Category Archives: CRM News and Info

Genesys Launches G-Nine CX Framework

Genesys on Monday introduced G-Nine as the innovation framework underlying all of its product offerings.

genesys Genesys Launches G Nine CX Framework

“Think of G-Nine as the Genesys innovation framework that guides many aspects of our business — product strategy being one of those,” said Genesys CMO Merijn te Booij.

“Within the G-Nine innovation framework, we have defined our themes related to technology and consumer trends that we’ll focus on in the next two years,” he told CRM Buyer.

Among G-Nine’s initial capabilities:

  • Smart App Automation, with more than 80 predefined micro-applications for voice and digital self-service;
  • Asynchronous messaging, through Genesys Hub, in often-used channels such as Facebook Messenger Slack, Skype and WeChat;
  • Next-generation engagement, which extends the customer experience into the Internet of Things to determine in real time the best course of action given user context, resource availibility, customer profile and business attributes;
  • Bring-Your-Own Bot, which lets corporations bring their own bots, such as those powered by IBM Watson, to the Genesys customer experience platform; and
  • Kate, which is customer service-specific artificial intelligence in a personified AI ecosystem.

“Depending upon the platform, some capabilities, like smart app automation and asynchronous messaging, are currently available to customers,” te Booij said. “Others will be rolled out in the coming months.”

Extending Genesys to Users’ Current Systems

Kate brings together the capabilities of blended AI, such as using Salesforce Einstein for CRM and IBM Watson for big data. It has its own micro apps and natural language understanding.

The capabilities of the bots customers choose to bring in will blend seamlessly with native Genesys AI and machine learning systems to offer a deeper understanding of customer interactions across channels, te Booij noted.

“The Genesys platform is extremely open, so it can be extended to any AI or machine learning-based bot,” he added.

What G-Nine Is

G-Nine “is [Genesys’] experience platform leveraging their past framework and now being called a ‘platform,'” said Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research. “It’s predictive analysis and machine learning meets customer journeys.”

Next-generation engagement, which aims to extend the customer experience into the IoT, can be used “to bring in contextual IoT data to help with the customer experience,” Wang told CRM Buyer.

The advantage of next-generation engagement “is in the digital channels blended back to traditional ones,” he suggested. “Think chatbots, virtual assistance and contact centers.”

On the other hand, “it’s not completely clear how much G-Nine is a suite of offerings versus a development toolkit,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“It will be interring to see how G-Nine innovations can be plucked and integrated from Genesys to other platforms,” she told CRM Buyer.

Plugging in the AI Stuff

“AI and virtual assistants are all the rage in the customer experience, and Genesys is no exception,” Wettemann remarked.

Genesys last year completed the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence, and this “both gave Genesys a modern cloud platform and a customer base that was already innovating at cloud pace,” she noted.

AI needs seven key components in order to work, according to Constellation’s Wang. It requires lots of data; compute power; great math talent and algorithms; time compression; domain expertise; great interactive UX-like chat, vision and speech; and a good recommendation engine.

“Genesys is providing the algorithms and leveraging the data in the contact center and knowledge repositories,” Wang said.

Kate “is a good start, but it needs much work. It’s more advanced than Cortana but not as good as TensorFlow,” he observed.

“Given the flurry of AI and intelligent agent announcements in the field over the past few quarters,” said Wettemann, “Genesys will have to show both technically and from a time-to-value perspective how Kate — and the other new innovations — deliver, compared with the competition.”
end enn Genesys Launches G Nine CX Framework


Richard%20Adhikari Genesys Launches G Nine CX FrameworkRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Buyer

Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce

Mobile technology has delivered a lot of useful functionality that enables vendors and their customers to be on the same page more frequently. However, the screen size has an inherent drawback: It shows a very narrow slice of a reality — typically one idea at a time. The problem is especially acute in the key areas of sales and service.

A mobile “help” app should deliver help the customer values. One that misunderstands the customer’s situation or its role in responding to it can be a source of pain, frustration or even customer churn. We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t see that problem.

