AI bots are growing in popularity every day, and an AI sales bot can be an incredibly valuable tool (when done right) that can enhance your user experience, help to increase sales by up-selling or cross-selling, and foster customer loyalty and satisfaction. There are a lot of benefits if done right!
However, to achieve these positive outcomes and align with your sales strategies, it is vital that you know how to utilize a bot effectively. Get it wrong, and you'll run the risk of losing sales and jeopardising customer satisfaction - by damaging your customer experience (CX).
If you already use an AI bot for sales and are looking to train your sales team on how to leverage them best, be sure to try Vouch. We help sales reps succeed through video and simple knowledge sharing.
What is a bot for sales exactly?
An AI sales chatbot is a software program designed to engage with customers (online) and assist them in the sales process - be it their first contact with your company or a returning customer.
A chatbot for sales is designed to leverage prewritten scripts to generate human-like interactions, like answering customer questions and providing product details like shipping costs, sizing, etc.
The goal is to guide a person through the online sales funnel without requiring actual people on live chat. Chatbot automation is an art, and one of the advanced features of Chatbots is the ability to optimise them for your audience and to align with your current marketing campaigns to improve conversion rates.
Can an online AI bot for sales replace a live salesperson?
The short answer is - it depends.
It's a big task to replace living sales representatives who know how to handle all kinds of customers and situations. Most customer conversations are unique with personal connections - even on an online chat- which is something an AI chatbot can not do to the same extent.
Even simple questions like "How are you today?" require a person. Chatbots are not open-ended chatbots and are better at tedious tasks and repetitive tasks - they need to handle two-way customer communication better...yet.
It depends on what you sell, how you've qualified leads to date, and how complicated your sales process is. Then, there is the complexity of your products or services.
For example, if you provide "custom work" for every client, like a large engineering or construction firm - then an AI bot for sales may not be a great idea. In fact, you may lose potential leads and sales with the current AI Bot technology. This will no doubt change in the years to come as AI advances. But in 2023, we would suggest a live person for this kind of custom sale.
However, if you sell a "set piece" of software (SAAS) or a physical product, an AI bot for sales can indeed replace a live chat person, and millions of companies are already using this technology.
The key in every case (in the Vouch's opinion) is to ensure that a potential client can get help from a real person if they need/want to. Nothing is more frustrating than interacting with an AI Bot that can't help you solve your issues - and that's the line companies need to understand.
Is an AI bot for sales also called a Retail Bot?
Yes, AI sales bots are also called Retail Bots, which makes sense.
AI bots work perfectly in a retail environment where people already understand what they buy.
It's all about CX.
We would also consider in-depth risk analysis if you consider using an AI bot for sales in a support-like environment. When it comes to support, people may already be frustrated - so if an AI bot adds more frustration, your customers may churn.
From an ROI perspective, having genuine customer service people can make a lot of financial and UX sense. Some of our favourite companies have highly experienced service people, even for online chat, because they understand the value of customer service and quickly remove customer frustrations.
What are the benefits of an AI bot for sales?
When implemented correctly, the benefit of AI bots can be immense, especially for e-commerce stores. Let's explore a few benefits:
1) Instant Response
When it comes to live chat on your website, one challenge is having 24/7 sales resources - that don't get sick or go on lunch. An AI bot for sales never gets ill or sleeps, and for many companies, this is a reason to invest in an AI bot for your online sales funnel, from the top of the funnel to the bottom where the sales are made. AI Chatbots (especially in e-commerce) are great at starting the conversation and leading to tailored product suggestions that drive sales conversions, online and offline.
2) Provide An Omnichannel Experience
The beauty of AI chatbots is that they can be integrated across your social media channels, website and messaging platforms. This provides your customers with a much sought-after omnichannel experience and can help you improve ROI from your social media investment. According to one report by Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s social selling platform that looked at 14 different industries, social media sales can generate over 50% of revenue for a company when done right.
Here at Vouch, most of our new clients find us through social media, and our platform is often used to train sales teams on using social media. The power of an omnichannel experience is not to be underestimated.
