How Our Conversational AI Platform Personalizes Your Marketing Efforts


Today at Conversica, we celebrated another technology milestone and delivered advanced new capabilities to the Conversica AI platform which powers the millions of front-office conversations between people and AI Assistants.These capabilities give business users even more freedom and flexibility to personalize their AI-powered conversations with prospects and customers while still benefiting from the hundreds of proven pre-built conversations that allow Conversica’s AI Assistants to be productive from day one.

Users of this newly released version will benefit from a completely reimagined Conversation Editor, expanded conversation library and added visualizations of conversation flows. These easier-to-use interfaces and additional controls over the Conversica AI platform allows business users to focus more precisely on the purpose of each conversation they wish to deploy while Conversica’s data science and engineering teams make sure the conversations result in faster time to value and greater outcomes.

New Customer Success AI Assistant Tutorial for Conversation Editor
In a tutorial on our Conversation Editor page, Melia Spath, a Senior Customer Success Manager at Conversica, shows how Conversica’s Customer Success AI Assistant helps with account retention, scheduling reviews and up-selling to current customers. Malia also demonstrates how easy it is to set up a fresh campaign using our next-generation Conversation editor. She shows how to map a conversation to the UPSELL/CROSS-SELL Skill within our Customer Success AI Assistant to target any customer that may be right for an upgrade including how to easily navigate to the Conversation tab in the Conversica environment, select the UPSELL/CROSS SELL feature, map a new conversation, add an ID, change the status to active, and view the exchanges with your AI Assistant.

New Sales AI Assistant Tutorial for Conversation Editor
In another tutorial on our Conversation Editor page, Breanna Wilson, a Customer Success Team Lead at Conversica, shows another example of the flexibility of Conversation Editor within the Conversica Sales AI Assistant. Customers across a variety of industries use the Conversica Sales AI Assistant to drive engagement, schedule appointments and create opportunity pipeline. In this tutorial, Breanna shows how to create a new campaign using the SALES / ATTEMPTED CONTACTS conversation. This is part of the ACTIVATE Unresponsive Demand Skill which is a conversation designed to reach out to contacts or leads where a sales rep has attempted to make a connection but has been unsuccessful.

This is a great example of how to drive leads to receive information, work toward scheduling a meeting or branch into other conversations based on a lead response. For example, if they respond and say they are not the right person, the AI Assistant will ask who they should connect with instead and automatically take action to update the CRM system and notify the correct salesperson.

More Flexibility and Personalization with Our Conversational AI Platform
Conversica puts more flexibility in the hands of business users by enabling them to design and deploy intelligent, customer-focused AI conversations in response to dynamic business conditions without involving IT departments. The company automates the routine, tedious but important interactions and tasks, thus, freeing business people to do the higher value work they enjoy and together driving toward better business outcomes.

At Conversica, we are driving toward a future where every business person has an Intelligent Virtual Assistant.

You can read the full press release detailing these new product capabilities here.

5 Ways an Intelligent Virtual Assistant Shortens Your Sales Cycle

Shortens Your Sales Cycle
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.

Understanding Your Sales Cycle

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 in Sales

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.

5 Ways an IVA Shortens Your Sales Cycle

#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.

 

Align Sales and Marketing to Achieve Company Goals

In a bylined article today in Digital Enterprise, Conversica CMO Rashmi Vittal shares some results from a recent survey we commissioned. The research results from this survey on Sales and Marketing alignment indicate that alignment between these teams is lacking. However, in her article, Vittal offers tips for how Sales and Marketing organizations can bring these disciplines together to meet shared goals.

Collaboration is Key

People are one of the most important business assets, but no one is an island. Organizations must enable collaboration between their people and among their teams. Only by enabling collaboration can these organizations facilitate the exceptional teamwork that is found at the best companies.

Cross-functional collaboration in particular is important. Different people and groups come to the table with complementary skills, and when organizations bring together those talents to create effective strategies and processes, everybody wins.

Tight Sales and Marketing Alignment Brings Increased Performance

When considering the relationship between Sales and Marketing, when tight alignment is found between these two groups, businesses excel in performance. Fortunately, both Sales and Marketing teams at many businesses have a deep desire to be aligned. Conversica’s recent survey results illustrate this. A fair share of respondents view their Sales or Marketing counterparts as partners.

  • 54% recognize their need for people and teams in the other discipline.
  • 50% know Sales and Marketing are working toward the same company goals.
  • 38% in Marketing said there’s perfect synergy between Marketing and Sales.
  • But only 27% of the Sales folks see things that way.

The Challenge with Aligning Sales and Marketing

While the above numbers indicate some Sales and Marketing team members are very optimistic about cross-function alignment, the numbers also state that many others are clearly not.

  • 68% of Sales said relationships with Marketing are good but could be better.

