The sudden takeover of voice assistants is another milestone of digital transformation and, for many, it is yet another wake-up call. Humans are not alone anymore in any game, so why would sales be any different? However, can robots replace your sales reps? Also, the next question: is it good or bad?
Voice Command Is Taking Over
Humans love to have their voices heard – you can see the proof in the ever-growing popularity of voice-enabled digital assistants or VEDAs. The likes of Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are invading the households. What’s more, they are effortlessly slipping through the “personal mental firewalls,” a phenomenon that surprised many opponents concerned about privacy issues.
Consumer technology that becomes so popular so soon always finds its way to the offices. Think about mobile devices, and you are only a step away from the thought of robotic assistance fighting for a cubicle. Putting it simply: they will come regardless of you liking it or not. Besides, you have to love what your customers want to stay competitive.
Don’t try to find counterarguments just yet. Accepting VEDAs to the workplace is a spectrum rather than a point in time. The question is, what’s your stance on that spectrum? Are you looking to replace all your sales reps with a cheaper alternative, are you entirely against robots, or are you trying to find a compromise?
Naturally, some industries and professions are more prone to such automation of workflows. Translation, customer service or logistics are the first to come to mind, but legal, medical, or educational professions are not safe, either. Plus, wherever administration occurs, voice-activated functions will appear and, well, take people’s jobs.
On the other hand, it is still a long way until they can accurately analyze a person’s tone and realize emotions. It is also a long way until human customers get so comfortable with robotic interactions that they don’t mind a non-human selling them something. Today, Capgemini data shows 20% thinks so, and it will grow to 31% by 2020. So until then? Let’s make friends!
Reps and Bots = BFF?
So voice-enabled digital assistance might as well be a beginning of a beautiful friendship, and not just based on commanding a shopping helper hidden in a speaker in the living room. After all, is it that bad if the new digital assistants do the dirty work and make sure all the data is in place or flowing in the right direction? The administration is something humans hardly ever enjoy and, besides, the strengths of our kind lies more in finding creative solutions.
Voice assistants can be the first line of contact and sales enablement can support them by providing the data for the initial communications and research. Further along the pipeline, human reps can take over and give the different quality of the connection. Remember, empathy, caring, or even competitiveness are emotional traits that have a big say in a deal, and they all belong to the human character.
So reps don’t have to abandon their newly found BFFs even during a personal sales meeting with clients. When you integrate a VEDA into the mobile sales app, the whole experience changes for both the rep and the client and not as to exclude the agents.
The bottom line is that voice command function facilitates for example, the note-taking during and after the meeting when on the go, but if further developed by artificial intelligence, it can also “take part in the conversation,” and find out in the course of the meeting what materials it should present at which point.
Analytics and emotional intelligence: the digital assistants can analyze tons of data that helps the rep understand the client better and use his or her emotional judgment to find the right time and place to offer the right product.
Meanwhile, the personalization of VEDAs is an issue that you cannot ignore. Languages, accents, or “just” preferences and mental pathways are some of the things users expect their digital friends to recognize – sales reps are no exception. The best is when the sales reps know their way around programming: they can then make the voice assistant their partner and not their competitor.
Integration: The Peace Treaty of Sales
The basis of the friendship between a rep and a VEDA is the proper integration of the artificial intelligence into the systems used. Speaking of sales, it goes without saying that CMS or CRM will be the top references and the data within these systems peculiarly clean. Other than that, the integration itself is not rocket science, and it is available for mobile apps, too – so reps can take their new friends with them wherever they go.
You might want to develop your interface on the platform of Amazon, Apple, or Google, but integration is a more viable option you should consider. That is the starting point if you want to upgrade your mobile business application to the latest standards, and it only involves some particular API’s completed with the specific tools provided by your developers.
Essential voice assistant features for sales can be the following:
- Communication: Your VEDA will call, text or email anyone on the contact list
- Content: It mines the documents, presentations, images the rep needs
- Scheduling: Appointments, follow-up calls, conference attendances, report preparation times
- Navigation: Finds the way to and from meetings
For that, you will need some key technology like speech-to-text (STT) and text-to-speech (TTS). Furthermore, it can even have noise reduction and voice biometrics (to recognize the rep’s voice). We bet it will not be long until even more features become mainstream and VEDAs will be able to adjust their tones and languages to the user automatically or also develop their personalities.
No matter how artificial intelligence and voice assistance is all the rage these days, let’s not forget about conscious professionals to provide the right input for the technology and use the human creativity to find out more business cases where robots can add value.