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. 

 

169 Call Center Powered by a Virtual Agent 2

Call Center Powered by a Virtual Agent 2

 

The prior briefing introduced Call Center Chat Powered by a Virtual Agent. This briefing continues that discussion. 

 

“Digital chats” or “chatbots” have emerged and promises to help resolve some of the troubling issues in call center operations. These can conduct virtual “conversations” through the exchange of a series of messages with the customer. 

 

Innovative customer service organizations are now implementing an Intelligent Virtual Agent that can learn from the experience gained in prior interactions with customers and accumulate more knowledge through every succeeding customer conversation. It will even be able to think and respond faster than a minimally trained human CSR! 

 

Here is how the virtual agent can augment call center operations:

Level 1—Basic Chat Conversations: For initial basic chat conversations, the virtual agent can gather information, answer simple to moderately complex questions, and determine when or if it is necessary to escalate the conversation to a human CSR. 

Level 2—Moderate Problem Solving: More in-depth chat conversations should be handled by a human CSR who will diagnose the issue, answer more complex questions, and satisfactorily resolve the issue. Or if it’s not possible to resolve, then AI can recommend escalating the issue. 

Level 3—Research and Diagnosis: The CSR might need to perform research to get to the root of the issue. AI technology could be used to augment the investigation, help diagnose the problem, then provide potential answers based on prior experiences in solving such problems.

 

The innovations that AI technology can deliver have the potential to result in higher call center productivity, as a greater percentage of issues can be resolved during the first interaction and more highly skilled CSRs are better utilized. 

 

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

 

168 Call Center Chat Powered by a Virtual Agent 1

Call Center Chat Powered by a Virtual Agent 1

 

Call center operations are used by companies to provide support for their customers. Conversations between a customer service representative (CSR) and the customer are initiated and involve answering basic and detailed questions in an attempt to resolve customer issues. 

 

Call centers are notorious for having problems in resolving issues and satisfying the customer, which presents a real problem for sales organizations: the main reason for their existence is problematic when the call center is not able to provide the necessary service. Here’s why. 

  1. Call center operations often suffer from high staff turnover.
  2. Call centers are repeatedly staffed by employees with little experience in the business. Entry-level employees are frequently deployed to work with customers to field calls and have direct conversations about topics they are not trained to handle. It’s hard to believe that workers on the front lines in communicating with customers are the least-experienced. 
  3. New CSRs often follow scripts to guide their responses through the overall interaction with the customer. This can be difficult, as conversations can easily veer off script and inexperienced CSRs give inaccurate information. 
  4. Call center operations are habitually outsourced, and the CSR on the other end of the conversation might be from an area of the world where the dialect is not readily understandable to the customer. 

 

Meanwhile, customers just want correct answers and quick resolution of their issues. 

 

All these factors could negatively impact customer loyalty. That’s why, a company’s call center operations increasingly rely on message-based “chat” sessions where the customer invokes an online session on the company’s website then corresponds with a CSR via messages until either the issue is resolved, the CSR recommends follow-up actions, or the customer ends the session.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on Call Center Chat Powered by a Virtual Agent in the next briefing. 

 

167 Potent Analytical Tools for the Sales Manager 2

Potent Analytical Tools for the Sales Manager 2

 

The prior briefing introduced the power of Analytical tools for the Sales Manager. This briefing continues that discussion. 

 

After examining how her sales team is performing at a high level, Susan, the Sales Manager, leverages the power of Data Analytics to perform in her role more effectively.

 

Susan had two large deals on her sales forecast. Both were deemed must-win to achieve her quarterly revenue commitment. She drilled into her analytical dashboard and the following stood out: 

 

Deal 1 

– Had 2 remaining milestone steps to win

– the forecast accuracy/credibility of the sales rep was HIGH 

– Deal velocity was HIGH

– Business value agreed to by customer = SOLID

– Strong Sponsor with power

Recommended Action (from the Analytics):

– Raise win probability to 80%

 

Deal 2

– Had 4 remaining milestone steps to win

– the forecast accuracy/credibility of the sales rep was LOW 

– Deal velocity was LOW

– Weak Sponsor without much power

Recommended Action (from the Analytics):

– Lower win probability to 20%

 

On the surface, these two deals appeared to be nearly equal. But after analytical review, they were shown to be very different. Susan was able to gain a greater understanding about each deal. She took the proper steps to recommend how to advance Deal 1; she advised on the best strategy for getting Deal 2 back on track; and she was able to reset expectations by reporting a more accurate forecast to her management.

All this was possible by leveraging Data Analytics to generate valuable insights for Susan and her 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.