3) Ability For Ongoing Optimization
One of the trickiest parts of working with real people is that everyone is different and has bad days. With an AI bot for sales, you can control everything, including tone of voice. This provides a fluent experience that leads to stronger branding and lets you test different messaging that can be used in other sales and marketing areas, such as your PPC Ads or SEO strategies.
4) Free Up Your Sales Resources
Good salespeople are worth their weight in gold, so why not free them up from the front-end and let them work on larger clients or focus on companies further down your sales pipeline? An AI bot for sales can do wonders for time management and resourcing.
Additionally, if you are a global brand, there are multilingual chatbots that can make life much easier for your internal sales and support teams. Even basic questions in a non-native language can lead to confusion, so having multilingual chatbots on your website can be a massive benefit for simple and complex questions.
5) Reduce Cart Abandonment
If you want to use a bot for sales on an e-commerce website, the most powerful benefit is reducing cart abandonment. An AI chatbot can be implemented at all funnel stages, including the cart, where most sales are lost. An AI chatbot can improve all stages of an online sales funnel, and the bottom of the funnel is where the money is made. Addressing customer queries before they leave is key, as you want them to avoid hitting the back button to find your FAQs or heading to a competitor's website.
What are the potential downfalls of an AI bot for sales?
Before getting into the potential downfalls of AI bots, it's essential to remember that AI technology is evolving rapidly. The advancements from 2021 to 2023 in AI have been immense - so if you have had a bad experience with AI chat bots before, things may have changed.
Today's Business growth relies on the tools that make life easier for your customers and sales efforts. People want instant answers as much as they want human-like conversations - so it's a delicate balance right now - and why most companies still have an option to "talk to a person" within their chatbot solutions.
To understand the potential downfalls of AI bots, we need to look at customer experience and engagement strategies. Here are the potential downfalls:
1) The Potential To Damage Your Brand
Even with the world's best AI at the helm, your brand relies on providing a great customer experience to all customer types, top-of-funnel research or ready-to-buy repeat, loyal customers. According to an in-depth 2022 Twilio report, 62% of consumers will only be loyal customers if they receive a personalized experience. While we are seeing shifts in consumer expectations with Gen Z, personalization is still everything for most brands.
2) Potentially Frustrate Users
Beyond personalization, the art of helping your visitors solve a problem without frustrating them (in as little time as possible) is a must for every sales funnel and customer service team. Even a basic use case, where someone is buying a pair of shoes online and wants to know shipping times - if your AI bot for sales requires multiple clicks or data entry, you may instantly lose sales through user frustration.
Chatbots for sales must be carefully integrated with your current sales processes to satisfy your users. You also need to be very careful with customer segmentation - as while bots for sales promote these features, it only takes a simple slip, and you may be emailing irrelevant information to your segmented customer base.
3) Potentially Create A Roadblock
If you have real salespeople who can jump on an online chat and close sales, then you need to be very careful that your AI bot for sales does not create an unwanted roadblock. We all love to chat with someone and get personalized service, which is the key to creating happier customers.
If you have real salespeople who can be on live chat and answer more complex queries or provide a friendly face, try to work out how to remove any roadblocks before implementing any new chatbot technology.
The easiest workaround here is to always have a "talk to someone" option in your chatbot. If this is after hours, prompt to send an email to your human representative.
When should you use an AI sales bot?
With vast advantages and disadvantages, sometimes the challenge can be knowing "when" a bot for sales can help. At this point, it's vital to look at your marketing team's customer journey and sales funnel - and only inject an AI sales bot that adds value to your customers, like after-hours help or guidance for booking appointments with your sales team through tools like Calendly.
Here's when and where a bot for sales can help:
1) After-hours Omnichannel Sales Support
A great way to get started with an AI bot for sales is to try them when your business is closed, as your customers will understand "why" they are interacting with a bot, not a person. It's a great way to test an AI bot and optimize the experience so you can transition into 24/7 bots.
Add your chatbot to your social media channels, and you can start a conversational flow around the clock, even if this is to organize a time to speak to a salesperson or customer service representative. Your chatbot can be used to start a conversation, and that is where chatbots can be most powerful when it comes to sales and valuable chat automation functions.
