“Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, machine learning — whatever you’re doing if you don’t understand it — learn it. Because otherwise you’re going to be a dinosaur within 3 years.” ~Mark Cuban
Sales Innovator created sales robots to take on the time-consuming and tedious task of outreaching to prospects and waiting for prospects to engage and show interest. With sales development representatives spending more than 60% of their time researching, sending, and replying to emails, we at Sales Innovator built a robot that could be more effective and less expensive at sending sales outreach emails and qualifying leads. In this chapter, we will introduce you to:
1. The challenges with the existing sales process
2. How sales robots can help you solve many of those challenges
3. Technologies used by sales robots
4. The future of sales robots
Challenges with The Existing Sales Process
Before inventing the idea of having a sales robot replace significant sales outreach efforts, we saw several sales process problems preventing companies from accelerating their sales that we wanted to solve and that sales robots helped us solve.
High Financial Hurdle to Hire A Salesperson
For companies that want to grow but have not quite achieved product-market fit or just reached product-market fit but needed a boost in market awareness, the cost of hiring a salesperson is a significant investment with lots of risks. Executives are skeptical if they could hire the right salesperson. Would that salesperson be able to deliver an ROI? Was it the right time to employ the salesperson? Would they be able to afford a salesperson? Was the company sure of what target markets to pursue, and was there enough marketing material created to help the salesperson sell? All these questions are valid, and the $107k-$147k investment companies have to make to test out their need was a significant gamble for a resource-strapped company.
Could there be a solution that would prove the market first, and once we had more certainty, could we then hire a salesperson? Is there a lower-cost alternative that could help a company bootstrap its growth instead of having to raise capital to hire a sales team?
Limited Sales Staffing Alternatives
There are some alternatives to hiring a salesperson, such as having the founder spend more time selling or outsourcing sales, but these alternatives have their challenges. Although a founder is and should be the companies first salesperson, the founder has many responsibilities that limit him or her from focusing on sales, and this option is not scalable.
Outsourcing sales is an option that can range from $36k for an offshore salesperson in the Philippines to a top contractor in the United States that can cost $120,000. The challenges with going for an offshore alternative, although less expensive, can be many. Language barriers, communication barriers, cultural issues, quality, trust, time difference issues, high turnover are among a few problems with offshoring sales.
Could there be another alternative that would be affordable as an offshore salesperson, but with onshore contractor benefits?
Salespeople Limited Bandwidth to Reach Many Prospects
Even if a company hires one or many salespeople, there are human limitations to the number of people each salesperson can contact. Due to training, meetings, sick days, vacation days, preparation, breaks, lunchtime, the typical salesperson spends 13 hours per week sending emails and typically sends 36.2 emails per day. They also spend 21% of their day talking to prospects. Although we try to optimize their efficiency and maximize every second of their time, salespeople are humans, and engaging in outbound sales day after day is challenging. No wonder sales jobs have such a high turnover.
If you invest $36k or $200k on a salesperson, they both have the same amount of time in the day to send emails and make calls, and on average, you will get similar performance.
Could there be a way for us to get more output from a salesperson to reach more contacts via email and phone calls without burning out the salesperson?
Technology Limiting Salespeople
Salespeople are time-constrained, but they are also technology constrained. Spam filters have become smarter, and they monitor the number of emails sent by a domain, and if they see spikes in email traffic that are not consistent over the week or month, they will start sending your emails to spam folders. Spam fighting technology and legislation have become more advanced, making it hard for salespeople to stay on top of the changes and best practices. Consequently, even if the salesperson tries harder and sends more than 36.2 emails per day, that spike, if significant, may jeopardize your whole domain and your sales team's emails.
Could there be a fail-safe way to help salespeople send more successful emails, stay on top of technology and legal policy, and lower the risk of jeopardizing our domain credibility?
Limited Insights Helping Prioritize A Salespersons Time
Salespeople have limited insights into what they know about a prospect. Using email software, they can understand if a person opened or viewed their email. If using specific software, you can also see a prospect landing on a webpage what they saw. With more software and with the use of a data scientist and potentially a developer, you can take all the prospects that received your email and landed on your webpages and rank them in order of most interested.
If you reach out to hundreds of prospects and many of them click on your emails and land on your pages, it becomes challenging for a single salesperson to correlate the data and prioritize the prospects. The more data you provide a salesperson and the more leads he or she is asked to focus on, the more likely people will get dropped, and follow-up will not happen effectively. Human salespeople can only scale to focus on so many leads.
Could artificial intelligence and technology help salespeople quickly prioritize prospects and manage more leads for salespeople so they could be more effective at scale?
Marketing and Sales Collaboration
It is a proven fact that when marketing and sales collaborate, the team is more effective, and better outreach and more sales can happen. The challenge is that salespeople are busy, and they have their approach set and new training and marketing materials take time to incorporate. The same thing happens with marketing; for them to deliver the best marketing materials, they need to test and optimize, but when sales are slow to adopt, marketing does not have enough data to optimize. Consequently, the gains from working together that we expect do not happen.
Could we find a way to help marketing and sales best work together to deliver better results? Could the sales team have confidence in marketing and know that what they deploy will provide a higher ROI in their efforts?
