The promise (and challenges) of chatbots and AI for sales
2016 was the year of the chatbots and the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) technology — but since then, the progress hasn’t stopped there. As we observe what’s happening now and what’s planned for the future, the possibilities appear to be endless. According to Venturebeat, “Social media platforms like Facebook allowed developers to create a chatbot for their brand or service so that consumers could carry out some of their daily actions from within their messaging platform. This development of AI technology has excited everyone, as the possibilities for the way we communicate with brands have been exponentially expanded.” Even Gartner says that “AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application.”
What Hasn’t Worked with the First Chatbots for Sales
Of course, as with any new technology, there have been obstacles along the way. Despite the massive outbreak of bot technology, many of the chatbots we’ve seen today are too focused on being “info retrievers” — only serving the purpose of providing information when prompted by the user. This repetitive formula forces people to go through a frustrating cycle of trial and error to learn what the bot can and can’t do. Facebook, for example, has scaled back its ambitions for AI bots after hitting a 70 percent failure rate. Facebook engineers are now focusing on "training [Messenger] based on a narrower set of cases so users aren't disappointed by the limitations of automation."
This presents a unique challenge for salespeople who are using enterprise software and bot technology — it’s easy to ask a bot what the weather is, but it’s hard to ask one what deals they should focus on. Since every CRM system is set up differently, each bot command needs to be expertly tailored to show only the relevant information, and that customization is no trivial task. Overall, it can lead to a frustrating experience if the information isn’t exactly what the user is looking for.
Overcoming the Frustrating Chatbot Experience
At Clari, we realized that there are two essential characteristics a chatbot must have, in order to provide an effective and resourceful chatbot experience for sales:
1. Talking with a chatbot should be a conversation, not a one-way street. Chatbots can’t just play fetch; they need to push insightful information to salespeople, not force them to figure out how to ask for it.
2. There should be 0 end-user setup needed. Sales reps and managers expect a chatbot to already speak their language and know what’s important. At Clari, we have over four years of in-the-trenches experience of how to serve up the most important deals a salesperson is working on.
When combined effectively, a chatbot can directly improve the opportunity-to-close (OTC) process, optimize sales execution, and help sales teams close deals, faster.
Using ClariBot, sales reps, first-line managers and execs can accomplish multiple tasks without the limitations of automation. For instance, ClariBot can automatically track sales reps’ customer emails and meetings, and suggest which accounts need to be followed up on. Sales reps can also get suggestions for which accounts should be pulled into the current quarter in order to bolster their pipeline.
Secondly, first-line managers will receive notifications of key meetings and track all customer meetings that reps have. By leveraging our people graph, we will be able to tell the difference between a standard standing meeting and a meeting with strategic stakeholders. ClariBot can notify managers of the latter, even for deals they may not be paying attention to. ClariBot will also help first-line managers analyze the pipeline strength of each individual and point out which regions, individual reps, and individual deals are at risk for the quarter.
Want to Learn More?
Learn more about all the ways ClariBot technology can help your sales team overcome sales execution challenges and improve the opportunity-to-close (OTC) process. Attend our upcoming webinar, on March 23rd, 10am - 10:45am PST, and get back the confidence you need to close deals and forecast!