium-sized businesses (11-100 employees) and large companies (over 100 employees) report lower usage rates of 37% and 23%, respectively.

For the fifth consecutive year, Pipedrive surveyed salespeople, founders, and CEOs to compile a comprehensive report on industry trends over the past 12 months. Despite economic challenges and a rapidly changing business environment, sales professionals are increasingly embracing AI technology while retaining essential social and technical skills like connecting with customers and responding to their needs.

The report highlights key areas where sales teams are investing, the impact of automated tools on team functions, and customer relationships. It includes detailed analyses of performance, digitization in sales and marketing, and overall sales trends. New sections this year focus on workplace wellbeing, women in the workplace, and overall gender diversity and inclusivity.

“This past year has been unprecedented, marked by economic challenges and breakthroughs in AI technology. As we stand on the verge of a new era, we have already seen AI-driven innovations boosting business growth with remarkable accuracy and efficiency,” said Pipedrive CEO Dominic Allon. “Our latest Sales and Marketing report, based on insights from sales professionals, founders, and CEOs, highlights the resilience and adaptability of sales teams across industries. Despite the rise of AI, the importance of human relationships, value-based selling, and other essential skills remains paramount in the industry. We hope this report provides actionable insights and inspires you to leverage technology for your business success.”

The report also revealed that sales performance improved significantly in 2023, with 71% of salespeople regularly meeting their quotas, a 19-percentage point increase from 2022. Interestingly, the survey found that working additional hours did not correlate with better results, as those who worked more were 10% less likely to hit their targets.

Small Businesses Leading AI Adoption

AI tools are widely used, with every third respondent in the survey utilizing them. However, small businesses show the highest adoption rates, likely due to their need for time-saving solutions. Larger companies seem to require more time to adopt and integrate new tools. Overall, 38% of all respondents indicated that AI will have the largest impact on their work in the future.

The majority (76%) of respondents are optimistic about AI’s future role in supporting their professional activities. Concerns about AI causing team reductions are minimal, with only 8% expressing such fears. Looking ahead, an overwhelming majority (83%) of respondents believe AI will play a role in business but not replace areas where the human factor is key.

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Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.