Warning: Chatbots Will Replace Salespeople…But That’s a Good Thing.
“Salespeople are great, I wish I had twice as many to manage.” Said no Sales Director ever. Don’t get me wrong, good work out of the sales organisation is paramount to your business success. But getting that work to be consistent, accurate and near every salesperson’s capacity is a literal nightmare. Thankfully, we’re at a point in time where we can take away some of this pain through Conversational AI. But before you fire your entire sales team, here’s how to go about employing a bot to improve your sales from tricky to smooth sailing…
What kind of selling can a chatbot actually do?
As it stands today, bots are great for “taking orders”. Every day they’re improving, so the trick is to get in now to capitalise on the ever-expanding capability. Current examples are:
- A front-end conversational tool for an existing e-commerce website. This will be useful in making purchases on the fly, answering FAQs, and maybe just having a good old chinwag if your customers are feeling lonely. AI will also use your customer’s purchase history to give accurate suggestions, like Amazon or Netflix.
- A ‘route manager’. The bot reaches out to customers on a predetermined cycle i.e. when there’s a special on.
- Cross-selling. You know your customers right? At the very least you’ll know what they buy from you right now. And you know what you currently sell, so simply offer them some of your other stuff. If you’ve invested in analytics and maybe even have some existing AI, you’ll know that similar customers are likely to buy other similar things from you. So make those offers!
The key thing to understand now; it’s the transactional selling that is appropriate for the bot to take over today. Give it a couple of years and it may be more relationship-based selling, but it starts with the simple and/or repetitive.
Establish the most appropriate channel.
As it stands today, at Ambit, we’re deploying chatbots for text-based interaction only. We’re experimenting with voice, but the recognition isn’t quite there for the Niew Zilland accent as yet (over time it will be.) For now, the focus should be on text chat. So how can we get this into customers’ hands? In simple terms, your choice is to either stick with a web-based bot (imagine a “chat to us” pop-up in your browser), or deploy it on one of the messaging platforms — ala Messenger, Skype, Whatsapp etc. We’ll write more on this soon but at this stage, the logic is; if you’re a B2B business, stick with business tools — Slack and Skype for business and web. If you’re B2C, then get onto Facebook my friends! Especially if you have a strong presence there already.
How to get started
There are a few options available for you. In simple terms, it’s the old bottom-up or top-down options.
- Work out where the money comes from. Apply Pareto’s (the 80/20 guy) thinking to establish where 80% of your revenue comes from. It’s highly likely to be from 20% of your customers. Then give the other 80% of the customers to the bot. Boom!
- Time and motion study — look at where your salespeople spend their time. Consider the tasks undertaken and how much value is added in relation to the time spent. There’s a 100% likelihood that some low-level tasks, primed for automation, are occupying 10–20% of an expensive resource’s time. Imagine the revenue flow-on of giving back that much time to your reps! Plus, chatbots are almost infinitely scalable, so the more salespeople you have, the more you’re likely to save.
- Map out a customer journey as you’d like it to be, based upon a workshop/journey mapping/CX approach. This is a big picture “imagine what’s possible” perspective. We advocate design thinking, and well, this is a key part of what we do at Ambit!
Once you have a clear grasp of all three, you are ready to deploy a chatbot. At Ambit, we’ll help you do exactly that. Our best-of-breed chatbot platform will make you wish you never spent so much time managing that wannabe Jordan Belfort salesman. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.
We’ll be following up with more weekly content, so follow our LinkedIn page to get updates here :)