Martin is the vice president of sales at Conversica, with 20 years of experience in sales. Conversica does conversational artificial intelligence for B2B and B2C.
Artificial intelligence is a series of algorithms that are statistical models looking to repeat tasks or transactions that happen on a routine basis.
Anti-lock brakes are a great example of AI. Many years ago, drivers were taught to pump the brakes when stopping to avoid having your car’s brakes lock up. ABS actually pumps the brakes for you. It’s a repetitive task that doesn’t require a human being.
In the business world, there are tasks that you don’t need to pay a human to do. The technology is artificial in the sense that it’s manmade. It’s intelligent because it can learn from its errors as well as from training models.
There are countless applications of AI in the sales space. AI can create a transcript of this conversation, evaluate past performance to predict the future and conversational AI which can handle some of the routine follow-up emails or tasks that happen in the sales process.
The ATM is a great example of the balance possible with AI. Thirty years ago, people stood in line at the bank to deposit checks or handle transactions.
When the ATM emerged, people feared that it would take jobs from bank tellers, and for a while it probably did.
Now, though, there are still tellers in banks, but many of those tellers became loan officers or financial advisors. There are actually more people in banks today than there were before the ATM.
ATMs removed some jobs but it allowed the creation of better jobs.
The means of operating evolves.
The number one task that all sales managers want their people to do but which sales reps hate doing is logging their activities in their CRM.
Those tasks are important but they are boring. If you don’t record your activity as you go, it stacks up on you.
It’s a mundane task that is automated now.
Think, too, about the follow-up of a lead. Leads are the most important thing marketing can give you. If you try to craft an email to 10 leads, eventually you end up doing copy and paste.
AI can help you create inviting messaging and engage the human that responds until the human rep can respond.
Transcription tools also help sales managers provide coaching to their team members. It can help with re-education and help to highlight the best parts of what your team is doing.
The next piece of AI is finding like-minded customers.
No matter how messy your databases, AI can look at your past wins and evaluate your current databases and identify those who are more likely to buy your products and services and engage with your company overall.
It’s one thing to find customers, but it’s another thing to keep customers and grow your customer base. You always want to make sure you’re talking to the right people.
AI can give you hard data about the conversations you’ve had that you can use to back up your efforts because human beings aren’t really good at assessing the subtleties of a changing market.
Big companies are like battleships and small companies are like speedboats. Small companies can be rocked by waves that can swamp the boat really quickly. Large companies can weather the waves better. AI can move an organization that is so large it doesn’t really feel the impact of smaller changes.
Understanding the customer
There are AI tools that help you understand your customers based upon what is in the news, and AI tools that help you track when it’s time to connect with your customer.
AI can make your time with your customer much more impactful.
Sales reps can also use AI to help with upselling to help you recognize when your customer is ready to engage in the buying cycle and to identify which customers are the best ones for you.
The best customers are the ones who have already bought from you before because you’ve overcome their initial fear and developed the relationship. They know what it’s like to deal with your products and services.
Conversica works in a traditional format as a revenue-generating tool for both sales and marketing. It’s engaging inbound leads and following up with leads.
It also provides the ability to engage with partner leads.
Conversica uses AI to identify upsell opportunities and to make sure customers meet their quarterly needs. The finance team uses it to help with collections.
Everywhere they can automate the conversational experience, Conversica uses AI.
Companies haven’t completely embraced AI for a couple of reasons.
No one has really thought about the technology and how it applies to their business. As a follow-on, there’s a great fear of the unknown.
Computers and phones once changed the dynamics of the work world by automating tasks.
Companies must have a roadmap of where they want to get and how AI can help them accomplish that. Failure to map out a plan will fall behind the competition. Those that do create a roadmap will be anywhere from 7 to 10 times more profitable.
Fear is fully understandable. Human beings resist change even though it happens all the time.
Adopt AI wisely. Find the areas where AI might serve you well. Set realistic expectations.
AI is a series of statistical algorithms made by people and trained by people. AI isn’t infallible.
It also won’t solve every problem your company has so don’t expect it to be a perfect cure. Along the way, you’ll uncover processes that are broken or struggles you didn’t realize existed.
AI isn’t a Hail Mary approach, but be willing to embrace change. It always happens.
Be totally, passionately into your customers. Understand their business and you’ll learn to recognize change before it actually happens.
“Increase Sales Faster Using AI” episode resources
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