If Kleiner-Perkins’ investment of $125M in Intercom is any indication, sales force automation is a sector of business technology that shows vibrant activity and plenty of room for growth.
Sales force automation, sometimes referred to as sales automation, is technology that automates business tasks such as processing orders, tracking customer relationships and their journey, controlling inventory, and forecasting sales performance. CRM software falls under this umbrella, but there are cutting-edge developments happening in related sales processes as well. Every business process can be optimized, but it’s going to take a lot of innovation from many different players to take sales to the next level of automation.
Sales and business processes are at a crucial moment of transformation. Companies are shedding outdated technology in favor of predictive, prescriptive, and personalized processes. A recent Gartner report claims that we’re on the cusp of the third wave of sales force automation. This third wave was preceded by client/server systems, which evolved into the Web 2.0 and API-based sales systems we’re familiar with today.
While legacy sales systems provided a narrow customer profile, often no more informative than a name and phone number, the internet age lets organizations leverage huge swaths of data to provide a lifelike customer profile that facilitates sales. This third wave of sales force automation -according to Gartner – will entail algorithmic sales automation via predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, and artificial intelligence.
Customer relationship management tools such as Salesforce, Intercom, and Oracle provide a centralized system through which to track data, but every component of the sales pipeline can be optimized, and that work often requires tailor-made algorithms specific to a given company’s data. Those algorithms can be built to automate a whole subset of processes including lead management, price configuration, partner relationship tracking, sales productivity, and sales enablement tools that increase the synergy and productivity of sales and marketing teams.
For example, at RapportBoost.AI, we focus on optimizing the language of live chat sales agents to boost revenue and conversions. By offloading data from our customers’ chat platforms and CRM systems, and building customized AI models, we’re able to augment the intelligence of live chat agents by telling them exactly how and what to say to get the best results.
Cogito and Gong.io are also deploying technologies that automate sales, but operate in the voice and call center space. Cogito uses vocal detection to give sales agents real-time advice on how to adapt their behavior to elicit the best feedback from customers, and Gong.io transcribes sales calls and analyzes their content to let front-line agents know what’s working in their favor. Intercom provides messaging and inbox services for online companies, both generating targeted, timed correspondences to leads and routing responses to the appropriate sales and marketing contacts in an organization.
Thanks to data scientists, researchers, and the brightest minds in tech, algorithms are getting smart enough to handle routine tasks that used to be done by humans. But different jobs require different skills, and some are more intrinsically human than others – particularly those that require empathy, emotional intelligence, and social interaction. Because of this, we can expect automation to have a heterogeneous effect on the different sectors that make up the global workforce. comprise the sales pipeline among other aspects of the service sector. A recent article published by Gartner shared some insights relevant to RapportBoost.AI in the areas of AI, automation, and sales:
Through 2022, multichannel retailer efforts to replace sales associates through AI will prove unsuccessful, although cashier and operational jobs will be disrupted.
We’re well aware that bots are nowhere near being developed enough to handle customer interactions. From Facebook’s famous bot fail to Tech Republic’s latest pronouncement that chatbots are dead, it took just about a year to generate sufficient evidence to show that keeping a human-in-the-loop is a far better strategy than trying to replace them. The empathy and emotional understanding humans instinctively employ is crucial to sales interactions with both customers and agents.
In 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.
AI can augment the capabilities of salespeople and live chat agents, freeing up time for them to carry out the processes that are quintessentially human. Whether this means removing time limits from customer interactions, developing crucial partnerships, or communicating information with marketing and training departments, the third wave of sales force automation will allow salespeople to flourish, bringing customers along with them.
The third wave of sales force automation is picking up speed. For a helpful discovery conversation about providing augmented intelligence for your live chat team, contact us today!