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Will chatbots conquer sales departments?


Irina Kvashali

Due to our hyper-connected, ‘always-on’ lifestyles, the convenience of messaging apps and bots has been gaining significant traction. New business trends, for instance, have been appearing including Messenger-Based Sales, which prioritizes messaging apps as the primary communication channel between the customer and company.

Believe it or not, there are already 40 million brands and 300,000 bots active on Facebook Messenger alone. Messaging platforms not only help brands close more deals, but also increase sales productivity and motivation. Moreover, it’s predicted that by 2020, consumers will manage 85% of their relationships with brands without having to interact with a human agent at all. Does this mean that Messenger-Based Sales will conquer all other business communication channels, including email and phone, and directly impact the sales department?

Gathering contact information

One of the reasons chatbots will dominate the future of sales departments is because they can automatically collect customer data, which replaces incredibly mundane and repeatable tasks for sales reps. The alternative to manual entry is lead capture forms, which were revolutionary at the time for salespeople, but now forms are archaic and static. In the past, lead capture forms used to be more useful because email and phone calls prevailed as communication channels. Now, however, a chatbot can ease this process. It can detect sales readiness and — within the context of a conversation⁠ — find and gather valuable contact information for making a sale.

Case in point: a visitor to your company’s Facebook page asks a question over a chat, and the bot answers it and convinces the lead to schedule a meeting. If you only had forms implemented, the chances are high that you’d miss this hot lead.

Easy follow up

Another reason why chatbots can prevail in the future of sales departments is that they offer better follow-up than other forms of communication. The average person takes 90 minutes to answer an email and only 90 seconds to respond to a text. Email is designed as one-way communication with a single call to action, i.e., asking a potential customer for the date and time that suits them best to have a chat.

Speaking of cold calling, it’s 91% ineffective of the time. Studies find that 56% of consumers prefer to contact customer service representatives over messages than calling.

Chatbots are engaging

Chatbots are more engaging than other forms of communication not only because they’re asynchronous and aren’t limited to time or days of the week, but also because they offer various features. These include smileys, stickers and GIFs that make conversations more interactive. On average, over 5 billion emojis are sent on Facebook Messenger every day.

The popular American supermarket Whole Foods didn’t miss the growing trend toward chat apps and emojis, launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot in 2016. The bot was designed to help customers shop for groceries and new meals. A customer can easily discover a recipe by sending a food emoji, such as curry rice or spaghetti.

Similarly, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also created a Messenger bot to provide users with cooking directions and inspiration all via emojis. This fresh attitude towards communication is becoming the new norm, that will be further intensified as younger generations, who are favoring messaging apps, gain more buying power and enter the workforce.

Chatting is easy

Chatting feels lighter and less intrusive from the lead’s perspective. Phone calls often cause awkwardness as they may exert some pressure to answer the salesperson’s questions, so people dodge them or write fake phone numbers. Chatbots, on the other hand, allow customers to communicate with brands on-the-move, on their terms and whenever they want. This convenience is probably one of the many reasons why 67% of people say they will message businesses more in the upcoming years.

Chatbots are 24/7 automatic

Since phone calls and emails can’t keep up with customers’ expectations, and sales reps can’t be in the office around-the-clock, chatbots come in handy. It’s pretty obvious, but still worth mentioning that bots can not only run 24/7 but also move leads through the sales process automatically, without human effort.

Personalized, one-to-one buying adventure

A salesperson must guarantee that a customer gets what they’re asking via the platform they use and find most convenient. Chatbots can become customer’s assistants. Their analytics, for instance, can offer relevant information and guidance to potential customers. They can remember the customer’s purchase history and preferences, and offer automatic suggestions. To put it simply, chatbots can streamline and automate parts of a purchase process. Interestingly, according to one report, 44% of consumers say that they would become regular buyers of a brand that offers a personalized purchasing experience.

In the future, chatbots not only will enhance sales processes but even conquer sales departments. Think about it, after all, chatbots’ possibilities, such as identifying customer’s individual needs, making sure those needs are met, improving conversion rates by making businesses spend less money, and following-up/engaging with customers will only keep getting higher. They will allow sales reps to focus more on other creative, intricate work, as opposed to manual, repetitive, and mundane tasks.

Therefore, Messenger-Based Sales empowers us to complement our hectic schedules and lifestyles. It’s simply a better business decision that is already gaining traction and will most likely conquer the future of sales.

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