Worried about your job? AI can beat humans in converting leads to sales

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already beaten us at chess, poker, Jeopardy, and facial recognition. Now, there is evidence that AI can best you across the sales pipeline.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Video: Spanish banks turning to bot apps for customer queries

Whilst some chatbots are primitive in their responses, more and more AI assistants are proving their worth.

AI-driven lead engagement software provider Conversica reports there are some key weaknesses in the sales process that can be minimised by adding AI to automate key areas and turn leads into sales.

Its third Sales Effectiveness report aimed to track and evaluate inbound lead follow-up efforts.

Secret shoppers visited websites of 866 US companies across 13 industries and requested that the brands got in touch with them.

Of the 866 companies that were contacted, only 540 companies (62 percent) responded. Of those that responded, 63 percent gave up after trying once or twice to get in contact. Only 37 percent tried multiple times to connect, and 667 companies did not try beyond one or two attempts.

The Automotive sales vertical were the best at following up leads, with a 93-percent response. However, only 37 percent of companies in HR and recruitment followed up the request.

Of the 540 companies overall, only 36 (7 percent) got top scores for persistence in following up leads, personalisation of responses, and promptness of their response to requestors. Again, automotive sales leads the way with responses.

While human salespeople tend to give up after the second try with the prospect, the optimal number of attempts tends to be between five to 11 for a prospect to respond.

Companies continue to give up too soon: 63 percent of companies followed up on their inbound leads with one or two contact attempts, down from 68 percent of companies last year.

Automation -- and a high level of personalisation using AI tools -- can help increase the follow up and the chance of driving the prospect toward a sale.

Inbound lead response was worse in 2017, compared to 2016. Only 21 percent of companies tried to contact the requestor more than five times. This is less than in 2016 (31 percent) and 2015 (28 percent).

So, what can companies do to improve their lead conversion? Use automated, personalised follow-up emails, which are issued as soon as the customer submits a contact request.

The survey says that replying to prospects within the first hour of enquiry will engage the prospect whilst the company is still top of mind.

An automated sales assistant can use human-like email conversations to separate good leads from bad and follow up with authentic prospects.

To ensure success, use AI to automate tedious processes. AI can carry out the repetitive follow-up messages, increasing the chance that prospects will respond.

Using AI for marketing automation will make staff members more productive and successful. You might have to hire more staff to cope with the increase in sales.

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