Table of Contents
What is a Sales Chatbot?
A sales chatbot is a specialized form of artificial intelligence software that simulates conversation with human users over the internet to facilitate the sales process. It can engage with customers, answer their queries in real-time, recommend products, guide them through the purchase process, and provide post-sales support.
Sales chatbots significantly enhance the customer experience by:
- Being available 24/7
- Providing instant responses
- Personalizing the interaction based on the customer’s purchase history and/or preferences
They integrate into websites, social media platforms, and messaging apps. Using natural language processing (NLP), they can understand and respond to a customer’s messages in a human-like manner. This enables them to handle a range of tasks from initiating contact with potential leads to qualifying these leads by asking relevant questions, setting up appointments, and even handling transactions
Like other sales AI tools, chatbots allow human sales representatives to focus on more complex customer interactions. This efficiency can lead to increased sales volume and improved customer satisfaction. They also collect and analyze data from interactions to help businesses understand customer needs and preferences, ultimately helping to refine sales strategies.
- Conversational AI for sales
- Sales automated virtual assistant
What Does a Sales Chatbot Do?
Depending on how you integrate a chatbot into your sales process (and how advanced it is), its capabilities will vary. Generally, their primary functions are streamlining interactions and making the customer journey as seamless as possible.
Here ‘s a list of the 10 core activities a sales chatbot typically performs:
AI-driven chatbots initiate conversations with people who visit your website. When someone lands on your site from Google or an ad, chatbots capture their interest and collect details like their preferences and contact info.
Through interactive dialogue, chatbots determine the potential of leads by asking questions to assess their fit for your product. For leads that come from your website and marketing materials, they’re the first touchpoint in the sales qualification process.
Based on customer inputs, an AI-driven chatbot can suggest products or services that meet the user’s needs, like a personal shopping assistant.
A project management software vendor, for instance, might use it to ask users about their specific industry and business processes (e.g., marketing, IT, task management, client relationship management). With the info they have, they can route the customer to an appropriate landing page or recommend a specific product tier or suite of features and add-ons.
Chatbots provide instant responses to common customer questions regarding product details, pricing, or policies, which can help overcome barriers to the sale. They may also route your visitors to a knowledge base, FAQ page, or specific article that addresses their question or concern.
The main reason you’d use a chatbot is to automate customer communication. By engaging customers with interactive content, quizzes, or helpful tips, chatbots keep the user engaged, and increase the likelihood of closing a sale. This saves time for your sales team and improves the buying experience for customers.
Businesses also use chatbots to coordinate with calendars to schedule calls or meetings between potential customers and sales representatives. They integrate with Calendly, Google Calendar, Outlook, Salesforce, and other sales tools. As qualified leads move through the sales funnel, they’ll eventually reach a page where they can book a call with the sales rep directly.
You might not be able to sell your entire product or service through chatbots (especially as a SaaS vendor or contract manufacturer), but they can certainly handle some of the work. Advanced chatbots integrate with your payment system and allow customers to complete purchases directly through the chat interface.
They can also handle upselling, cross-selling, and simple subscription management functions like upgrades, downgrades, and cancellations. This simplifies the purchase process and makes it easier for customers to manage how they do business with your company.
Post-interaction, chatbots can ask for feedback, which is valuable for improving products, services, and the sales process itself. During the interactions, they pick up keywords from support queries and sales conversations and translate that information to tangible insights you can use to improve your product, offer better support, and optimize your sales and marketing operations.
Chatbots deliver after-sales support by answering post-purchase queries, helping with returns or exchanges, and maintaining customer relationships. They route complex queries to someone from your support or customer success team, but they handle the majority of incoming service requests on their own.
A perfect example of this is how chatbots assist customers who want to cancel a subscription or trial. Instead of having an awkward conversation with a sales rep, users can opt to speak to the chatbot and get help instantly.
By providing post-sale support and routing customers to the best information for their needs, they improve product adoption rates and times. You can also program your chatbot to offer deals (e.g., a free month of access to your service) in return for staying instead of cancelling. Over time, your chatbot helps customers get more value from using your product and keeps them from leaving.
How Sales Chatbots Work
Sales chatbots facilitate a rep-driven process by working alongside human sales representatives to optimize the sales funnel, from initial engagement to the final purchase.
