Chief Marketing Officer / Partner at Marketing 360®, overseeing all inbound lead generation strategies and partnerships.
In these tumultuous times, many workplaces are facing both unprecedented illness in addition to what has been called, “The Great Resignation.” They simply do not have the manpower to manage sales and customer contact in the usual ways. But while this loss of human contact has hurt many smaller businesses, some of which are still using antiquated response systems like email or contact forms from their websites, mid-size to larger enterprises are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to not only initiate customer contact, but also to qualify leads and close more deals.
This is important because it may present a solution for smaller businesses going forward, as it continues to serve the larger ones and offer best practices while doing so. These days, responsiveness is the number one determining factor between businesses that can and can’t go the distance in the midst of huge external challenges. Answering the phone or an online inquiry is just the beginning – and you’d be surprised how many smaller businesses cannot even manage to accomplish those easy steps at this moment in time, leading to some very frustrating disconnects with their potential customers.
Many smaller businesses that may not be great with technology have already attempted to build their sales funnel using tools like InfusionSoft (Keap) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. However, what larger enterprises are showing us is that AI presents a 24/7 method of streamlining your responsiveness to your customer base, as well as qualifying and refining those customers who are most likely to buy from you – and that can be a tremendous timesaver when it comes to determining which leads are worthy of further response.
Not only that, but AI can also serve as an adjunct workforce, as it offers an “always-on” virtual team that a human workforce simply cannot compete with, especially during a pandemic. It enables you to operate a fully functioning sales force without the investment and nuances of managing human capital. It also allows you to expand an existing human workforce to scale your business as it continues to grow, so it is also advantageous as a pathway to greater success.
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For instance, using a lead-gen tool like Verse.io, Drift, or Clari, you can give your sales team much more efficient leads so that they can work based on people who are actually interested in your product and service at that moment – as opposed to someone filling out a form with you now having to chase them down. You’ve got to figure out when they’re ready to talk, schedule and book appointments, but imagine if all that was automated. Now, you’re only talking to people who actually book appointments with you, potentially leading to more closed deals at the end of those conversations.
Using pre-written scripts to facilitate AI customer interaction can also help to route customers to the appropriate funnel for the exact service they need, nurturing long-term leads and handing off the hot ones to humans who can help the customer in real time. In this way, your human staff can be freed up to 25% of the time to focus only on the leads that turn into immediate business, keeping your business more profitable as well as more responsive than your nearest competitor. It allows responsiveness to stay at an all-time high, despite whatever else is going on in the world or with the business itself, and it affords early adopters and users the foresight to allocate resources more efficiently. Right now, responsiveness is everything, because if you don’t answer right away, your customers are going to go to the next business on their list, and never come back to you.
From an ROI perspective, AI is virtually unbeatable because it can deliver qualified leads for an average of $250 per month for smaller businesses. You can’t hire a human to compete with that rate. Close one deal, and you may have already earned that investment back. It’s that simple and inexpensive for many small businesses.
Scripted AI can help determine which customers are ready to buy from you now, and where they are on their customer journey, keeping your pipeline both fuller and richer as you go. It enables you to focus on moving customers more efficiently through the pipeline – while making it easier than ever for your customers to do business with you.
Integrating AI Into Existing Systems
So, how do you go about integrating AI into your current technology and systems? One example is in the CRM space; most of these have open APIs or endpoints built out, but there is a piece of software that allows any company that’s willing to do the work to build, to plug in, and then they connect the dots to other businesses.
Imagine if you had a CRM tool and you wanted to connect to Campaign Monitor, Google Lead Ads, or Facebook Lead Ads. You could, by way of Zapier, create a Facebook lead ad that then pipes into sales and creates automation that would be the conduit for a stream of information. That’s just one example.
Conversely, you can make changes based on where your customers seem to get hung up in the process, increasing engagement along the way. This kind of flexibility has been largely missing from the web-based environments of the past, which required a bit more turnaround time to make significant changes to address customer evolution or rapidly changing needs.
Using scripts or templates, you can refine your AI responsiveness to tailor it to emerging or changing needs, empowering it to grow along with your customers as they proceed on their journey, while keeping responsiveness front and center at all times, even during those unprecedented. What could better help keep your business afloat as economically and efficiently?