2) Streamline Your Processes
When done properly, an AI bot for sales can streamline a lot of sales processes and generate high-quality leads, especially if your sales teams are in or work across multiple departments. A bank is a perfect example; you have salespeople in home loans, business accounts, commercial loans, and new accounts.
An AI bot for sales can help people get to the right salespeople in less time. A dedicated chatbot for sales teams can be custom set up, too, so that you can ask some simple qualifying questions - as long as they are not a roadblock, try to keep any qualification questions.
3) Provide A Knowledge Base
Knowledge bases need to be done correctly, and when they are, they are immensely powerful and an excellent benefit for AI sales bots that can learn and adapt. The caveat is that a knowledge base does not replace a real salesperson (or support person). Instead, think of a knowledge base like an FAQ page - and avoid creating a roadblock to your sales funnel.
Note: if you are looking for a knowledge base for your internal sales team, check out Vouch - we help sales teams succeed through internal video and simple knowledge sharing.
Who develops and sells AI bots for sales?
If you are looking for a bot for sales (or a bot for retail), below are a few great options. The key is finding the right solution for your unique sales process and existing technology that you need to integrate with.
Sales bots are generally integrated with your CRM, so if you have an established CRM, we would highly suggest talking to your provider for their suggestions - this will speed up integration significantly.
Some leading AI sales bots include:
Intercom for Sales: https://www.intercom.com/customer-acquisition
With clients like Zip, Notion, Amazon, Udemy, Xero, Atlassian, Culture Amp and more, Intercom has developed one of the world's leading AI sales bots and support bots. Intercom is a robust platform with a world-leading development team at the helm.
The benefit of using enterprise-level technology, albeit more complex solutions have higher learning curves, is that you can trust that Intercom will be consistently improving the AI solution, CX, and continually building out more in-depth analytics dashboard data to continuously optimise your sales and marketing funnels. In a fast-paced AI-powered world, being at the pointy end of technology could make or break a business, especially in a competitive market.
Chatbot for Sales: https://www.chatbot.com/solutions/chatbot-for-sales/
Aptly named, Chatbot is one of the world's favourite AI-driven sales chatbot tools for SME businesses, with straightforward integrations to Shopify, WordPress, Facebook, Livechat and more. We love the simplicity of Chatbot - and of course, to see Chatbot in action, simply go to their website and start using the Chatbot widget on their site! Digital assistants and AI sales bots don't get much simpler.
Tidio for Sales: https://www.tidio.com/chatbots/
We love plug-and-play AI chatbots, and Tidio is well-known for its sales solutions that work across Shopify, WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and more. Tidio is focused squarely on the e-commerce space, and its integrations can take users from the homepage to checkout, which is extremely powerful.
Drift for Sales: https://www.drift.com/platform/conversational-ai/
With unique marketing and branding, Drift promotes conversational AI, which is key to creating a great customer experience. To understand how Drift can help, their use cases pages provide some invaluable insights and where we recommend starting if you are considering Drift for your AI sales bot.
Great Tip: Use the chatbots on these websites to see the solution in action. That's the company's software they're selling and can show you more in a minute of interaction than hours of research. Also, note there is usually an option to "chat to a person", which shows that even the best AI bots for sales still include real people.
Naturally, your business may have unique needs, but starting with these AI bots for sales should help. And please remember, if you have a CRM in place already, chances are that your CRM provider has recommended or even in-house developer chatbot tools that will reduce integration times.
Summary of AI bots for sales
If you want to use a bot for your sales, then our suggestion would be to start slowly. Try the bot after hours, or if you run an e-commerce store, turn it on for a few hours a day and optimize it before you roll it out 24/7.
Understanding your customer's experience and journey is everything, and you must avoid customer frustrations. Even simple things, like adding a real human face to the bot, can make massive differences in user perception and branding. You need to tread carefully.
An AI sales bot will likely not work if you sell custom solutions. Bots for sales are best used in industries with off-the-shelf products and services or as a "reception" like front to your actual sales team.
Talking about training your salespeople, check out Vouch - we help sales teams succeed through internal video and simple knowledge sharing.