Artificial Intelligence has become a strong ally for sales organizations with high volumes of opportunities and lead generation, mainly, because it provides fast and accurate support when performing for different sales stages. In fact, as stated by a Gartner report, implementing AI in sales strategies increases conversion rates up to 30% when engaging prospects or leads.

AI applied to sales can take the form of various technologies that support this area’s strategy, but one implementation in particular is making the sales process faster, more efficient and, overall smarter: chatbots.

Even though, first considered to be a digital customer service tool that established multiple conversations with users, chatbots are fulfilling an outstanding role improving lead quality and shortening the sales cycle. This is particularly true for AI chatbots, that distinguish themselves from flow or simpler chatbots by their ability to understand the intentions behind the questions they receive. In this way, they provide the exact information users (potential or current customers) are looking for at the precise moment, whenever they need it, providing solid opportunities for initial sales but also cross-selling and up-selling.

So, how can AI powered chatbots help you boost sales and customer retention?

Turning visitors into leads

Most people that visit your website can become potential customers, if nurtured properly. Generation, qualification and conversion of leads is one of the features that distinguish all smart chatbots. They are there to immediately respond to any inquiry and get to know the user. This way, they store valuable contact information and collect lead scoring data.

If used properly, chatbots will help your lead database increase, providing you with greater possibilities to generate new sales. Whether you sell a product or service online, use the information gathered regarding your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences to get to know them better and help them convert.

Once a prospect meets the right criteria, they can be transferred to a sales representative. They can either schedule a meeting or connect with them in real time by interacting directly in the chat window.

Understanding customers’ needs and doubts

Making sure your customers are able to get rid of any doubt or obstacle in order to move down the sales funnel is key. So, you need to make sure asking questions and getting answers is as easy and simple as it can be. Chatbots enable your company to answer your customers’ questions automatically, saving you and your customers’ time and money.

But they won’t only probe useful to satiate a potential customers’ curiosity. Chatbots are great to combine Customer Service and Sales. The more a chatbot interacts with your customer, the more it will understand your customer. In fact, they can provide them with options that will make their purchase process quicker and more convenient. In this way, you get to meet all customers’ needs in one place, but also assist them while selling your products.

Shortening the sales cycle

Lots of money and time are spent by companies to do basic data entry tasks before delivering a lead to a salesperson. AI can allow companies to spend less time prospecting and more time selling. With the user data and the lead scoring information collected by an intelligent chatbot, the sales cycle can be significantly reduced.

Hence, the chatbot does the prospecting and follow up, while the sales team is focused on actually selling to qualified opportunities. This allows them to focus on people who already are looking for your solution or product and making a more enjoyable process for both the salesperson and the customer.

Identifying up-selling and cross-selling opportunities

Sales do not only come from new customers. An excellent strategy is to capitalise those who already trust your products or services. To do so, you just need to make sure the right products are offered to the right customer.

According to Deloitte, a customer centric strategy “offers a 25% increase in sales, as well as a 300% improvement in the customer’s lifespan”. By collecting customer data, a chatbot can make smart product recommendations. Offering other products based on user behaviour can create a much more individualized customer experience and lead them to the product they are looking for.

Therefore, by including up-selling and cross-selling techniques into your chatbot’s configuration, you can increase the number of orders and improve consumer lifetime value because it enhances the relationship you have with them. For instance, if your chatbot knows that a certain customer loves red sneakers, it will offer them other available red sneakers if the one they requested is not in stock. In this way, your chances of achieving a purchase increase. They will undoubtedly return, make more purchases and recommend you to their friends.

Are you ready for the bot era?

In today’s business environment, Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more available for brands. This is not to say that they will ever replace your sales team, but the benefits of adopting this technology to empower your team are turning AI into a must, raising the bar for companies all around the world.

In fact, a research conducted by Adobe found that, today, already 15% of enterprises are using AI, and 31% has it on their agenda for the next 12 months. Overall, by 2022, global spending on AI will grow to $7.3 billion a year, up from $2 billion in 2018 (Juniper Research), and 46% of the total investments will come from sales and marketing departments.

The scenario is clear: in order to survive the competitive market, it becomes necessary for companies to adapt to the innovations technology brings.

If you’d like to know more about how chatbots can increase sales and customer retention, you can download my free ebook How to increase online sales with chatbots and Artificial Intelligence, a complete e-commerce guide for greater lead generation and web conversion.

Originally published here.