By Roy Rasmussen

Artificial intelligence is shaking up sales engagement across multiple industries. One of the latest to feel the impact is the travel industry, where the Hopper mobile app is harnessing AI to book various vacation getaways. Designed by a former Expedia executive, Hopper uses AI to not only find the best deals on trips, but also to suggest trips based on a customer’s travel history, interests and profile.

Similar to the way Netflix suggests a movie based on a customer’s viewing history, Hopper makes travel recommendations by comparing a customer’s travel profile with that of others who have similar backgrounds. Conversion rates for trips recommended by the app’s artificial intelligence algorithm are 2.6 times higher than those for trips customers search for manually, with the result that 1 in 4 bookings made through Hopper are suggested by AI.

Hopper’s impressive closing rate illustrates why industry watcher Accenture is predicting AI could boost sales profits across 16 industries over one third by 2035. Here’s a look at three ways AI is helping companies increase sales engagement.

Locating Untapped Leads

One way artificial intelligence is boosting sales is by helping companies mine sources of untapped leads. AI can analyze your customer database to identify your best customers, how they became your customers, what they buy from you and why they buy from you.

This information can be used to create an ideal buyer persona, which can then be used to mine social media for other prospects who fit the same profile. AI can also score incoming leads to evaluate how well they match your ideal buyer persona. By using this method, you can rapidly grow your database of qualified leads.

For example, one seminar and training company was struggling to acquire customers. They contracted marketing agency Reach Marketing, which determined that the company lacked an ideal buyer profile for effective prospecting. After developing a buyer profile — and then using it to identify matching prospects — the company was able to boost its click rate by 28 percent and increase conversions by 63 percent. Using a similar method, a leading CRM platform was able to multiply its lead volume by four while lowering costs per lead.

Automating Personalized Sales Interactions

Artificial intelligence is also helping companies use automation to make personalized sales presentations 24/7, even when live agents aren’t immediately available. One tool for doing this is recommendation engines, which analyzes a customer’s browsing and buying history, compares it with that of other customers, and makes upsell and cross-sell recommendations based on the results.

According to recommendation engine provider Yupsify, its average client generates 10 percent of its online sales through recommendations. Some companies like Amazon generate more than one third of their sales through recommendations.

Additionally, a powerful emerging counterpart of recommendation engines is dynamic creative optimization, or DCO. This technology uses real-time analysis of online behavior patterns to customize ad content for individual Internet browsers or website visitors, automatically promoting higher conversion rates. International Data Corp. predicts real-time ad personalization becoming a dominant force in sales by 2020.

For call centers, interactive voice response systems can predict a caller’s intent and adapt to their commands, thereby eliminating the need for IT assistance. IVR can also take the form of call routing, outbound calls or self-service.

Meeting Customer Communication Preferences

Another way AI is boosting sales engagement is helping companies reach prospects through their preferred communication channels. AI tools can analyze an individual’s communication habits and determine which communications channel would most appeal to them.

As it turns out, an increasing number of customers prefer AI-powered automated communications. Case in point: A recent Grand View Research report found that 45 percent of global users now prefer chatbots as their primary customer service communication tool. In particular, consumers prefer chatbots, because they’re able to get assistance almost instantly for simple questions 24/7/365, a SurveyMonkey poll shows. This, in turn, drives sales by boosting customer satisfaction rates and creating upsell opportunities for customers using automated communication channels.

It’s Time to Start Untapping More Qualified Leads

Wouldn’t your company want to mine untapped leads by cloning ideal buyer personas? Ai provides that mechanism — and then some.

Additionally, this technology can boost conversion rates through personalized recommendations and ad content, enabling companies to identify customers’ preferred communication channels and meet their communication preferences through automated self-service options.

As an increasing number of companies embrace these types of AI-driven sales tactics, artificial intelligence will empower sales teams to generate more qualified leads, improve their conversion rates, and make more sales.

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

Sales stock photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock