We are in one of the biggest growth spurts of digital technology ever. Each day, more and more tools, apps, artificial intelligence, and electronics are introduced to automate daily life and make our routines easier. As technology increases, so does the sophistication and knowledge of consumers. This has quickly turned the sales environment into a buyers market.
The availability of automated tools for buyers, like instant chatbots for immediate product information, is at an all-time high. This is shortening the sales cycles at a never-before-seen rate. By the time a consumer speaks with a sales agent now, they are already at least half-way through the sales cycle. Decision makers now have more information available to them instantly about everything they could and would want to know about your product or service
New technology in this buyer’s market is disrupting sales development for the good. It is allowing consumers to make more informed purchases that provide for long-term satisfaction and it is freeing up sales reps to focus on what is important.
By removing the complexity from the traditional sales process and allowing reps to focus more of their valuable time on having quality conversations, new technology is poised to help sales teams become more efficient than ever before.
The two biggest pieces of technology in this buyer’s market that continue to evolve are chatbots and review sites. Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots are helping to automate the sales process to improve efficiency. This is being done by enabling sales teams to grow leads with laser-focused intention, reduce administrative tasks, and shortening the sales time to close. Review sites are connecting people with other buyers who are just like them, have purchased your product, and can give an informed report on how it can offer a solution to a need or problem in the market (or not!).
Let’s dive into more about the chatbots and review sites and we’ll show you how to utilize this new technology to you and your sales teams’ advantage.
Artificial intelligence like chatbots is revolutionizing the sales process like never seen before. These sales enablement tools such as chat bots provide an immediate answer to a question that a potential customer may have when they reach your website. They also help to read, filter and disperse lead forms so they can be run through your sales team like a well-oiled machine. These artificial intelligence systems are processing lead forms and decreasing the sales time to close at an unprecedented rate.
Bots are poised to help sales teams become more efficient than ever before. Used in conjunction with territory mapping software and CRM systems, this makes for an industry-leading combination for you and your sales reps. Utilizing this artificial technology removes the complexity from the sales process and allows reps to focus more of their time on having quality conversations. These quality conversations lead to more sales and an increase in your ROI.
Let’s take a look at what used to happen through the sales cycle before chatbots and how it has evolved after their introduction.
What Used To Happen:
- Potential lead comes to your site and is interested in your product or service.
- They peruse through your products and the solution and product features that are offered.
- The lead fills out a contact form.
- That form is eventually routed to a sales rep.
- There is an unnecessary time delay from form completion to the first touch by the sales agent.
- Your sales time to close is now longer because you have to set up a discovery call with a sales rep.
- The lead soon forgets about you and your product because it took too long to receive a response.
What Happens Now:
With the use of artificial intelligence through chatbots, lead gen forms are no longer needed. You can have the discovery conversation with the potential buyer right on the website. This is then immediately followed by a calendar invite with a sales demo firmly locked in place. This sales technology is the now AND the future and it’s crucial for you and your sales team to embrace it.
Ultimately, artificial intelligence will scale up lead qualification and prospecting, automate all of your team’s repetitive tasks, make the actual sales calls, and maybe even close the deals. Gartner (an industry leader in sales training) predicted that the majority of commercial interactions will involve a virtual agent by 2020.
It won’t be long before more corporate versions of Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and other AI-driven digital assistants will be going mainstream. IBM is already starting to market Watson as a powerful AI platform across industries and verticals.
"New sales technology is transforming expectations and our opportunities, creating more alive time and diminishing dead time. These are changes that we must welcome, embrace and foster everywhere. Welcome to the future of sales."
-Colleen Francis, The Sales Leader
Review sites have rapidly increased recently in popularity and use and allow consumers to interact with other consumers just like them. This is helping to build the empowered customer. Sites like Angie’s List and Influenster are quickly building more steam as they retain more and more data points and relevant reviews.
Source: Amazon Reviews
Consumers can instantly go online and check out reviews for a product they are considering to buy and connect with other decision-makers who are current customers. These prospects can quickly get a feel via star ratings and the number/quality of reviews for if your product is the solution they have been looking for.
Once there is a good number of reviews, that is when it gets interesting. With 50 reviews, you can’t really get granular enough about the reviewer. But with 500 reviews, the potential customer can sort by people like themselves and determine precisely how your product did or did not work for them.
Consumers now prefer to hear reviews from others that are in their same market or segment, have the same problems they need solutions for, and/or used a similar product they did before finding your product. Being able to filter like this really takes the product sophistication to the next level.
Capitalize On The New Technology
If you and your sales team embrace the growing technology and use it to your advantage, you can quickly put your company ahead of the competition. The sales rep of the future is no longer managing lead forms and prospect spreadsheets, but managing intelligent lead capture and qualification sales campaigns.
Gone are the days of manually going down a list of leads and cold calling them one-by-one to see if they’re a good fit. The new age sales rep will spend more time behind the scenes, connecting with prospects who are ready to buy, and managing a fleet of artificial intelligence chatbots that can qualify leads at a large scale.
“40% of time spent on sales work activities can now be automated using AI.”
-McKinsey Global Institute
In addition to using the chatbots to capture and qualify leads on your website, your sales and customer service teams can use them in-app to upsell and cross-sell existing customers. A good example of this is if you wanted to encourage folks on your lowest level service plan to upgrade to your “Pro” plan. In this instance, you could send a targeted in-app message to just your “Basic” plan customers. These are people who are already paying to use your product. You can quickly alert them to new features and higher levels of service (that may work better for them) and help them get more value out of your product.
With review sites, you can easily use them to your advantage. You can make a more personal connection with customers and thank those who are loving your product or service as well as improving your offerings by listening to those who might not be so happy. It is crucial to stay on top of both negative AND positive reviews. Personally, thank customers for great reviews and professionally address negative reviews.
Human nature often leads to a sense of panic as things evolve and new technologies are introduced. But with the huge advances in technology, especially in relation to consumers and how they make purchases, you should view it as new doors opening for your business. You and your sales team can use this digital disruption shift to its advantage a lot quicker and easier than you may think.
By implementing chatbots in conjunction with sales enablement tools like Map My Customers, and staying on top of both positive and negative reviews across channels, you can position your business and its sales team in a position to win.
The advancing technology has shortened the sales time to close and placed decision makers in front of you who are ready to buy. This is also allowing sales reps to focus their time on areas that will make the most positive impact and connect with customers who will advocate for your product.
Tell us about how technology in this digital age has changed your sales process! Have you found success in using artificial intelligence? Let us know how you made it work for your business. We want to hear from you!