Let’s look at a step-by-step breakdown of how sales chatbots function in this context:
1. Initial engagement
The chatbot initiates contact with website visitors or responds to their queries. When they first land on your website, it uses a pre-programmed ‘welcome’ message and presents a series of questions to get to know the customer or options for the visitor to choose from.
Usually, the very first pop-up asks the user whether they’re looking for support with their current product, help navigating the site, or want to learn more about the product or service. Based on their response, the chatbot takes a specific path and collects information that will help qualify the lead and understand their needs.
2. Lead qualification
The chatbot asks a series of questions to determine the lead’s potential and interest level. It assesses whether the user fits the target demographic or has a genuine interest in the product. This can include questions about their industry, pain points, budget, and timeline.
- What industry are you in?
- How many employees do you have?
- Which features are you most interested in?
These questions help determine if the lead falls into your target market and if they have a high potential for conversion.
You can program your chatbot to either qualify or disqualify the lead based on certain criteria and responses. This might be their interests, use cases, company size, or any other data point that helps you determine whether they’re a good fit for your product.
If they’re qualified, it routes them to a landing page or booking application for further action. Otherwise, it may suggest alternative resources or products that better fit their needs.
3. Information gathering
During the conversation, the chatbot collects essential information from your customers, like:
- Contact details
- Their needs
- Specific preferences
- Budget constraints
- How they discovered your product
This data is crucial for personalized follow-ups. And the sales team uses these preliminary chat conversations to understand the customer’s context on the first sales call or demo.
4. Query-based lead segmentation
A sales chatbot categorizes leads by analyzing the specific questions and requests made by potential customers during their interaction with the chatbot. It uses predefined rules or machine learning algorithms to interpret the user’s intent and categorize them into different segments. For instance, if a user asks about premium products, the chatbot may tag them as high-value leads, while questions about features may tag leads as “interested in product details.”
Segmentation also allows for personalized follow-ups; for example, high-value leads can be directed to a sales team specializing in premium services, while those interested in details can receive more informational content. This targeted approach makes your customers’ following interactions relevant to their needs and increases your team’s chances of converting them.
Over time, the chatbot can refine its segmentation strategy by learning which queries, customer qualities, and behaviors correlate with successful sales. So, it’s constantly optimizing your sales funnel.
5. Progression through the sales funnel
As the lead progresses through the sales funnel, the chatbot continues to engage with them and gather more information.
- Schedule calls and sales demos with sales reps based on availability and preferences
- Present relevant content to buyers at any stage of the purchase funnel
- Guide users through the website, helping them find the information they’re looking for
- Direct users to product pages, FAQs, or other relevant resources
- Suggest products
- Faciliatate sales transactions (in some cases)
If a particular website visitor has browsed your content, completed an action (e.g., subscribed to a newsletter or downloaded a PDF), or engaged with your chatbot multiple times, the bot will remember this. The next time that same user visits your website, they can expect personalized conversations with fewer preliminary questions.
6. Follow-up and nurturing
Your chatbot can perform follow-ups with leads,by sending them reminders and additional information that nudges them towards a purchase decision. By integrating it with your broader marketing tech stack, you can also leverage the chatbot to create and send personalized nurture campaigns via email (assuming they give you that information).
For example, when a lead responds positively to your chatbot’s question about pricing, they may be tagged as ‘interested in cost.’ You can then set up a follow-up email or text message with more information on pricing options and packages.
7. Post-sales support
It’s worth mentioning most of the functions a chatbot performs for its sales function translate to customer support/success. Just as it’s usually the first touchpoint for a new marketing qualified lead, it’s the first point of contact for an existing customer looking for assistance or support.
Integrating your chatbot with your CRM, customer success, and helpdesk software allows it to answer common frequently asked questions, troubleshoot issues, and automate ticket submissions and routing.
8. Data analysis and feedback to your sales team
Your chatbot stores data on every interaction. It analyzes various metrics like user engagement, customer sentiment, conversion rate, and response times. It also looks at the most common customer concerns, use cases, and objections. Your team can use this data to improve their sales strategy, marketing messages, product differentiation, and customer experience.