Good AI and machine learning tools have done a lot to ensure that the sales offers vendors place on customers’ small screens are the ones customers actually value.

The same need exists in customer service — putting the right information before a customer — but AI might not be necessary. However, because the mobile screen will support only one idea at a time, it’s critical that the help is, well, helpful.

There’s less to wonder about in a help situation and therefore less need for analytics. What is needed is simply step-by-step help as a customer traverses a process.

The Helpshift Approach

Helpshift, an emerging company in the customer service space, has been supporting service processes with an innovative approach to placing help at every step in a service process. This approach ensures the app’s help keeps up with the customer’s need.

Helpshift did something really cool this week, when it announced integration with the Salesforce Service Cloud and made the integration available on the AppExchange. Importantly, Helpshift FAQs are mapped to and managed by the Salesforce knowledge base, making it possible to manage Helpshift from the Salesforce dashboard.

When a mobile user initiates a chat in a Helpshift-powered mobile app, it automatically creates a Salesforce case. The case contains all of the metadata and data from the user’s phone, saving time and increasing accuracy and time to resolution.

It’s not hard to create a first-level integration with Salesforce, and many vendors do this. What’s interesting about Helpshift’s approach is that it has created an integration that not only satisfies the end user in the moment, but also goes on to work within Salesforce to enable knowledge base updating over the life of the mobile app.

From that point, you can imagine more functionality being added over time. For instance, how long before natural language processing becomes part of the interface?

Empowering Customers

Customer self-service once was thought to be the peak of customer empowerment, but we soon discovered that self-service systems were, in some cases, the same support systems used by agents — but possibly with nicer front-ends.

That didn’t work — at least in part because there’s a lot of knowledge capital that agents have as employees that customers, by definition, don’t. So customer self-service had a rocky start, and customers who used those systems easily could be discouraged.

Today’s self-help, exemplified by Helpshift, does away with old style self-service while really empowering customers. If an issue needs escalation, that’s a standard part of the solution. Conventional indirect service channels have been highly successful, with better than 80 percent of customers checking them before calling a service center.

That has resulted in fewer calls, but the ones that get through often are more complex and require the help of a real person. So, don’t expect this or any service automation to replace the agent.

The real benefits of the Helpshift integration will be twofold: For customers, it will provide fast answers in a channel that might have lacked them before. For vendors, it might be another way to limit the high costs of customer service. Given people’s propensity to solve their own problems, this should be a benefit to all parties.
end enn Helpshift Integrates With Salesforce


Denis%20Pombriant Helpshift Integrates With SalesforceDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at
denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Buyer

Could Being in the Cloud Have Protected You from the WannaCry Cyber-Attack?

CRM Blog Could Being in the Cloud Have Protected You from the WannaCry Cyber Attack?

The WannaCry ransomware incident had an impact on 150 countries. Anyone impacted was left with one gnawing question: Was there anything we could have done to avoid this? Could our IT department have done something differently? Was there someone who saw this coming and knew how to avoid it?

But really, unless you actually wrote the program, there was little you could have done.

But is that true?

You theoretically could have hired white-hat consultants (you know, those “good guy” hackers) who might have been able to recognize your vulnerabilities.  You then could have paid a lot of money to have repetitive penetration testing completed on your systems. These consultants could possibly have been able to detect the WannaCry problem before it hit, then your own IT team could have begun a patch on all your systems. After all, how many computers does one company actually have? It certainly can’t be that hard.

But wait a minute…that’s every single workstation and every single server. Now let’s add to this…it needs to happen over the course of a weekend. Yes, IT IS that hard.

Option two is to have the responsibility placed onto someone else…where it makes more sense. Here’s where Microsoft and the Cloud come in. This is never about finding a place for the blame; it is about making sure you have assigned an important job to the correct party. You are, quite simply, in the business doing business…not IT. You should not be expecting your internal IT team to have the technology, know-how, or resources to protect your organization completely. You should rely on people whose job is IT in order to prevent and/or manage breaches.