After years of experimenting and understanding the problem, we saw a business need for an alternative sales staffing method that was as effective as a local salesperson but less expensive than an offshore salesperson, and the ROI and cost per lead for this alternative staffing model needed to be very apparent. Additionally, the new staffing model required to:
· Scale quickly and have the trust of the company that it would deliver effective results at-high quality.
· Effectively navigate the spam technology gauntlet and stay away from getting flagged.
· Have integrated technology that would allow salespeople to know who was interested based on their engagement without doing a lot of integration and data science work.
· Allow marketing to launch and test campaigns on the fly to see what approach gives the best ROI. Then present sales with the best method that showed a proven success.
Problems Solved by Sales Robots
After trying various marketing automation software systems with multiple types of creative sales sourcing options and watching many movies about robots, we realized that the solution companies were seeking was not a human solution but was an artificial intelligence solution. Similar to how robots dominated the calling space, we thought artificial intelligent robots could also help provide an alternative sales sourcing option for companies.
Sales robots are much less expensive to deploy than humans. Companies would never have to worry about turnover, bonuses, office space, benefits, vacation days, insurance, attitude, incentives, and office hours. Sales robots can work 24x7 and never run out of energy. A sales robot costs about $79.99 a month compared to hiring a sales development representative ($8,916.67 - $12,250) or outsourcing sales to a contract ($3,000 - $10,000). Companies deploying sales robots see an ROI of 1,323% vs. hiring salesperson and sales robots have a significantly low cost per lead.
High Degree of Trust
Sales robots follow the command from a marketer, salesperson, or administrator that defines the landing page, email templates, and interaction that a sales robot can perform. Sales robots do not currently reply to prospects but notify salespeople when prospects are ready to talk. Sales robots cannot commit errors unless defined by a human. Once a human defines how a sales robot should engage, a sales robot team can reach out to thousands of people.
Intelligence Spam Engine and Compliance Features
Behind a team of sales robots are the Sales Innovator compliance and the spam-fighting team that is continually building Intelligence into each sales robot and creating processes to make sure that emails arrive and do not land on spam folders. Sales Innovator acceleration clients get added consultation to make sure their emails and landing pages are optimized. Also, consultants will help companies adopt strategies to warm-up IP addresses, ensure companies have redundant domains and embrace the best practices to make each sales robot highly effective.
Advanced Sales Technology Integration Out of The Box
The Sales Innovator platform has integrated the best email marketing automation features, dynamic landing pages, artificial Intelligence, big data, content marketing, personalization, and collaboration into each robot. In this way, companies can launch sales robot campaigns without requiring developers, data scientists, or other third-party products that alone charge $99+ per user per month. Companies can also easily integrate sales robots with any domain and email provider, CRM company, and lead database.
Giving Marketers the Freedom to Innovator and Optimize
Sales Robots give marketing the freedom to launch their own sales team to support new accounts or markets they are trying to enter or grow. Marketers no longer have to ask for a salesperson’s attention to test, they can test themselves, and when marketers see results, they can show sales and quickly get them on board. Sales will love the qualified leads and best practices they can use to optimize their own sales efforts. Having the added way to test and optimize will perfect marketing's output and accelerate sales capacity.
Technology Used to Solve Sales Problems
Sales Robots are powered by artificial intelligence technology that allows them to: (1) look and feel, (2) send emails, (3) share content, (4) qualify leads, and (4) communicate like humans. At Sales Innovator, we built several vital technologies and applied Artificial Intelligence to the technology to simulate the best salespeople to find leads and qualify prospects. Here are key technologies used by our sales robots:
Advanced Personalization- Each sales robot can personalize content, emails, and landing pages for each prospect they are targeting. If a prospect clicks on any piece of content, the sales robot knows not to send the content to the prospect. The sale robot also knows when to stop sending content to a prospect based on the administrator's rules.
Email Automation- Sales robots can send individual emails and email sequences to prospects. Based on administrator rules, sales robots can send emails when prospects are most receptive. Artificial Intelligence helps send warm-up emails, coordinates emails sent by sales robots, and manages emails sent by the domain, so the emails do not get detected by spam technologies.
Shared Inboxes -Shared inboxes centralize all the replies received from prospects into one inbox and give the administrator full control in replying and using pre-built templates to schedule appointments and send emails. Over time, shared inboxes will grow in Intelligence and respond on behalf of the administrator automatically.
Content Marketing- Sales Innovator has a built-in content management system that centrally stores all the content and manages all the custom links. Artificial Intelligence recommends content, analyzes the content's effectiveness, and ensures prospects are not included in multiple email campaigns or sent the same content.
Actionable Analytics -Robots are excellent at analyzing all the data generated from prospect engagement, scoring each prospect and company based on their engagement, and then sending leads to salespeople. Robots can also recommend the best content, emails, call-to-action, and campaigns based on past performance.
Enterprise Readiness Features- As your team grows, the Sales Innovator platform is set-up for managing various sales robots and departments. Invite team members, centralized billing, add custom domains, and manage email connections.
Compliance - Sales Innovator, is designed for providing transparency and compliance; our team of experts is always adding features and processes to stay up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations.
Integrations -Sales robots integrate with your existing marketing and sales systems. We support all major email providers, customer resource management systems, and prospect databases.
Every day we are adding more features and intelligence to our robots. We are at the beginning of seeing how Artificial Intelligence will improve the sales process.