174 The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine 2

The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine 2

 

While the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine (SAM) is not yet fully available, it represents the culmination of advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies being integrated to produce the ultimate sales professional—a machine with the power to automate and transform the sales cycle in ways never before seen or thought possible. 

 

This Is SAM’s Way: How the Technology Works

SAM is a fully featured agent that will transform automated selling into a reality. In addition to automating significant steps in the sales cycle, SAM will also augment many of the routine tasks previously performed by human sales professionals and serve as their smart advisor. SAM get smarter with each customer interaction. 

 

Here are examples of SAM capabilities and how its underlying high-tech functions can be leveraged.

 

The Ability to Access a Gold Mine of Valuable Data

SAM will become as smart as possible by ingesting all types of enterprise data as a basis for applied knowledge. For SAM to operate at a high level, a “feed the beast” mentality dominates. 

HOW: To be effective, SAM requires a high volume and high variety of data. This data is stored in databases (memory banks) for future recall, and includes data about customers, the selling organization, sales teams, and prior customer interactions. 

 

Smart Communication

SAM interacts directly with the customer by conducting conversations through multiple channels, including voice, text, chat, and video. 

HOW: SAM will utilize Smart Communication methods to interact with customers by: 

– Referencing a combination of approved scripts, rules, and policies. 

– Parsing unstructured text information (documents, messages, chats) and deriving meaning and intent. 

– Applying Data Analytics to each element of the conversation to score the importance, the tone, and the resulting best actions to take.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine in the next briefing. 

 

173 The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine-1

The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine 1

 

Before long, it will be possible to unleash the power of AI to automate the selling function for tasks previously performed by human salespeople. 

Imagine a set of interactions between a customer named Pam and a sales professional named Sam. After cordial introductions, Pam asks about the solutions available from Sam’s company. Sam quickly relates a customer success story that is applicable to Pam’s business. Then, Sam redirects the discussion toward discovering the business issues Pam needs to address. Sam and Pam jointly complete a survey that works through a set of questions and statements to document the current state of Pam’s company’s business and articulate the primary business issues to be addressed. 

 

After further discovery discussions, Sam’s team formulates a solution that will address Pam’s business issues with a focus on generating significant business value. 

 

Pam then issues a list of requirements that will be sent to multiple suppliers. Sam works through the requirements list, highlighting the areas where Sam’s solution has extensive competitive differentiators and describes where each capability will deliver unique business value to Pam’s company.

 

Sam then uses the resources and data available in their CRM to build a proposal. The proposal includes a selection of related video customer testimonials that serve as excellent success stories. 

 

After several interactions, Pam’s team selects the solution from Sam’s team, negotiations are completed, contracts are signed, and purchase orders are issued. Sam’s team celebrates with Pam’s team on their mutual success.  

 

This scenario presents typical interactions between a seller and a customer for the steps involved in advancing through a sales cycle. But there is something unique and unexpected about the sales professional in this case:

 

Sam is NOT a human sales professional—SAM is a 

Virtual Sales Advisor Machine. 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine in the next briefing. 

 

172 Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant 2

Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant 2

 

The prior briefing introduced the Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant. This briefing continues that discussion. 

 

Here’s how the Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant can augment inside sales operations.

 

Survey the Customer: Initial interactions can be handled by the Virtual Sales Assistant. This will involve a survey using a virtual conversation to establish customer need, determine how well customer requirements fit your solution offerings, and match the customer profile against other customers who have successfully utilized the solution. 

 

Solution Selector: the Virtual Sales Assistant can determine potential solution options that fit the customer’s stated requirements. These can be presented in a list or set of alternatives (such as good, better, best). 

 

Solution Configuration: the Virtual Sales Assistant can determine the configuration that will work best for the customer. This could involve specific characteristics of the solutions based on customer profile and considering what similar customers have experienced. 

 

Solution Pricing Quote: the Virtual Sales Assistant can calculate pricing for the selected solution and produce a quote. At this point, the Virtual Sales Assistant can communicate the benefits of your solution and provide details on how your solution stacks up favorably against those of your competitors. 

 

AI technology will enable Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistants to make more informed decisions. They will increasingly be able to 

  • score the potential opportunity
  • present preferred options and recommendations
  • communicate to the customer a compelling reason to purchase

These enhanced abilities will handle more of the tasks that are currently completed by human inside sales teams. Of course, there will still be a need for inside sales staff, but inside salespeople will be more highly trained and specialized in their ability to advance the customer through the sales cycle. 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on how AI will transform the sales profession, check out my book at my website thetechseller.com. 

 

171 Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant 1

Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant 1

 

New “sales assistant” applications are now available to guide the customer through interactions that can automate or augment the inside sales functions. These applications begin the process by having the customer complete a survey; the customer selects predefined choices and options to indicate an elementary set of preferences. The automated sales assistant can then compare specific product configurations, evaluate alternatives based on the customer’s stated preferences, reduce the choices to a reasonable set of options, provide pricing, and point the customer to more in-depth information such as web links and instructional videos to help the customer better understand solution capabilities. 

 

For simpler solutions, these sales assistant applications can help a customer narrow down their choices and guide them to a relatively small set of options they can compare based on their desired features, functions, and price points. 

 

For complex solutions, these applications will help a customer gain an elementary understanding of solution capability that usually leads to further discussion with a human salesperson.

 

The Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant

Based on the technology of the “sales assistant” application discussed, an Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant will be able to handle chat conversations with customers and make informed decisions about whether an inside sales team should be used or if field sales reps need to get involved. Powered by Artificial Intelligence functions, the Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant will learn from the experience gained in prior interactions and will accumulate more knowledge through every subsequent customer conversation. It will even be able to think and respond with recommended actions faster than a human salesperson. 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Intelligent Virtual Sales Assistant in the next briefing. 

 

170 Powering Inside Sales Automation

Powering Inside Sales Automation 

 

Inside sales teams can serve as valuable resources for the sales organization. The responsibilities of the inside sales team depend on several factors: 1) how customers are engaged; 2) how solutions are sold; and 3) the distribution of which solutions can be sold by inside sales versus outside field sales teams. 

 

Here are two different scenarios for the inside sales team: 

 

Scenario 1: The inside sales team executes the entire sales cycle and operates as the entire sales team where solutions are sold without face-to-face involvement with a customer. The team completes sales transactions for specific solutions, customer accounts, and deal sizes. 

 

Scenario 2: The inside sales team augments the field sales team efforts in situations like the following: 

– The inside sales team could focus on lead generation by calling prospective customers or executing marketing campaigns. 

– The inside sales team engages in initial communications with the customer to perform initial qualification, answer basic to moderately complex questions, and send appropriate solution information. 

– When a lead is qualified, the inside sales team passes the lead on to the field sales team, who assumes responsibility for advancing the opportunity.

– The inside sales team could still perform specific steps in the sales cycle, such as preparing quotes, assembling paperwork, and processing orders. 

 

In these scenarios, the inside sales function is an area where automation could increase the productivity of the sales operation by either reducing the number of people needed to staff the inside sales functions or elevating the skill sets required to be more effective in the inside sales team.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on how AI will transform the sales profession, check out my book at my website thetechseller.com.