Governments, agencies, and other organizations already in the cloud have discovered an unexpected benefit: with patching SaaS (software-as-a-service like Office 365) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-service like Dynamics 365, this is no longer their problem. With the SLA (service level agreement), Microsoft delivers an assurance that their solutions will be available and operational, with specifically defined downtime and security. If there is an issue, it’s Microsoft’s responsibility to handle it. Additionally, when ransomware or other attacks do occur, Microsoft provides a dedicated team of professionals and the necessary technology to ensure that patches are utilized, often prior to the general public becoming aware of the issue.

Now, what happens if you don’t have Dynamics 365 or Office 365? What occurs with an older version? Even if this is the case, you are hosting your organization’s solution in IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service), which means host controllers in the data center have the ability to keep an eye on situations for you. However, you’re not entirely in the clear. Since you are running a VM (virtual machine), this operates within a Windows operating system. Microsoft cannot manage or monitor that for you—or notify you if a problems occurs. This is why you need a strong, qualified partner with the ability to run your Cloud infrastructure within a Managed Cloud Service.  In the hands of the experts, guarded against cyber-attacks, is where it should be so you can go about the business of running your organization.

In brief…

  1. Though we cannot eliminate every hacker and we know we will eventually deal with a data threat or breach, we can be prepared if we trust the task to the experts.
  2. Microsoft has invested heavily into their data centers. You can count on the fact that they will be there, fixing problems quickly and efficiently. If an issue gets past them, they know that they have thousands of customers relying on them to get it fixed fast.
  3. If you are an IaaS customer in the cloud, a strong partner will assure that everything is up to date and they will be watching out for hacks. They should have all the resources necessary to “follow the sun” and protect your organization around the clock.

Organizations in both the private and public sectors are reaping the benefits of moving to the Cloud:

If your company is concerned because of this attack, get out of the IT business and move to the Cloud. Contact the Cloud experts at AKA Enterprise Solutions. We can assist you by building and executing a plan that will guarantee a smooth transition and a safer place your organization and your customers.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

7 Tips for Using Buyer Personas in Lead Nurturing

blog title buyer personas 351X200 7 Tips for Using Buyer Personas in Lead Nurturing

Picture your customers. Not just their industries and business functions. Not just their geographic locations and levels of seniority — although all of those things are important. But picture them. What motivates them? What are their pain points? Who are they?

This extremely specific description of your model customer is a buyer persona. Buyer personas help you target prospects with surgical precision and nurture them with custom content they care about.

Read on to learn seven tips for integrating buyer personas into a lead nurturing campaign:

1. Personas first, content second

Response rates plummet when you send generic content to a broad, untargeted audience. So before building a lead nurturing program, figure out who you are trying to reach. After all, you’ve got to know who you’re talking to before creating your marketing messages.

To gain deeper insight into your buyers — and to build better buyer personas — you can hold focus groups, interview current customers, conduct surveys, or check out who’s engaging with you via social media.

2. Put the person back into persona

Buyer personas may be fictional, but they uncover key insights into the real people you’re striving to connect with. Personas can help you craft messages that make your prospects feel like you’re speaking directly to them. This is especially important when employing an automated process, like lead nurturing. These targeted messages help nurturing feel less like a pitch from a robot, and more like a conversation between humans.

Give each of your buyer personas a name, job, likes and dislikes, pain points, purchase drivers, activities, success measurements, and more. If most of the CEOs you want to reach are female, name your Executive persona “Emily,” not “CEO-Persona-B.”

3. Uncover pain points

Think about the challenges your personas face. Your lead nurturing messages should explain how you will provide relief. For example, if one of your personas feels his or her current tool is unreliable, talk about predictable performance — perhaps by focusing on the reliability of your solution. You can research which pain points are plaguing your customers through interviews, surveys, or conversations with sales.