The results of this Conversica commissioned survey indicate that the main source of the tension between Sales and Marketing involves timing. Many view Marketing as more strategic and focused on the future, while Sales people are sometimes described as lacking an adequate attention span. The survey suggests that Sales people care more about the here and now than do their Marketing peers.

These stats behind points are further broken down below:

  • 58% of Sales respondents said the top cross-function tension is timing
  • 33% of Marketing staff members agreed
  • 25% of Marketing people said Marketers are more strategic

The Solution

What can executives do to help their teams work together to achieve company goals? The answer starts with building trust and opening channels of communication to foster greater collaboration and transparency. Failure to meet targets is a shared responsibility, and team members from both sales and marketing – or any other departments, for that matter – must understand that.

When businesses establish processes and tools to build trusted relationships among Sales and Marketing, they enable such understanding. That can translate into building better relationships and experiences for prospects and customers. In fact, we’ve seen that solutions based on AI, like Conversica Conversational AI Assistants can help Sales and Marketing teams align cohesively.

  • 93% of Sales people and 87% of Marketers felt AI can help improve relationships between these teams.
  • 57% of Marketing pros said AI already has made working with Sales better.

AI Assistants can help improve Sales and Marketing relationships in the following ways:

  • Relieve the tension between Marketing and Sales because 100% of leads are followed-up in a two-way, personalized, human-like conversation.
  • Identify Marketing funnel “hand-raisers” faster and those at risk of abandoning before it’s too late.
  • Take on a significant portion of the routine, but important, repetitive tasks that come with lead follow-up, freeing Marketing to focus on delivering excellent experiences and freeing Sales to focus on building trusted, high-value relationships with prospects.
  • Make both Sales and Marketing departments more efficient and effective.
  • Improve morale on both Sales and Marketing teams.

Read Conversica CMO Rashmi Vittal’s full byline article in Digital Enterprise.

 

2019 Predictions: Conversica Partners Predict Sales & Marketing Trends for 2019

In follow-up to our 2019 Predictions webinar, we asked some of our partners to share their predictions for 2019. Conversica Partner Marketing and Sales leaders and C-Level team members at IMPACT, LeanData, Metadata, SnapApp, Uberflip, Vengresso and Vidyard share their top Sales and Marketing trends and predictions for this coming year.

Metadata

Gil Allouche, CEO, Metadata

I think marketers will break the status quo in 2019 by implementing 3 tactics:

  • Break the silos between their marketing automation technologies : every marketing tool is a public API that allows marketers to free their data from those tools into one place to see it all. No more switching around between tools.
  • Optimize their marketing operations and campaigns based  on real business KPIs (pipeline) vs vanity metrics (eg email opens, impressions). With technologies like Bizible from marketo or Datorama from Salesforce.
  • Leverage agile marketing and experimentation (vs waterfall approach) for everything digital marketing campaigns  —— this is the biggest one. So far marketing has been done in a manual form, testing only 3-4% of what’s possible. Using experimentation technology  (eg metadata.io) companies can (without hiring a single more person) go through thousands of different combinations and iterations to hone in on what exact campaigns work best for them. 

IMPACT 

Vin Gaeta, Director of Strategic Partnerships, IMPACT

For 2019 marketers trying to break the status quo, my belief is they’ll be changing how they approach content and the buyer journey by focusing on more video for human to human marketing and selling. To further that, my hope is they don’t shy away from the sometimes “scary” questions that always get asked – but rarely get answered (when they really should). Things like pricing, honest comparisons between their company and their competitors, and quite frankly why the prospect would find value in what they offer – rather than only talking about themselves (which is shockingly still a trend).

SnapApp

Seth Lieberman, CEO, SnapApp

“Marketers are going to blow up their lead gated content models in 2019.  They don’t work for anyone, not the prospect, not the marketer, and definitely not sales.”

“It will take all of 2019, but it will be the year that marks the tipping point where content marketing becomes just marketing.”

Vidyard

Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing, Vidyard

“2019 will see a big shift in how marketers use tools like video, chat and conversational content to build more authentic relationships and to personalize the customer experience. Gated white papers and clickbait will be replaced with un-gated videos and conversational chatbots to align with the shifting expectations of today’s buyers, offering new opportunities to expand reach and build human connections with audiences at scale.”

LeanData

Asher Mathew, VP Business Development, LeanData

Today’s customer wants, and demands, a personal – and even intimate – focus on nurturing the relationship. As a result, marketing strategies for innovative companies will revolve around what I like to call the 3 Cs: conversation, clarity and commitment. Let’s have a one-on-one conversation with our prospects to find out what they want, let’s provide clarity on what they need versus what they think they want, and then let’s get a commitment from the provider and the prospect to work together to meet joint goals and all-around success.

2019 will be the year in which marketers will use any and all data and technologies to search for the context to have the right conversation that will convert a prospect to a client or customer. Just like a hot referral vs. a warm or cool referral, this super-targeted approach adds immediate value because it shortens the time in the pipeline and enables more meaningful connections.

