Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in sales with the promise to significantly improve the effectiveness of automated sales tools.
I was in a Facebook discussion recently about just how bad the fundraising is for both of the major political parties. Neither party knows their donors, and they’re doing more damage to donation efforts than they are helping them.
One party continues to mistakenly hit me up as if I am a loyalist, while the other party hits me with phony surveys that are trying to trick me into donating. Instead, they have led me to question donations I make regularly.
Whichever party starts using AI tools to understand their donors and dynamically generate requests based on what they know motivates them can massively improve their donor close rates.
Let us talk about why that may be a good thing:
See more: The Artificial Intelligence Market
Robocalls vs. human reps
If you are like me, you get several robocalls a day, either giving you dead air or asking about an existing service. I cannot believe many of us do more than hang up, as these calls are disruptive, do not provide a compelling offer, and are not only a waste of our time, but turn us off to the enhanced service. It seems to me that companies are spending money to ensure we do not spend money on their services. It makes these companies look bad, and worse, it is driving legislation to ban this kind of sales attempt.
Professional human telesales operators know how to engage a prospective customer but often do not have the information they need to better target that customer. The best operators know how to create a relationship and close the deal. Efforts to provide human operators with detailed information on their prospects go back decades. But implementation has been uneven, though sales yields clearly go up if you have both a trained telesales rep and a system to keep them informed.
On those rare occasions when I have spoken to someone who is both experienced and informed, even if I do not buy, I do not resent the company for making the attempt, and there have been times when I enjoyed the call. With a lot of us working from home, sometimes just having a human to talk to is nice and provides an opportunity for greater close rates, while we are under the current pandemic cloud.
AI in telesales
A few years back, I reviewed a Watson AI trial where Watson was brought in to sell car insurance. Watson AI was given access to the background of prospects and was able to better engage and close those prospects with great success. Watson was implemented with a woman’s voice, and one of the side stories was of the number of men who appeared to want to date the computer, thinking it was real.
Watson never got angry, was always civil, knew what the company knew about the prospect, and was better able to customize the offer to the unique needs of the prospect. But it was the attempts to date the computer that really caught my attention. Most of us are skeptical of robots and the people who make them. And yet, if Watson made those calls, they enjoyed the experience so much they wanted Watson to be part of their lives.
Now imagine you were to use a system like this to raise funds. The big takeaway is that even if you did not close the prospect, you would not turn them off to the brand. So regardless of which party was using Watson, the result would be more upside and far less long-term downside. Typical automated calling systems have low closing rates and annoy prospects. An AI like Watson improves the former and potentially eliminates the latter, making it far better for both sales and fundraising.
Let AI improve telesales
Telesales is difficult, and the tools political parties are using are not only sub-optimal, but they are also likely to turn off the very people they want to support their efforts.
An AI-based telesales system like Watson can not only improve yields, but can also create a more solid relationship with the prospect, better assuring they remain loyal — rather than becoming disgusted with their party and not donating or voting for them.
The interesting thing is that if more companies used these systems, not only would automated donation generation and telesales operations be more successful, they would also upset fewer people and create stronger relationships between the prospects and the brand.
In short, AI, properly used, could make us enjoy these calls and that would be good for us and those attempting to gain access to our wallets.