A Year in Review and the Year Ahead: How Conversational AI Will Help Revenue Generating Teams
By Jim Kaskade

It’s a new year—and that means new opportunities and new challenges for our customers, our partners, and our Conversicans. All of which, I’m sure we will shoulder together so we can go further and faster towards better things.

I had an opportunity to talk to a few clients about 2020 after the New Year. One of our customers shared with me that they were able to avoid shutting down their business in 2020 because they adopted Conversica’s Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) to discover revenue opportunities which helped them weather the COVID-19 storm.

I’m sure this is just one example that reflects so many other unheard stories. Organizations and businesses that took years or even generations to build, only to lose everything in just a few months. It’s tragic—and to think about how much passion, investment, and potential were lost as these businesses shuttered.

Businesses had to reinvent themselves, which meant adopting new ways of doing business to match the needs of a digital-first world. This of course is Conversica’s key value proposition—the ability to digitally engage leads and customers to attract, acquire, and grow revenue opportunities. We enabled so many companies to pivot quickly to an all-digital world in 2020 and we will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond.

I want to take a moment to reflect on some of our accomplishments from this past year as well as some of my predictions for the year ahead.

What We Accomplished in 2020

As some may know, I’m a CEO that leads with culture and culture means people. I couldn’t be happier with how our people succeeded this past year. Our team stepped to the plate—across every business function—to deliver their best work.

Here are a few callouts:

  • Our Human Resources Team: Developed and launched our Nine Pillar Diversity and Inclusion Program, which includes offering free Augmented Workforce solutions for minority-owned businesses and charities supporting minority advancement.
  • Our Finance Team: Secured Series D Funding in August, leveraging the fact that we became profitable for the first time in our history (during one of the most difficult years to do so).
  • Our Product Marketing and Engineering Teams: Launched our Website Chat solution powered by our Intelligent Virtual Assistants.
  • Our Alliances Team: Announced our SugarCRM Integration, worked with Product Marketing and Engineering to launch our Fundraising AI Assistant, and fostered a number of new partnerships.
  • Our Sales Team: Helped us expand beyond our historic SMB focus to reach larger organizations, closing 12 great large enterprise logos in the first three quarters of 2020, and 13 large enterprise logos in Q4 alone, representing a significant growth trajectory for 2021.
  • Our Customer Success Team: Led our 2,000 customers through the COVID-19 pandemic, spearheading discounted and free services in an attempt to reduce its impact.
  • Our Marketing Team: Shifted away from in-person events to focus on digital events, webinars, and content to educate the market.
  • Our Legal and Security Teams: Helped us achieve SOC2 Type-2 Compliance.
  • Our Executive Team: Brought on a new Chief Financial Officer with Tim Driscoll and a new Chief Technology Officer with Mark Jancola.
  • Our Board: Named Elissa Fink to our Board of Directors.

For this and everything else our Conversicans accomplished this past year—Thank you!

What We Are Looking Forward to in 2021

The acceleration of a digital-first world will continue this year and we are ready to help our customers face it head-on with Conversational AI.

Conversational AI will be the only way to provide scalable personalized experiences for end-consumers throughout their digital lifecycle.

Conversational Marketing solutions help qualify leads and discover handraisers for the Sales team. Conversational Sales allows the digital team members to autonomously schedule meetings with prospects and make sure no lead falls through the cracks so Salespeople can focus on selling. Conversational Customer Success empowers organizations to prioritize customer retention and expansion at scale. And finally, Conversational Finance ensures that you can follow up with delinquent accounts politely and efficiently.

2021 will present significant changes for customer-facing teams:

Marketing Pivots to an All-Digital Strategy:

Since nearly all business interactions are now digital, Marketing organizations need a better way of determining which website visitors are “just looking” and which are ready to enter the sales cycle. A Marketing AI Assistant provides a way to actively touch every incoming lead to discover opportunities without putting additional strain on your staff.

Furthermore, Marketing AI Assistants go beyond simple, rules-based chatbots to deliver an omnichannel experience (email, SMS, and website chat) to engage leads where they are and continue the conversation through the customer journey.

So whether you capture a new lead from your online content, a webinar, or a virtual event, your Marketing AI Assistant will continue to qualify that lead until they are sales-ready.

Rise of the Digital Sales Force:

Sales Development, Inside Sales, and Field Sales teams are more distributed than ever as people are forced to work from home. Even when things “return to normal” it’s clear that this distributed workforce isn’t going anywhere as many organizations are already signaling that employees are encouraged to continue to work remotely.

How will technology play a role in this? To best equip the rise of the digital sales force, organizations must foster environments where business professionals and intelligent automation technologies can work together. This is what we call the Augmented Workforce.

Have your Sales AI Assistant follow up on inbound leads, and shift SDRs from inbound to outbound. Or for the more mature, have your Sales AI Assistant manage both your inbound and outbound activities, and shift your SDRs into Inside Sales Representative roles. You can even have your Sales AI Assistants cover your ISR activities, and focus your human workforce on the high-value sales opportunities.

Time to Shine, Customer Success Teams

This year, Customer Success holds the potential to become bigger than Sales or Marketing for businesses. We can study any SaaS company to understand this dynamic.

First, SaaS companies need to become Product-Led Growth (PLG) companies, meaning that, ideally, the product sells itself. While that sounds like a good thing (and it is), as companies succeed at doing this, there is a growing onus on Customer Success teams to proactively listen to their customers for suggested improvements and help them grow.

Second, SaaS organizations will need to focus on churn now more than ever due to the continued economic consequences of COVID-19. SaaS companies succeed because of their recurring revenue model. If they lose customers, they lose the driving force behind that model and need to spend more resources on finding new customers. It’s about time Customer Success is given the attention they deserve as a revenue generator. Yes, great products see less churn. But they are made great by monitoring customer health and meeting customer expectations. This requires Customer Success teams to lead the charge.

By leveraging the power of Conversational AI, revenue-generating teams will be able to do more of what they do best.

It’s going to be a big year. Are you ready for it?

– Jim