Benefits of Sales Chatbots
Unlike your sales team (which presumably works 9-5), a chatbot is just a software program. It doesn’t need to eat, sleep, or take a vacation. This means that it is available to assist customers and potential leads 24/7 without any breaks or delays.
With a chatbot, customers don’t have to wait for someone to pick up their support ticket or call them back. Most of your customers already conduct all their research online, and very few of them actually want to interact with a sales rep. That’s why 69% say they prefer using them and are more likely to search for chatbots directly for sales and support queries.
Most business leaders think about sales chatbots in the context of improving their conversion rates and streamlining their sales process. But chatbots are also great at bringing new leads into the funnel.
Since they sit in the corner of your website and engage users who click on certain pages or spend more time on specific URLs, chatbots can gather leads and send them to the CRM as soon as they become qualified (based on your rules).
For example, you can set an “interested in pricing” tag that corresponds to a call from your sales team. Or, a pop-up from your chatbot can prompt someone to book a demo when they otherwise never would have.
B2B sales is extremely relationship-driven, which helps to explain why 80% of B2B buyers say they expect the same (or greater) level of personalization as their B2C counterparts.
Since chatbots can track user interactions and understand their concerns and needs, they can personalize conversations to a remarkable degree. By monitoring every touchpoint with your customers — and understanding who’s moving toward a purchase or renewal — your sales team can deliver more relevant messages at the right time.
Chatbots reduce the costs of customer acquisition in several ways:
- By automating initial contact and lead qualification processes that would otherwise require human labor, you save on staffing expenses.
- They can handle multiple customers simultaneously, which increases sales efficiency and reduces the time and resources you need to convert leads into customers.
- Chatbots are available 24/7, so you won’t lose potential leads because of time constraints or limited human availability.
- They consistently gather data and interact with customers, so they provide accurate lead scoring and progressive profiling.
Since it generates new leads, improves sales velocity, and cuts out the need for human involvement in some of your most crucial but time-consuming sales tasks, implementing conversational AI is one of the most effective ways to reduce your CAC.
At the end of the day, there’s a limit to how many calls your sales team can make per day. Chatbots have no such limitation. They can handle anything that comes their way. And they can do so without a dip in quality or speed or a proportional increase in resources and costs.
Scalability is a general benefit for any type of SaaS product, and sales AI chatbots are no different. They seamlessly integrate with your sales channels while adapting to different languages and market needs without requiring extensive retraining or cultural adaptation.
Chatbots maintain consistent messaging through a combination of scripted dialogues, machine learning algorithms, and natural language processing (NLP).
- Scripted dialogues are predefined responses that ensure uniformity in answering frequently asked questions and common inquiries.
- For more complex interactions, machine learning algorithms help them understand the context and maintain consistency by using historical data to predict and match appropriate responses.
- NLP enables them to interpret and process user inputs, ensuring that responses are not only consistent but also relevant to the user’s intent.
AI chat tools can also access and leverage a centralized knowledge base. Since you program this ahead of time and it’s their sole reference point, they have no choice but to deliver uniform information across all customer interactions. So, their messaging always aligns with your company’s standards and policies.
Preliminary Lead Qualification
A chatbot can quickly weed out leads that are not a good fit for your product, saving your sales team time and effort. It also gathers important information about potential customers, making it easier for the sales team to personalize their follow-ups and increase conversion rates.
When you set predefined qualification criteria within its decision-making algorithms, it easily identifies and filters out leads that don’t meet certain parameters. Concurrently, it systematically captures and records data points from the interactions, like specific interests and behavior patterns, into a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
The chatbot’s integration with the sales stack automates mundane tasks and enriches lead profiles, both of which directly influence the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales pipeline.
Sales AI tools use NLP to understand and categorize the content of messages. They record specific details like product preferences, customer objections, common questions, and feedback.
The raw data is structured and fed into machine learning models, which identify patterns and trends in customer behavior. For instance, ML algorithms can discern which products are most asked about, at what times customers are most active, and what concerns are commonly associated with hesitation or abandonment of the sales process.
The chatbot’s analytics component can also track conversion metrics, allowing businesses to measure which interactions lead to sales and which do not. This helps in refining the chatbot’s conversational flows and responses to guide more prospects towards a conversion.
