She’s not a new member of our Client Services team but she has been helping us with sales.
(Although she is often mistaken for a customer service team member).
Eliza was the first ever chatbot – developed in the 1960s by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT. Since then, the chatbot has certainly come of age and got a lot smarter and sophisticated as she matures.
No longer the plaything of customer service teams, she now straddles both service and sales teams. And, if you haven’t explored how chatbots can help you get customers into – and progress through – your sales cycle, then maybe it’s time you met Eliza.
Sugar and spice – what are chatbots made of?
Even the most complex chatbot consists of just two things:
Computer code – controlling a set of pre-defined responses to queries posted from chat interfaces on your website or via tools such as Facebook Messenger or Slack.
AI – through machine learning techniques, the accuracy of these responses improves and, as it is used more often, the chatbot gets smarter.
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Chatbots and sales cycles
‘There’s no bloody way I’m letting a machine loose on my prospects and customers.’
Sales Director, Far too many companies across the UK
Chatbots are still, mistakenly, associated with customer service queries.
But, consider this: even if they are not deployed at the ‘frontline’ of your sales ops there still are many ways chatbots can help you qualify and understand your leads. This means your sales and marketing teams can spend more time moving the best leads through your pipeline quickly.
Here’s just one way.
Chatbots, at their most basic, can automatically ask a series of questions that will help you more accurately score your leads using accurate, from the horse’s mouth data about things like job level, industry, company size and so on.
What’s more, your target market is so used to using chatbots that they won’t think twice about doing so.
How the stage was set for chatbots
We live in a culture of messaging
We are used to typing in quick responses to ‘disembodied’ questions. Monthly users of messaging apps overtook social media way back in 2015 – and messaging continues to place clear ground between it and social media as it stretches out its lead.
We already deploy AI to make sense of all the data we have gathered about leads and prospects
AI’s ability to score leads is already used throughout many CRM and sales processes. Chatbots can simply be integrated into this automated process to further free up time administering rather than selling.
We want it all and we want it now
From customer service to sales the culture of immediacy permeates our expectations. For instance, the State of the Connected Customer report found that 80% of us expect companies to be able to respond immediately to an enquiry, regardless of the device, channel or touchpoint the enquiry was made from.
Smart sales cycles and smart chatbots
‘Show me the money.’
Jerry Maguire on being told chatbots can help his sales cycle
Here are some ways that chatbot can improve your sales cycle.
And don’t forget we’ve already covered lead scoring but neglected to mention that, should a prospect be a perfect match, they can be passed over to the sales team in real-time for an opening conversation.
Make Facebook sing for its supper
For many marketers a holy grail is to discover how to gain organic traffic from Facebook: enter the chatbot.
By asking what your Facebook visitor is looking for (via a window in Messenger), relevant web results can be returned to drive visitors to the more-conversion focussed environs of your own site.
Mix service and sales
Customers placing orders or investigating information can be offered tailored promotions after some simple questions from a chatbot or by the chatbot’s understanding of where customers are in the order process.
Also, returning customers can be asked if they want to order the same items again and have them packed up in their online basket waiting for them.
And, on a similar tip, chatbots can interact differently depending on which landing page a user interacts with. For example, its questions can be tailored to the product or service that a user is browsing.
Smooth the path to an order
Chatbots can extend the sales and payment process into every touchpoint. By linking your chatbot to payment software there is no need to transfer users to your site to order – if they like a product recommended during a chat it can be purchased without leaving the chat window.
Smooth the path to the sales team
With access to the sales team’s diaries chatbots can schedule a call or pass a customer directly to a team member then and there. (Of course, along with any scheduled call or call transfer there would be background information on conversation so far and lead scoring metrics.
Chatbot: foe or friend?
Chatbots can never – especially in B2B sales – replace the sales team.
In fact, they are not even in the market for this.
Chatbots can enhance sales opportunities by smoothing the sales process and help you score and qualify leads. The result is more can get closed and you can move leads through the sales cycle faster.