4. Follow digital footprints

Measure, test, track, and combine data from your customers’ online behavior to get a feel for the habits and motivations of each buyer persona. Where did they go for information? To which messages did they respond?

Ask the right questions to learn where and how they devour your content. For example, did they find your site via social media? How much time do they spend on your site? Which pages, microsites, or areas of your site do they visit most? In what order and quantity do they access your content? Find their hot spots and give them what they’re looking for.

5. Update regularly

Remember when you created those buyer personas five years ago? Chances are, they no longer fit today’s customers. The buyer’s journey — how customers search for a solution, interact with you, and respond to sales — is constantly evolving. Make sure your personas and lead nurturing tracks line up with their behavior.

Refresh personas at least every year or two. Once you’ve revisited your personas, update lead nurturing tracks to fit them.

6. Include your sales department

Sales has the most direct access to your customers. They understand pain points and motivations — so get their input on personas. You’ll craft marketing messages that are more cohesive from the top of the funnel to the bottom. If sales isn’t aligned with your messaging, the conversation will feel disjointed.

7. Segment based on personas

Finally, it’s time to plug your buyer personas into your lead nurturing tracks. At its simplest, you can segment your database so that each prospect is labeled with a persona. For example, every record that has a job title in the C-suite might map to your Executive persona, “Emily,” while records with engineering titles are mapped to your Technology persona, “Jim.”

From there, tailor content for each buyer persona segment that addresses the pain points, motivations, and specific influences you’ve already identified. Now you’ve got a campaign that really makes business personal.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Act-On Blog

The 10 Commandments of Successful B2B Customer Retention

The 10 Commandments of Successful B2B Customer Retention 351x200 The 10 Commandments of Successful B2B Customer Retention

Conclusion

The smart money in marketing is increasingly on prioritizing customer retention.

Whether that takes the form of creating content for existing customers, improving products, personalizing service, or finally staffing your help lines adequately will depend on how your company is operating now.

Like the old saw says, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” If one aspect of your customer experience is particularly faulty, fix that before you invest millions in other bells and whistles.

Or better yet, ask your customers. The ones you’ve got … and the ones who have left. If we have exit interviews for staffers, isn’t it time to have them for customers, too?

Back to you

What do you think about customer retention as a growth strategy? Is it gold? Bunk? Somewhere in between? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Act-On Blog

5 Assumptions That Sabotage Your Marketing

5 Assumptions That Sabotage Your Marketing 351x200 5 Assumptions That Sabotage Your Marketing

Assumption No. 4: All customers are equal.

Most marketers are familiar with the 80/20 rule, which was first introduced by Italian economist Vifredo Pareto. In business, this rule states that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. With regard to productivity, it says that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the actions. You get the point. However, some assume that all customers are equal. But a recent study found that when it comes to social media, as highlighted above, this is not always true.

MarketingSherpa found the vast majority of customers who follow brands on social media do so for the discounts, coupons, and sweepstakes. Moreover, these customers may not add the most value to your brand.

Key takeaway. Find out where your most profitable customers are spending time and refocus marketing efforts to grow those relationships and find more customers who fit that profile.

Assumption No. 5: Loyalty translates to high profitability.

Some marketers believe that customers who have been with the company the longest and purchase with high frequency are the most profitable. Yet this too is an assumption. Even though these customers are high-frequency purchasers, it doesn’t mean those purchases carry the highest profitability.

In fact, this Harvard Business Review article argues that loyalty is not a proxy for profitability. So managing loyalty and managing profitability are two entirely different things.

Key takeaway. Try examining loyalty and profitability in another light. Who are your most profitable customers? Build personas for those individuals. Are these customers also the most loyal? Look for overlap, and find areas of potential for new opportunities.

Moving forward with certainty

There are some things a marketer should never guess about – branding, logos, and even the colors that customers like best. Additionally, the simple elements of the customer experience, such as whether your customers prefer to talk on the phone or chat live on the website, can also become dangerous pitfalls when combined with assumption.

