In my quest to challenge the rep’s abilities, I had been playing a virtual game. And it’s entirely possible that someone else who does not work with phone reps every day would never have known their conversation was not of the human variety.
Robots have taken over our factories. Now, robots, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and speech recognition software are converging to become, perhaps, the future telemarketing and inside sales reps.
It seems incredible, doesn’t it? After all, most of us are more familiar with older technology — the all-too-familiar answering systems used by customer service departments. They ask us questions. We respond. They don’t understand our answers. We answer again and again until we finally are pushed to the live person who we wish had answered in the beginning.
Given these experiences, it’s understandable if you’re doubtful that this confluence of technologies could revolutionize how we sell complex B2B solutions. However, technology has moved forward. You can now program a voice recognition system to detect various accents, recognize voices correctly and understand what people are saying. Then AI enables you to develop responses.
How B2B Telemarketing Might Work in the Future
Typically, there’s a substantial amount of research required before making the initial B2B call to sell a highly technical solution. That takes time. But you can harness AI to conduct the upfront research to learn about the prospect and the company for which they work.
Just like our reps today can’t get all the information they need from secondary sources, some of the data will still have to be gathered over the phone. But a robot can do that, networking through to the right person. The beauty of it is that they don’t get disillusioned making call after call. They don’t burn out. And they can be programmed with all the responses required to get through gatekeepers and gather data. Once they acquire what they need, they can populate CRM systems.
For example, when the robot makes contact with Kristen Case, the supposed decision maker, and she says, “I am not the right person, you should talk to John Smith,” the robot can add John to the CRM and fill in required fields. The robot then may say, “Can you transfer me to John?” Kristen responds, “No, he’s on vacation this week.” Then the robot not only sets up a call for the following week, but also programs itself to start the conversation with “Hello John, I hope you had a good vacation.”
The next step is to have an intelligent conversation. You already have likely put together a series of frequently asked questions and answers as well as sales objections and rebuttals which you use time and time again. With sophisticated AI and voice recognition, the robot can do the same — listen to voices and come back with pre-programmed logical and persuasive responses. Over time, you gain knowledge and can program your computers to be more and more sophisticated.
Sometimes, it’s possible that the robot comes across a new issue for which its only answer might be, “That’s a really good question. I will have my colleague who has more expertise in that issue contact you.” Alternatively, you could have your call system set up to transfer the call immediately to an experienced telemarketing rep.
The Impact of Technology on Future B2B Telemarketing Departments
Thus, these new technologies have the potential to free reps from repetitive, mundane calls. While some reps will lose their jobs, those who remain will have a high level of expertise and the ability to handle a conversation that requires some out-of-the-box thinking.
The new technology surrounding the telemarketing process will require businesses to rethink how they handle inside sales calls. To keep a competitive edge, they’ll likely need to invest in AI and complementary technologies. Also, they’ll need to develop expertise in programming the AI solution with all the ideal answers and rebuttals required to interact with the customer. It may lead more enterprises to outsource their B2B telemarketing to companies that specialize in it.
How long will it be before this new vision of telemarketing’s future materializes? I can’t say for sure. I estimate, however, that because computer power is expanding exponentially and becoming increasingly affordable, it’ll happen over the next decade or two.
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