In recent months we’ve seen investments in artificial intelligence (AI) from all the big players – Google, Salesforce, Amazon, and Microsoft – which suggest that AI everywhere may not be that far off.

One area where AI is poised to make a big impact is in sales. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of all B2B transactions will take place without human intervention.

With that in mind, could your sales team eventually be replaced by robots? The experts suggest that AI could do a lot to help salespeople accomplish their targets and let them focus on what really matters – closing deals.

Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica, an AI SaaS company, says that its AI-powered sales assistant tool helps salespeople spend less time on back and forth prospecting and following up – a phase that he calls important, but oftentimes routine and tedious for busy salespeople.  

Alex Terry, Conversica CEO“Using AI technology our AI-powered sales assistant automatically contacts, engages, qualifies, follows up with leads using natural two-way email conversations,” Terry tells Talkin’ Cloud in an interview. “We follow up in a really natural way back and forth until those leads convert into an opportunity and agree to get on the phone with a salesperson, or they opt out. It’s like every sales funnel – not every lead becomes a paying customer.”

“We literally read the email messages and we interpret the sentiment and intention of what the leads are saying,” Terry says about its AI tool, which it sells on a SaaS subscription basis. “We read those replies, we pull out key information – phone numbers, best times to call – a lot of key questions that they might be asking, and then we expertly hand off those leads to an appropriate human salesperson to close the deal.”

The AI-powered assistant “really becomes part of our customers’ sales team” Terry says, as customers give it a name, a title, and its own email address. (Interestingly enough, customers’ typically give it a female name).

The assistant helps engage every lead in a conversation, preventing potential customers from falling through the cracks. While marketing automation and sales CRM platforms, such as Marketo and Pardot, have become more sophisticated, using analytical scoring to prioritize leads, Conversica can take that one step further by contacting all of the leads, even if at first glance they don't seem like they will translate into paying customers. 

“What we see happening with some of our customers is say they get 1,000 leads and 200 of those leads score really high, maybe score 90 out of 100, and the rest score less than that,” he says. “Those top scoring leads go directly to the best salespeople in the organization and they follow up immediately…the rest of those leads go to Conversica, we follow up using natural email conversations back and forth, and sift out which leads turn into hand raisers.”

Conversica integrates with 48 different marketing automation and sales CRM packages, including Salesforce. The company will be at this week’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco at booth 124.   

“As Salesforce makes a bigger investment in using AI, to really help prioritize the work of the team, we think that’s really smart,” Terry says about Einstein, Salesforce’s AI that’s built into the core of its platform. “That’s a great complement to what we do. We don’t try to guess which leads are going to turn into customers, we have a conversation with every single one of them in a cost-effective way.”

“There’s a lot more investment going into AI – it’s going from trick to a real tool. It’s going from a curiosity to something that is solving genuine business problems, and that’s why we’re so excited because obviously Conversica’s focus is solving a real business problem.”