Use existing data, but also collect your own to create a better understanding of customers and, consequently, stronger and more powerful marketing strategies.

Have you ever made a dangerous marketing assumption? Which assumptions to do think are the largest pitfalls for marketers?

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Act-On Blog

Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers

Verizon Enterprise Solutions on Friday released Visual Interactive Calling, a software development kit and platform in the Verizon network designed to enable banks, retailers, airlines, travel and hospitality companies, and other firms to communicate visually with their customers.

verizon Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers

“The sweet spot for this solution is enterprises that have deep mobile app penetration into their customer base, and those with complex interactions that users may need agent assistance with,” said Tom Smith, senior manager of customer experience innovation for Verizon.

Apps developed with this SDK will transition customers using a company’s self-service mobile app directly to a live agent.

This will maintain the security of the transaction and minimize the number of steps required. The customer’s confirmed identity and information about the reason for the call will be on the agent’s screen, and customers won’t have to log out of the mobile app and go through the process of connecting with a live agent over a standard interactive voice response system.

“This SDK is used to enhance the mobile app rather than replacing existing app development tools,” Smith told CRM Buyer. It “provides APIs and sample code that can be used by the app to interface with the Verizon platform and the enterprise.”

The Verizon platform performs authentication, translation, security and call control functions.

Visual Interactive Calling is immediately available to companies based in the United States.

Visual Interactive Calling’s Impact

Visual Interactive Calling will help companies better cater to customers’ increasingly mobile habits.

Consumers in the United States
spent more than five hours a day on their devices, according to recent research.

“Our enterprise clients need to adapt to the communications preferences of their own customers,” Smith noted. “So many of our clients … have adopted a mobile-first service strategy, and legacy contact center solutions aren’t optimizing the mobile user experience.”

Verizon’s Visual Interactive Calling product “enables them to compete against the rise in enterprise adoption of cloud-based contact center providers — and in particular, Amazon’s new Connect solution,” said Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

One of the primary reasons for enterprises switching contact center software providers is for “platform ease, pricing, and integration with their existing CRM technology,” she told CRM Buyer. “I didn’t see any reference to external CRM integration in [Verizon’s] announcement.

Businesses would want to use the SDK to develop their own apps instead of leveraging Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s Duo apps, which “don’t offer the queuing, routing and blending that’s needed for a best-practice call center,” said Holger Mueller, also a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Blending “is key to have a high-value customer overtake lower-value customers in the queue,” he told CRM Buyer, “or getting the same agent to the same customer as last time.”

Not Your Daddy’s Visual IVR

Google received a patent for Visual IVR in 2005 from Nortel, which had submitted the design in 2000.

Visual IVR was seen as a blending of the mobile phone’s visual display with speech-enabled IVRs, as offered by DiaLogic and ChoiceView, and unveiled last year by Zappix.

“Verizon is certainly not the first in the space, as many CRM providers have introduced similar capabilities,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

Further, Verizon is “seen as a telecoms provider, not a customer experience or CRM software provider,” she told CRM Buyer.

Visual Interactive Calling is “unlikely to drive new business,” Wettemann said, “as customers’ buying patterns and decision process in this space aren’t aligned with Verizon’s core expertise.”

However, “we don’t view [Visual Interactive Calling] as a visual IVR,” said Verizon’s Smith.

Visual IVR applications “typically start out with a phone call, and are designed with the IVR experience as a baseline,” he said, but Verizon “[looked] at the types of interactions that are escalated from mobile app self-service to contact center agents, and is working with enterprises and consumers to figure out how to optimize the experience.”
end enn Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers


Richard%20Adhikari Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With CustomersRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Buyer

Business Agreements & Contracts – The benefits of Dynamics CRM 365 and SharePoint Integration

Consider a transport company that offers clients delivery services to different addresses and prices that vary based on size, weight, and preferred method of delivery. Or a company that provides IT support services committed to be delivered on predefined schedule.
In both cases there is an agreement or service contract, a document that sets out the different type of goods and services, when and what will be delivered and in what price. The contract document is stored in SharePoint to allow management, operations team, and sales-people, access to view its content, follow approval process, track its version history and movement between one person to another, and add comments related to its content, during the contract term.

