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Sales Strategy
The Robots Are Coming! How AI will Change Sales
Sep 5, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

In 2017 and beyond, AI (AKA Artificial Intelligence) is set to dramatically change sales and we’re not being overly dramatic when we say, “The robots are coming!”

While the idea of AI being used by sales teams for collating and analysing data for research and prospecting might not seem too much of a stretch, it’s tempting to regard the idea of actual robots in the sales process as fanciful, but in fact it’s reality.  Robots, Chatbots and AI are coming to improve customer experience in an industry near you. Here’s how...

Retail Sales - Meet Pepper

If you happen to be in Tokyo and head into a Softbank Mobile Store, it’s likely you’ll meet Pepper. Pepper is a 4ft tall robot who uses facial recognition capabilities and an enormous wealth of cloud-based information to answer your questions. She can detect whether the conversation is going well or enquire whether or not you are finding her answers helpful. Pepper’s been in Japan for years now and in November 2016, she made her North American debut in two malls in California. While it’s unlikely that Pepper is going to replace sales associates in stores any time soon, she is certainly set to change retail sales.

Adept at answering questions, there are many ways retailers could make use of her to improve customer experience. She could be positioned at an endcap to answer questions about a featured product. She could be programmed to help customers identify where in store they should be looking for a particular type of garment or product based on what their priorities are. Similarly, she’d be able to direct you towards items in your price range or make product suggestions based on item specs and your needs.

Chatbots

Chatbots are being used to improve customer experience in online commerce and B2B sales.  Earlier this year, Drift (the company behind LeadBot) conducted research on B2B response time to web-based enquiries. They found that 93% of companies are not responding in the recommended five minutes or less. And that in fact, 55% of companies took longer than 5 days to respond.  This despite the fact that according to InsideSales, the odds of connecting with a lead if they are called within five minutes are 100 times higher vs. one called in 30 minutes. While the odds of qualifying a lead if called in five minutes are 21 times higher than if called after 30 minutes.

AI and chatbots are dramatically changing a business’ capacity to respond to online enquiries quickly and improve the customer experience. Using a messaging platform, similar to what many users are already familiar with through Facebook messenger etc, chatbots engage customers, answer basic questions, qualify leads and escalate them to a human member of the team.

Meaning, when your sales reps receive leads, they can respond quickly in an informed manner. Importantly, they are engaging with the prospect while they are actively seeking help and service, not days later when they are busy with something else.

So it seems some of the robots have already arrived… If you are not already using chatbots in your sales strategy, then it seems that shortly you will.

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