How AI-based chatbots are enriching sales engagements

How AI-based chatbots are enriching marketing and sales engagements

Conversations are breathing new life into sales engagements. As we grow increasingly digital in our approach to customer engagement, this trend is set to evolve in the coming years. This is why companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Uber are all investing in AI-based chatbots that act as effective user and sales engagement agents, capable of manning customer and user touch points around the clock.

Today, sales teams are drowning in data and things aren’t getting any easier. Every online hour generates ever more subtle hints at prospects’ propensity to purchase – the first to pick up on the scent of a sale gets the spoils. Yet, research tells us that over 55% of online sales enquiries go unanswered for over 5 days, while only 5% are responded to within 5 minutes. Herein lies the problem in effective lead qualification.

Yet, AI can help make every sales engagement mean something for both brands and customers. Chatbots are helping brands turn dismal sales figures around by engaging leads in a range of ways. In a sales context, chatbots can interact with new leads by asking key questions to immediately start qualifying them.

They can do this 24/7 without ever tiring, needing to take lunch or get distracted. Further, funneling lead data generated from chatbots into a CRM system enriches it beyond what any sales team ever can.

Chatbots’ many applications are fuelling adoption

Chatbots have made the transition from being used on websites to integrating with major chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. This means chatbots are able to spark conversations with target audiences while they use their favourite messaging platforms, which has opened the world of bots to billions of active subscribers using messaging platforms on a daily basis.

1–800-Flowers’ venture into the world of AI and bots saw the floral business use a natural language-based chatbot through Facebook Messenger to take orders from customers. Surprisingly, the company discovered that 70% of its Messenger orders come from new customers engaging with their Facebook bot. The flower company also learnt that the majority of new customers were from younger age groups, who didn’t fall within their typical market segment.

Winnie, a chatbot that helps first time, small business owners find ideal hosting providers for their websites, also launched on Messenger in 2016. The bot recorded over 70% CTR with users who followed its recommendations for service providers. Winnie guides prospects through the process with questions like “Are you looking to launch a new website or move an existing one to a new host?” or “Tell me about the type of website you want to launch”. Winnie will also find the providers with the best recommendations and match pricing for users.

Software giant, Salesforce, has embraced the technology and opened its platform for chatbot developers. Its users now engage with a wide range of bots to enrich sales engagements by making product suggestions, answer questions, take orders, update product news and interact with millions of people on a daily basis. Even accounting software giant Sage is using its chatbot, Pegg, to help small business owners manage their budgets via Skype or Messenger.

What chatbots mean for marketing and sales teams

A chatbot could easily answer lead or customer queries about certain products or services, guide customers through product upgrades, provide content or connect a warm lead with a salesperson. With AI and machine learning’s evolution on an accelerated track, chatbots’ ability to match human conversations are making them increasingly useful to sales and marketing teams.

With each lead or customer talking to a virtual company representative one-to-one, fewer opportunities will be wasted to convert prospects, upsell to customers and contextualise engagements. Chatbots are capable of smoothly transferring conversations to an actual human and also pick up from previous engagements with leads or customers. These features make them incredibly useful for adding value at every customer touch point and feeding more quality leads through the pipeline.

2020:The year of the chatbot

We’re set to see an array of interesting applications of the technology in the coming years as the chatbot ecosystem widens and adoption increases. It’s projected that 80% of businesses will use chatbots for marketing, sales and other areas of business by 2020. And as customers demand instant engagement from brands, the race to be the first to meet the customer at the door is on. According to Gartner, the future will see people increasingly interact with bots and not even be aware of it as the technology becomes more “human” in its engagements.

Of course, the question arises whether bots will replace human salespeople. Not likely. However, the opportunities for businesses to radically improve their lead and customer engagements do exist. By eliminating the need for salespeople to man every conceivable touchpoint, and instead use the insights derived from bot-driven engagements, these clever bots will, in fact, simplify the sales process for humans.

Synoptica’s lead qualification technology platform helps sales teams build better acquisition strategies through the lens of AI. As leaders in the AI/Sales space, we’re excited about the way new advancements in the digital realm are changing the way companies connect with their brands. To learn more about how platform is changing conversations, contact us today.