Companies using ‘emotional AI’ for sales enablement

Companies using ‘emotional AI’ for sales enablement

AI that can detect human emotions helps unearth a host of data from sales calls which can be ploughed back to reap rich benefits in terms of sales enablement

The sales rep might not be the only one watching you on your next virtual meeting. Some companies are employing “emotion AI” – a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that is able to detect human emotions – to monitor individuals on sales calls, provide feedback on their reactions and highlight the most engaging parts of the pitch. According to Verified Market Research, the Global Sales Enablement Platform Market size was valued at USD 1.7 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 7.3 Billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 19.14% from 2021 to 2028.

Sales Enablement Platform is highly popular owing to the digital transformation across the globe. The rising need of enterprises in order to enhance the business process is the factor that propels the growth of the market. The importance of sales enablement is growing among the business organization owing to its benefits.

AI-powered sales creates a customer-centric experience

Intensifying sales efforts with the innovation of new technology drives the growth of the market. For instance, the introduction of AI-enabled sales analytics in smarter enterprises helps to solve the existing business need. The integration of AI and machine learning (ML) analytics benefits the business organization to work with time effectivity, which enhances the new age business process. In addition, the changing consumer preferences owing to the lifestyle upsurge the need for sales enablement platform to offer a customer-centric experience. However, inconsistent user experience is expected to restrict the growth of the market. The use of the bad interface contributes to hamper the adoption of the software tools and counteracts productivity

Zoom’s conversational intel software stirs privacy issues

Zoom is one of the latest entrants to this burgeoning market, launching Zoom IQ for Sales last month. Described as a conversational intelligence software, it claims to offer “meaningful and actionable insights from customer interactions to improve seller performance and enhance customer experiences”. 

However, the announcement was met with opposition from a number of human rights groups and privacy campaigners. An open letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan – co-signed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center – called for the video communications company to halt its plans to advance the feature. “This move to mine users for emotional data points based on the false idea that AI can track and analyze human emotions is a violation of privacy and human rights.” According to Uniphore, one of the companies behind the technology, its emotion AI assistant ‘Q for Sales’ can “help sellers ‘read the room’, sense emotional cues, and improve engagement”. 

Psychological research backs up this assertion. The way that people communicate emotion is not universal and facial expressions are much more contextually sensitive than previously thought, according to a 2019 paper from psychology professors at the California Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. 

AI is useful in sentiment analysis

However, it could prove useful on sales calls. In situations where a salesperson may be speaking to multiple people on a video, it can be hard to determine who is engaging and who isn’t.  If you can have a machine gauging their reactions and determining at what point the CFO seems interested, it can be a helpful tool. To do this, the visual AI software analyses a number of elements of the conversation, including facial expressions, tone of voice, and people’s gestures. The platform can then give salespeople real-time feedback on sentiment and engagement to help them adapt their responses and, in theory, improve their sales conversions. 

Sybill is another platform that claims to use emotional intelligence to accelerate the sales process. The software looks to identify an individual’s body language or facial expression to highlight key moments; for example, whether someone is nodding along to a conversation or smiling. Salespeople can then revisit the recording to see when people were most engaged and which parts they should follow up on. 

Technology impact is still work-in-progress

Nevertheless, the technology’s impact in the sales context is yet to be proven. Both Uniphore and Sybill’s platforms launched earlier this year and are both currently conducting valuation studies to determine to what extent their AI programs can improve sales performance. Jason Bell is an associate professor of marketing at Saïd Business School and works on AI models for computer vision and natural language processing. He believes there is a lot of ‘overclaim’ in the emotion AI market. Relying on this technology in a sales context could lead people down dead ends. It dramatically oversimplifies emotional states.

Concerns around privacy, as raised in the open letter to Zoom, have also made people wary about implementing the technology. Companies are building safeguards to address such concerns. As a result, Q for Sales is an opt-in experience. With Sybill, users are notified that “the call is being recorded and notes are being taken,” although there is no reference to AI unless the user decides to reveal this. 

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