A collaborative blog post with contributions from Michael Hanson, VP of Marketing at CloudTask – CloudTask is a managed workforce provider for growing companies looking for B2B Sales, Sales Chat and Customer Support solutions. Their mission is to find prospects, nurture leads, close deals, and satisfy customers, to enable businesses to reach their goals.
The length of a sales cycle, though it varies greatly by industry and whether your business is B2C or B2B, is a great indicator of the efficiency of your Sales team.
But it’s not just important to keep the length of your sales cycle tight. It’s also important to provide a personalized experience to prospects and clients throughout the process. While your employees are essential to building relationships with prospective customers, technologies like Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) can help companies boost their speed and efficiency throughout the sales process.
From helping to funnel prospects, to answering pressing questions 24/7 and following up over months and months of email tag, AI-driven technologies like an IVA isn’t a substitute for human involvement – it’s an important tool that augments your Sales team to create a more efficient process and generate more leads.
The Growth and Power of AI
With Intelligent Virtual Assistants, we’re not talking about broken experiences and confusing workflows. AI technology has advanced rapidly in the last few years, so much so that it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference between a “real” person and AI. In fact, 27 percent of consumers weren’t sure if their last customer service interaction was with a person or if it was actually AI.
It’s not a fad either. According to Finance Digest, by 2025 AI will power 95 percent of all customer interactions.
The best thing about an Intelligent Virtual Assistant? It can be personalized for your business so that you’re automating responses that make sense, reflect your values, and describe your products. At the same time, by using an IVA you can update your database, contact numbers and names, and automate the scheduling of meetings with your Sales team.
#1 – Intelligent Virtual Assistants Find Prospects, Fast
Think about the power of an IVA. It can follow up on dead and ancient leads, with a trigger for example, if they have not been spoken to in a year. These are leads that previously no Salesperson would have touched that you’re giving yourself another shot at, with outreach that if the AI is set up correctly, appears to be personalized.
AI is, therefore, working as a member of your Sales team digging up old leads that previously would have fallen through the cracks. Through email, social media, webchat and more, with no employee involvement, an IVA generates interested prospects.
And here’s the best part: AI is able to learn with every interaction so that it can become more efficient at keeping potential clients engaged and getting prospects through the door.
#2 – Qualify Prospects and Schedule Meetings Quickly With Intelligent Virtual Assistants
When it comes to Sales, there’s nothing worse than a dead end. An Intelligent Virtual Assistant can help speed up the process of making sure prospects are actually qualified with a series of simple questions—the most important of which is “are you interested in speaking with a Salesperson?”. By incorporating these questions seamlessly within a conversation, an Intelligent Virtual Assistant can decide whether or not it’s worth your time to set up an appointment with someone else in the sales department. This would be helpful enough, but AI technology doesn’t just stop there.
By taking the role of a digital assistant, an IVA can schedule prospect meetings on behalf of your sales team. And this is key: Sales reps only spend 36 percent of their time actually selling. The rest of that time goes towards non-sales activities like admin work, scheduling meetings, doing paperwork, and answering emails. An IVA takes this burden away from your team so they can focus on what they do best—sell.
#3 – Intelligent Virtual Assistants Help Present Your Product and Answer Questions
Though your qualified Sales team will still need to maintain a vast amount of knowledge about your products and services, an IVA can help speed up this part of the process exponentially. First of all, an AI Assistant can help keep a consumer engaged with an email or SMS message, eventually encouraging them to download a guide or free eBook that breaks down your service. This way, by the time a prospective client gets to the sales team, they already have a great base of knowledge about the product.
For some companies, the “objections” part of the sales cycle is the longest and the most laborious. Prospective clients want to make sure they’re getting the best solutions for their business or home, and will often generate additional questions about the product during the process. So, what do you do when your client has a question on a weekend? Or late at night?
Without a customer-facing AI solution in place, a simple question can take days to resolve. With AI ready and able to answer questions quickly, the sales cycle can be greatly reduced. This 24/7 availability of an Intelligent Virtual Assistant is one of its greatest perks.
And if you don’t think AI can answer questions effectively, think again. With support, AI effectively answered up to 80 percent of commonly-asked Tier 1 support questions. Similar results are beginning to be seen in Sales, Marketing and Customer Success.
#4 – Closing Deals and Beyond
As digital engagement becomes more and more mainstream with technological advances and changing consumer expectations, an IVA can shorten the sales cycle by allowing your customers to ask crucial questions immediately to make those decisions quicker – and then actually finish the sale online.
However, it’s a mistake to think that the sales cycle ends with a sale. You can leverage an IVA for:
- Follow-up – By using AI-generated emails or SMS messages, your team can easily get in touch with customers after the deal is closed to ensure that they’re enjoying the product, ask if they have any questions, and further the relationship.
- Easy referrals – 90 percent of consumers still believe brand recommendations from people they respect. By harnessing an IVA, you can encourage your customers to leave reviews, share their experience on social media, and reach out to friends and family about the product to drive sales.
If you’ve harnessed the power of an Intelligent Virtual Assistant throughout the process, you’ve not only sped up the sales cycle from finding prospects to closing the deal – you’ve also impressed your clients with a streamlined, efficient, and proactive outreach.
#5 – More Available Time for Your Employees Means More Results
When it comes to the power of an Augmented Workforce in which people and AI technologies work in tandem, teams improve day-to-day operations and find time to brainstorm. More employee brainpower and creativity means streamlining processes, improving team culture, and speeding up the sales cycle with ingenuity.
Over 30 percent of business execs say that the time freed up from using digital assistants allows them to focus on deep thinking and creating. If your company is spending too much time with lower-level processes, then it’s going to be incredibly difficult to break free of that cycle and brainstorm new, creative ideas. By using artificial intelligence to take on lower-level tasks, your team won’t just be able to spend more time answering higher-level questions or managing high-level prospects, they can devote more time to thinking of creative solutions to speed up your processes.
And AI’s analytical prowess can show your team exactly where you need to streamline processes. Machine learning capabilities nurture a treasure trove of data about your prospective clients. Who’s clicking on your site? What are the demographics of engagement? What’s working and not working with every step of your process? How do you improve on every level?
An IVA Enhances, Improves and Shortens Every Aspect of Your Sales Cycle
When you consider the way intelligent automation and Intelligent Virtual Assistants impact every stage of the sales cycle, it’s clear how seamlessly it works with your Sales team.
- By answering easy questions, an Intelligent Virtual Assistant frees up your best Salespeople to focus on the tougher questions.
- By engaging with people who are just looking for some more information, AI can turn people into prospects – moving them to the next step of the process.
- By reaching out to old leads via email or SMS, an IVA can re-engage.
Artificial intelligence isn’t about less person-to-person interactions. It’s about increasing the impact of those personalized interactions by managing small details, gathering data, and providing key administrative support.
Learn how you can leverage an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to manageably scale your Sales team without increasing your sales quota by requesting a demo today.