When you think of AI, you may be conjuring images of autonomous robots taking over the world.
Fortunately, there’s a long way to go before that happens. But AI already plays a big part in our lives, whether we realize it or not.
Have you ever gotten a ride from Uber or Lyft? Browsed recommendations on Netflix? Or checked your Facebook newsfeed? These types of personalized experiences are just a few examples of AI-powered technology.
With the staggering amount of online data being collected, many companies are already leveraging artificial intelligence to understand customer behavior and preferences.
But what exactly is AI?
Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science that enables machines to imitate intelligent human behavior. In other words, AI deals with solving problems or carrying out tasks that are typically easy for humans, but are difficult for computers.
Machine Learning and AI are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. According to Tech Republic, “Machine learning is one subfield of AI. The core principle here is that machines take data and “learn” for themselves.”
So, while AI is the broad term for the technology that enables machines to simulate the things that humans do, machine learning focuses on receiving and adapting to new information, essentially becoming “smarter” as time goes on.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is another subfield within Artificial Intelligence that deals with the computer’s ability to understand and interpret human language the way that it is written or spoken.”
A simple example of NLP technology is Google Search. When you misspell a word, Google responds with, “Did you mean ….?” Other examples of NLP include Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.
These types of AI technologies serve many purposes, one being to provide a number of companies across different industries with a competitive edge in sales. Rather than tasking salespeople with following up on each lead, AI is automating the process of engaging and qualifying leads.
So, what can AI do for sales?
When email or text message are the mode of communication for initial outreach and follow up, AI-powered sales enablement software, in the form of an automated sales assistant, can engage the lead with a personalized message and ‘understand’ responses, in order to execute a two-way, human-like conversation.
For example, the assistant knows to follow up with a lead who sends an “out of office” email the day after that person returns to the office. Requests to “check back” in a month, quarter, or even the following summer can also be accommodated.
The virtual assistant also obtains important information such as phone number, best time to call, and purchase requirements, and automatically enters this information into the company’s CRM or sales automation software.
If the prospect expresses interest, the lead is then handed off to a salesperson in a friendly and polite manner.
The impact of AI on sales
Automating the process of following up and engaging leads, frees salespeople from having to manually reach out to every lead that comes their way. Rather than spending time on back-and-forth messages to determine a prospect’s level of interest, AI software can take care of this usually mundane and repetitive task.
Studies show that only 27% of leads ever get contacted. Whether this is due to lack of time, sales resources, or a combination of the two, AI-powered assistants can help salespeople work smarter, by empowering them to focus on leads who are genuinely interested and are therefore more likely to convert.
There is no question that sales will continue to be about building human relationships. But how that will be accomplished will undoubtedly change as AI technologies automate the initial step of connecting with and engaging leads.
Today’s post is by guest author Helena Chen, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Conversica, the leader in AI-powered business conversations and the only provider of AI-driven lead engagement software for marketing and sales organizations