Conversational AI Has Changed B2B Sales

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A guest blog on AI for customer experience by Michael Hanson, VP of Marketing at CloudTask

AI for customer experienceA key component to any successful B2B company is a strong salesforce because they deliver the product or service into the prospects’ hands.

Unfortunately, any salesforce has its limits. Businesses can only afford to pay a limited number of sales professionals who can only work a certain number of hours a day.

But what if this was not the case? What if a business could have an unlimited number of sales associates who could work around the clock?

This is a scenario that conversational AI is enabling – it lets businesses use AI for customer experience.

What Is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI is about the creation of automated data output in response to a user’s data input. In terms of B2B sales, it’s an automated response to a prospect’s actions in an effort to move them through the sales funnel, most commonly through a chatbot.

A prospect visits your company website, app, or social media page. There is then chat functionality available that they can use to get guidance on the company, product or service. Alternatively, a chatbot initiates ‘conversation’ based on certain actions, whether it’s simply the user visiting the website or clicking on a specific offering or promotion.

Bear in mind that not all chatbots are created equal. Some are very simplistic and can only perform certain functions such as capturing contact details. Great chatbots are a different story. They incorporate machine learning and other technologies to recognize data and react effectively.

This is accomplished in two parts. The first part is all about understanding user intent and then responding quickly, effectively and appropriately. The second part is all about the ability to improve interactions over time.

How Conversational AI Can Benefit B2B Sales

When a B2B sales team has conversational AI at their fingertips, their efforts are magnified. And while a chatbot will never replace a sales team, it can supplement and enable them to become more effective in their jobs.

The following provides a sample of the benefits that B2B sales teams are currently seeing by implementing conversational AI on their websites and social platforms.

1. Developing A Perfect Sales Funnel

When sales professionals are interacting with prospects, they don’t track and analyze every conversation they’ve had. They follow a sales formula that they have either been taught, learned through sales training, or perfected over time. When sales aren’t coming through, they make adjustments through trial and error with new techniques. Conversational AI does something similar, except it’s much better at it.

Chatbots can digest every aspect of an interaction, and then through machine learning, they get better. Additionally, the B2B company is able to see the timeline of every interaction. They can pinpoint crucial turning points and then use those to improve the sales funnel, reprogramming any adjustments into the conversational AI. In the end, they will optimize the sales funnel in a way that not only increases sales but also speeds up the sales process.

2. More Leads

Historically, website visitors have been just that—Visitors. Occasionally a company will develop a lead magnet, such as an ebook or whitepaper, that is valuable enough for some visitors to provide their name and email. Without AI for customer experience, the visitors often slip through the cracks.

Conversational AI can change this. By being readily available with information, rather than simply offering a form that is sent into the void and then responded to within 48 hours, businesses can provide visitors with information when and where they want it. This often turns a visitor into an actionable lead that a sales professional can pursue.

3. Cost Reduction

While there is an initial investment and ongoing cost in conversational AI, this does drop with time as once you have it optimized as there are then only small tweaks to make to enhance performance. More importantly, it allows businesses to reduce costs in other areas. For instance, when a new product or service is released and an initial sales burst is needed, not as many supplementary sales professionals need to be hired.

Conversational AI also lowers costs when it comes to lead acquisition. Instead of having to invest in outside sources for leads, the company can rely on more in-house data.

4. A Personalized Experience

People expect more from the businesses that they buy from. Leveraging AI for customer experience creates the seamless interaction customers want – an experience that makes them feel heard and valued. Chatbots allow this in two ways. The first is that chatbots are developing the potential to provide human-like interactions.

The second way is that chatbots take care of low-value tasks, which take up a lot of time. They can provide answers to general questions and offer information. These duties take up time, and when that time is freed up, the sales team is free to pursue higher value work, including perfecting the customer experience.

5. Mix It With Humans for Maximum Impact

Conversational AI can do a lot of things, but it is clearly incomplete without humans-in-the-loop. Humans need to ensure a seamless experience from start to finish and be there to analyze and optimize performance. Humans work with machine learning in order to create the optimal customer experience.

Crucially, they also need to be there to step in when a web visitor or prospect doesn’t want to speak with a bot or receive an automated message. However amazing AI technology is these days, some people just don’t like it. Some prospects’ questions will require a fully human response and some brands have a long history of supporting human to human relationships.

The key to AI for customer experience is to find the perfect harmony between Conversational AI and humans. Great live chat training goes a long way to achieving this.

Furthermore, a brilliant way to achieve seamless AI for customer experience is utilizing an experienced managed team who understand the power of bots and humans combined. After all, it could grow your pipeline by over $1 million dollars in just Q1 2018 alone.

There’s So Much Potential Out There

B2B businesses have a lot to gain from conversational AI, not only in sales, but also in customer service, marketing, and a handful of other areas. The key to success with this technology is partnering with the right conversational AI service and knowing how to fully utilize its potential.

Michael Hanson is VP of Marketing at CloudTask, a managed service provider for growing companies looking for B2B Sales, Sales Chat and Customer Support solutions. Their mission is to find prospects, nurture leads and satisfy customers, to enable you to focus on what they do best.

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David Oates

About David Oates

David Oates is a 20-year marketing and public relations veteran who holds extensive experience in developing as well as executing successful and measurable programs for a wide range of agency, high tech, corporate and government organizations. He is an accredited public relations (APR) expert affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America, and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Operation Homefront, California as well as on the Board of Directors for Rotary Club of San Diego. David has worked with Tony since 2001 in numerous capacities such as a non profit Board supporting veterans. He received his MBA from San Diego State University’s Executive Program in 2004 and his bachelors of arts from the University of Maryland in 1991. David was named among the 2009 “40 under 40” list of top professionals by the San Diego Metropolitan.