The future of selling

How to use AI to increase sales

Diego Pineda
Jun 3, 2019 · 5 min read
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Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

From Google’s voice search feature on your phone to Siri on your Mac and Alexa at home, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming ubiquitous.

I’m used to it; you’re used to it; and your prospects are used to it.

So why not use AI to increase your sales?

Despite all the bad rep from Hollywood (think I, robot, for example), AI can be a nice chap. It makes content marketing easier, enhances your email marketing, and even resurrects dead leads.

In this article, I want to share 5 steps to start using AI to grow your sales.

1. Be clear on your end goal

Yes, getting your own “sales machine” is exciting and you may want to jump on the AI wagon right away, but wait. First, you must be clear on the main goal you want to accomplish with AI.

Perhaps you aim to increase lead generation by 60% in the next quarter. A chatbot is a tool that your sales team can use to reach that goal, but it won’t work without a well-planned strategy.

For instance, you can use chatbots to handle the initial contact and engage leads but human sales reps then take it from there. Thus, you free some of your reps time so they can focus on closing the deals and increase revenue.

Another goal may be to shorten the sales cycles. Michael Hanson, VP of Marketing at CloudTask says that AI can help speed up the process of making sure prospects are actually qualified with a series of simple questions. “By incorporating these questions seamlessly with a conversation, AI can decide whether or not it’s worth your time to set up an appointment with someone else in the sales department.”

The best of all is that a chatbot is available 24/7 and can respond to questions and qualify leads on the spot, without waiting for a human rep to be available.

Having clarity on your end goal will allow you to choose what kind of AI tool to use. If you are searching for a chatbot, there plenty available: shopping bots, health bots, therapy bots, financial bots, e-commerce bots, support assistant bots, personality bots, travel bots and more. Once you have it, you must decide where to place it.

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Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

2. Place it wisely

What virtual office should you assign to your AI employee? Wherever your leads are and can benefit the most. Focus on the channel with the highest traffic, be it your website, your social media or other platform.

You can place AI on certain pages of your site, you can use with emails, SMS, Facebook Messenger or even Skype, Telegram or Slack.

Let’s say you add it to your website. You can customize it depending on the page where the chatbot is — the homepage, the product pages, the pricing page or the contact page. There can be a message tailored to what the visitor is looking at right then.

Or let’s say you want to use AI with emails. You can grow sales leads with conversational AI encouraging customers to leave reviews and asking for referrals or social media recommendations. AI-generated emails or SMS messages are a great way to follow-up and offer up-sells.

Despite all the automation going on here, you still have to personalize your message…

3. Personalize your bots

I’m sure your brand has a story, a particular look and feel, a unique way of talking and engaging with your customers. Right?

Infuse that personality into your bots. Actually, go ahead and name it (just remember that Siri, Alexa, and C-3PO are taken).

Then, think about the interactions the chatbot is going to have with the prospects and how best to approach them: Serious and formal? Witty and funny?

For some a “Good morning, how can I help you?” may work; for others, a “Hi there! Need any help?” may fit better with their brand.

AI will be front and center with your customers, so make it representative of your brand, from looks and design to language and even emoticons. Just like you created your buyer persona, spend some time developing your bot’s persona.

Once your AI has acquired your organization’s personality, make sure it sells.

4. Focus on benefits

Whether by email, chat or other AI application, you must focus your conversation on the pain points of your prospects, on the benefits they’ll get from your product or service.

A chatbot, for example, may pop up a message to a website visitor that says something like, “I’m here to help sales leaders accomplish more. How can I help you?” You can replace “sales leaders” with your buyer persona.

The secret is to mention the problems you want to solve for them. Providing help and answering their questions and concerns, will build trust, which paves the way for sales.

5. Analyze, then optimize

Even AI bots need performance reviews. After all, they’re working for you.

Analytics software can provide incredible data to evaluate the implementation of your AI’s performance. You can analyze things like response times between messages, how often visitors engage (response rate), chat time, number of messages and the type of questions people ask.

With all this information in hand, you can assess if the chatbot or email campaign is achieving the end goal and if it’s really helping you grow your sales leads. Based on the results of your analysis, optimize. Make a few changes and see how your prospects respond.

One important way to optimize is having creative writers test different scripts for the live chat or follow-up emails.

Michael Brown, CEO of nDash, says that “though it’s perceived as a new and promising technology, conversational AI faces the same limitations of every other marketing tool: it’s only as good as the people and strategy behind it.”

So keep testing and improving — that would you could make your artificial intelligence, even more intelligent.

What about you? Have you tried AI in your sales process? What have been your results? Let us know in the comments.

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