Uberflip

Randy Frisch, CMO, President & Cofounder, Uberflip

Personalization

  • In 2019, marketers will lean on content experience platforms to help them leverage intent data to serve the right content to each unique visitor at the right time. Consumers spend their downtime enjoying the hyper-personalized experiences of Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon and have come to expect this level of personalization when making B2B purchases too. Buyers’ expectations have evolved, and we have to give them a lot more than a one-size-fits-all experience if we want them to engage with us.

Focus on the experience

  • When content marketing first came to be, marketers neglected to think ahead and look at what they were actually going to do with all the content they were creating. Now, creation is only the first step in an organization’s investment in content. In 2019, marketers will place a heavier focus on creating content experiences that are designed to convert.

Vengresso

Bernie Borges, CMO, Vengresso

In 2019, marketers must stop thinking about marketing as the domain of their department – or their logo – and rather look to empower the sales staff to be trained and brand-compliant brand ambassadors. Marketers who think that salespeople don’t want to be marketers have asked the wrong question. Don’t ask sales if they want to be an extension of marketing? Ask Sales if they want content and the training and tools to share content with their buyers to start more sales conversations. Marketing in a silo doesn’t work in the connected age. See LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2018 report: “62% of decision makers look for an informed LinkedIn profile when considering working with a salesperson.” If Marketing doesn’t enable “an informed LinkedIn profile” they’re not doing one of the most needed things a salesperson needs from Marketing. After all, Marketing exists to help enable Sales as much as possible.

Want to see more AI predictions for 2019? Watch our fireside chat 2019 Predictions: 10 Ways Conversational AI Will Change The Way We Work.

Blog: 2019 Predictions – 10 Ways Conversational AI Will Change The Way We Work

By Rashmi Vittal, Conversica CMO

Last year, we saw the proliferation of AI-assisted technologies in our everyday life, from self-driving cars, to healthcare, to digital voice assistants in our homes.

But what can we expect to see for AI in the new year? In a recent fire-side chat, I sat down with Conversica CEO Alex Terry and Chief Scientist Sid J. Reddy to hear their predictions for the evolution of AI this year. Each of these Conversica AI leaders shared their forecasts for AI as it relates to B2B Marketing and Sales in 2019. We’ve captured some of the key points shared in our fireside chat in this blog. 

AI then and now

“A couple of predictions I have for 2019 is that you’ll see more powerful implementations of conversational AI, and more companies adopt AI in multiple departments,” said Terry.

We may just be at the start of 2019, but we are already seeing some of these predictions come true. According to Statista, 84% of enterprises believe that investing in AI applications will create a competitive advantage, while 75% believe that AI applications will create new business opportunities. While there are many applications of AI, one that is gaining a lot of traction is conversational AI.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational AI is the technology that enables people and computers to communicate with each other in a natural, two-way conversation. Some emerging use cases include chatbots that handle customer service requests, a virtual assistant that answers HR benefit questions, or a marketing AI assistant that sifts through thousands of leads to understand which people might be interested in your products and goods.

At Conversica, our flagship AI Sales Assistant helps companies create new revenue streams from their customers and generate more revenue. Last year, we released the AI Customer Success Assistant, which focuses on cross-selling and up-selling to increase retention and customer satisfaction. The release of the Customer Success Assistant aligns with a major AI trend we’re seeing now – companies implementing AI technologies in different departments.

Augmenting your workforce with AI

One of the key trends we’re already experiencing is marketers augmenting their workforce, giving their team the best tools to be successful. What is important to note is that AI isn’t replacing marketers, but rather helping them to do their jobs more effectively.

In marketing and sales, there’s a lot of routine work. Whether your lead is at the top of the funnel or close to closing, much of the work revolving around reaching out, engaging, and following up with leads can be automated. Conversational AI technology has come a long way in recent years, enabling humans and computers to have two-way conversations that feel more natural. More importantly, these conversations are personalized to the individual’s needs and solve real business problems.

We see 100% coverage on our inbound leads. We have assurance that all those leads are getting followed up on — not only consistently, but in a relevant, personalized manner that drives great customer experience.

Virtual assistants are getting smarter

The ability for virtual assistants to progress from that simplistic kind of chatbot experience to being able to handle complex conversations will be key for 2019. People want to interact with a smart assistant – and part of being smart is having the memory of past interactions with and understanding the context to move conversations forward.

Reddy spoke about some of the exciting advances in a new field of AI, called affective AI, or emotionally intelligent AI. He sees affective AI becoming a major theme in conversational AI to help interpret the emotional intent of the user. Whether it’s joy, sarcasm, humor, or something else, being able to determine the tone and intonation will further enable AI assistants to deliver personalized experiences and drive results.

Want to see more AI predictions for 2019? Watch our fireside chat 2019 Predictions: 10 Ways Conversational AI Will Change The Way We Work.