Business Process Across CRM and SharePoint Platforms

Although Dynamics CRM and SharePoint are on two different platforms, the synergy between them is highly complementary if a document uploaded from CRM to SharePoint is stored (tagged) with the structured data available in Dynamics CRM. Tagging documents with metadata in a SharePoint document library provides the flexibility to display multiple library views based on the different needs of users. The values stored in the document column can be used to trigger SharePoint workflows. Good example is a workflow that waits till the expiry date of a contract or price agreement, and then it sends an Email to sales team to follow up contact renewal or price review. You can run one automated business process starting with CRM Workflow, which is then taken over by SharePoint Workflow, a process that can repeat itself, from SharePoint to trigger another CRM Workflow, to accomplish all business tasks required to be completed during the lifetime of the document.

Two Step Process to create document & upload to SharePoint with data from CRM

  1. Create Word Template

Create predefined template of invoice, quote, service contract or any other business document, which is populated with data from CRM records.

  1. Run Dynamics PDF-Docs workflow

With Dynamics PDF-Docs users can schedule a workflow to email Word document generated in CRM 2016 and Dynamics 365, as an attachment to an Email. With the release of PDF-Docs version 2, you can now upload the document as PDF or Word format to SharePoint, and tag it with fields from the record in CRM.

(You can download Dynamics PDF from this link)

The workflow has three steps. The first step- “SetWordTemplate” a Word document is generated with fields from the CRM record inserted in the document. The second step “Add Word Template” converts the created Word document to PDF. The last step is to upload to SharePoint. In the Properties of this step, we can select if the document to upload is in Word or PDF format, and we can set up to three columns as a combination of Column Name and Value. The value can be static like “Service Contract” which is an option from available list or dynamic like date, description and any other CRM attribute.

WF upload to SP Business Agreements & Contracts – The benefits of Dynamics CRM 365 and SharePoint Integration

The end result is a document uploaded to SharePoint with the corresponding fields from CRM record associated with this document.

WF upload to SP1 Business Agreements & Contracts – The benefits of Dynamics CRM 365 and SharePoint Integration

There are four obvious benefits to using Dynamics PDF-Docs:

  1. An automated process to upload documents and populate columns with fix and dynamic values from CRM records.
  2. Searching for documents, based on values stored in the column of the list, in this example in the title field, makes it easier to locate a document.
  3. The Expiry Date can be used to trigger a workflow to send an Email or create task, when expiry date is due.
  4. The “Document Type” column can serve to build Views to filter documents based on type.

Download free trial:

http://dynamicsobjects.com/Products/Dynamics-PDF-Docs

.

.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

5 “Digital Breadcrumbs” Customers Leave for You to Follow

blog title digital breadcrumbs 351x200 5 “Digital Breadcrumbs” Customers Leave for You to Follow

Breadcrumb No. 2: Location-specific information

In the past, we tried to understand the behavior of customers through looking at cookies on individual computers. But those clues were difficult to interpret and oftentimes inaccurate, because they weren’t always a reflection of a single person using a computer. Roommates, family members, and friends could all be using the same device. So all those breadcrumbs didn’t belong to one person, but rather to several. This makes creating personalized experiences difficult.

Geolocation is changing how information is collected. Typically, a single person uses a cellphone, so all the data collected is about a unique user rather than about several. As a result, marketers can learn much more about their customers.

For example, a company previously may have emailed a promotional coupon during the summer months. But through geolocation, that same company can now send the coupon when the customer is within 50 yards of the business, making it more contextually relevant.