Enhanced User Engagement
Every step of the way, chatbots drive engagement with your potential customers. They ask thoughtful questions, provide prompt answers, and offer relevant resources to keep them engaged throughout the buying journey.
Furthermore, chatbots are conversational. Customers talk to chatbots like they would a human sales rep, but with less pressure and formality. Since it can automate customer conversations, it’s a fundamental element of personalization at scale.
Best Practices for Implementing Conversational AI For Sales
To get the most out of your sales chatbot, here are five best practices to keep in mind:
Understand your audience ahead of time.
That way, you can program as much accurate information into your chatbot as possible and improve its changes of bringing high-quality leads into your pipeline.
Choose a platform based on your audience’s preferred channels.
Some chatbots are geared towards social media channels like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Others focus on website and email integration. A few sales engagement platforms do it all (and more). Carefully consider where your audience hangs out and how they prefer to handle sales engagement.
Always offer escalation.
There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to solve a problem (robots can’t handle difficult queries). Your chatbot isn’t a cop out; it’s a way to get quick answers and resolution for simple queries while providing an easy pathway to your sales and support teams.
Opt for simple, user-friendly design.
Use clear, simple, and conversational language, provide clickable navigation options, and keep the design clean with only necessary elements. Position your chatbot in a small corner of your website to keep it out of the way for users who don’t need it.
Don’t be too sales-y.
Avoid pesky pop-ups and constant sales pitches. Instead, use the chatbot to truly help prospects with their buying journey. This builds trust and increases the likelihood of a sale in the long run.
Sales Chatbot Success Stories
The Danish insurance company implemented a chatbot named Rosa that streamlined internal operations, reducing the workload on staff and becoming a central hub for information, leading to quicker and more personalized service.
A data science SaaS company took a bold step by managing 100% of its initial customer inquiries through Drift chatbots, which helped pre-qualify leads and direct viable ones to human agents. This resulted in 25% of their open sales pipeline being influenced by the chatbot within six months.
An internet-based app testing platform saw a 400% increase in website conversion rate after deploying a chatbot, which helped reallocate human resources more efficiently and improved lead generation rates.
As a large cable operator, Charter Communications used chatbots to handle simple customer queries. In turn, they doubled processing speed and increased ROI by 5x within the first six months of implementation. They also saw a 44% cost reduction while maintaining their internal chat system.
A car accessory online retailer used a chatbot to reroute repetitive inquiries and enhance Facebook ad performance, achieving a 999% return on ad spend annually after refining its targeting with chatbot-collected data.
What to Look for in Sales Chatbot Software
Every chatbot will have NLP, AI/ML automation workflows, personalization capabilities, and an analytics engine. But, what else should you look for?
Here are four key features to consider when choosing sales chatbot software for your business:
- Integrations. Consider what other tools and platforms your chatbot can integrate with. CRM is the most important one because it’s the core of all your customer data and automation flows. Also look into CPQ software and sales enablement tools for seamless communication and data sharing.
- Sales channels. Can you use your chatbot on multiple channels? Some chatbot apps only work with one channel, while others offer multichannel support. You’ll need a chatbot that specifically supports the channels your customers’ preferred sales engagement channels.
- Customer support handoffs. You won’t just need your chatbot for sales operations. You’ll need it for customer support too. Make sure your chatbot software can handle both tasks well and facilitate smooth handoffs between teams.
- User interface design options. Not all chatbots are created equal, even in terms of looks. Some platforms will offer more design customization options than others, so choose one that aligns with your brand image and website aesthetics.
People Also Ask
How do you use a chatbot to increase sales?
You can program it to handle simple inquiries, prequalify leads, schedule appointments, or even make product recommendations based on customer data and behavior. The key is to use it as a helpful tool in the sales process rather than a pushy salesperson.
What is an example of a chatbot in sales?
An example of a chatbot in sales is Drift, which offers conversational marketing and sales solutions. Their chatbot can handle initial customer inquiries, prequalify leads, and route them to human agents when necessary. Another example is HubSpot’s Sales Hub, which includes a chatbot feature for lead generation and lead qualification. It can also schedule meetings and provide helpful resources to prospects.