Key takeaway: Marketers provide customers with coupons, offers, and other marketing materials, but what’s sent is not always in context. Geolocation allows marketers to increase response rates and conversion through more contextually relevant offers.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Act-On Blog

3 Ways Your Sales Organization Should Prepare for AI

A company in the CPQ (configure, price, quote) space last year announced an artificial intelligence feature for its solution. AI is a trend, and it’s always nice to be trendy, but as great as CPQ is, it’s still only one source of data.

Without sufficient data, AI is extremely limited. It’s like allowing your toddler to learn only about colors: The kid might be a whiz with colors, all right, but without context — in other words, more data — that information won’t make any sense.

This is the scary, behind-the-curtain aspect of AI: We’re still in a world where the systems depend on us humans to ensure they’re getting the data they need to deliver good results.

AI can’t tell humans, “You need to give me this information, too!” They can’t say, “I could be more effective if you’d just allow me to compare what I come up with against commissions data for a historical reality check.”

People need to come to these realizations to make them happen — and unfortunately, when it comes to these kinds of things, our species is always the weak link.

There were numerous sessions about AI at last month’s CRM Evolution conference. Some things are still very much up for debate — even the very definition of “artificial intelligence” was the subject of some heated discussion. The promise is clearly there. However, the one variable that’s impossible to predict is the human element, especially in relation to technology.

AI for sales often is positioned as a panacea — something that will deliver results instantly and make life better for all involved. There are no panaceas, though. There’s nothing that works instantly. AI will change the game for sales — eventually — but that depends on three things happening.

The Right Data

First, the company’s staff will need to sit down and understand what they need to do to ensure their AI solutions learn the right things. That means analyzing the data they generate and understanding its value in the sales decision-making process.

Integrating disparate data sets is the first step; making decisions about different data’s weight in the decision-making process is next. Those hoping for a quick solution are deceiving themselves: Businesses have to understand themselves and their own data before they can expect a machine to understand those things.

Sales data may include the demographics of the customers and prospects from CRM, commissions data on sales behaviors, data about the usage of content in sales enablement systems, contract information, input from customer support, data about feedback and customer experience monitoring tools, and much more — and it’s likely to vary from business to business.

The Right Format

Next, businesses have to ensure that the data they have determined to be critical to the success of an AI solution is in a format that can get into the AI system automatically and with as little ongoing human intervention as possible.

Deciding at this stage that some data sets are just too hard to get into AI is an admission that you don’t plan to put in enough work to make it effective. If that is the case, stop work on any project as early as possible, because otherwise you’ll simply be investing in a system that allows you to make incorrect or incomplete decisions faster. You probably can make those incorrect decisions manually at a far lower cost.

The Right Commitment

Third, the team overseeing this early work needs to keep at it even after the system is in place. Just like lead scoring, or self-service customer support, or any of a number of things that are supposed to automate processes, adjustments will be needed over time to avoid the system sliding into obsolescence.

This isn’t just about the team staying alert about its task; leadership has to ensure that this gets priority, and that the team is allowed to continue its work instead of being moved to other tasks.

AI is never done learning, because customers, products and services, markets, and the data that businesses collect continually evolve and change.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

These things sound like a lot of work — and they are. The good news is that since sales AI platforms are still in their early stages, these three concepts can be acted upon now.

When the right AI technology hits the market, your business can be prepared with an understanding of the data needed, the weighting for that data in the decision-making process, an integration strategy for that data and, most importantly, a mindset that acknowledges that the work on refining AI is never going to be complete.

Sales AI, when it’s implemented well, will save salespeople time, and allow them to be far more productive than they are today.

Companies planning an AI-enabled future need to invest the time, thought and money to make sure they have a foundation for an AI solution that works — both when the system is first turned on and over time.
end enn 3 Ways Your Sales Organization Should Prepare for AI


Chris%20Bucholtz 3 Ways Your Sales Organization Should Prepare for AIChris Bucholtz has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2009. His focus is on CRM, sales and marketing software, and the interface between people and technology. He currently serves as director of content marketing for
CallidusCloud and writes the Stevie Award-winning Lead to Money blog. Email Chris.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CRM Buyer