How This Startup Is Using Automatic Speech Recognition To Assist Sales Reps

Integrating AI to complement human intelligence in critical functions like sales and marketing is becoming a norm. Conversational AI has evolved from being a way to automate support and service interactions to supplementing complex interactions like selling. 

Sales and Marketing technology has historically helped in making sense of outcomes that have already happened, such as deals closed, campaigns completed, leads qualified, etc. However, with the help of AI professionals can now predict and alter outcomes by doing the right things in real-time.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with the founders of Salesken, one of the leading startups using AI to assist sales representatives, to understand how the startup is using AI and machine learning for the human-machine collaboration in the sales space.

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Founded in 2018 by Surga Thilakan and Sreeraman Vaidyanathan, Salesken is a conversational AI platform that analyses conversations and assists sales reps with cues or nudges in real-time to help them drive better outcomes. The platform also gives sales managers unparalleled visibility into the performance of their teams via qualitative analytics, identifying the gap between their top performers and more. The company raised its Series-A funding of 8 million USD earlier this year, which was led by Sequoia Capital.

How Is It Driving Advanced Speech Recognition

The flagship product Salesken is designed to help sales teams with real-time intelligence during their sales conversations and help them win more deals. Using speech to text technology, Salesken analyses every conversation a sales rep has. With the help of analytics and AI, the tool surfaces cues or talking points for the rep to navigate the conversation better. All these occur in real-time while the rep is talking to their customers.

Also, the cues are pulled via a complex decision engine, which weighs multiple signals from data sources such as previous customer interactions and customer sentiment and is designed to assist the rep in engaging the customer better.

On being asked how the product is different from others in the market, Thilakan pointed out that-

  • Using ASR (Advanced Speech Recognition) and AI/ML, Salesken can analyse and assist organisations with voice-based conversations. This is the majority of all sales interactions and significantly more complex to handle.
  • Unlike other conversational AI in the market, Salesken analyses conversations and provides sales reps with real-time cues. This enables not just measurement but also fixing the issues in real-time and showing dramatic improvements in sales conversion numbers.  

The Tech Behind It

The company is using Advanced Speech Recognition techniques to detect the content of the conversation. Vaidyanathan said, “This is particularly complex for Indian sales conversations which often switch between English and local languages. In order to understand the intent and infer the actual “meaning” of conversations, we use NLP and NLU (Natural Language Processing and Understanding).” 

He added, “This is important because our algorithms have to make decisions on what direction a conversation should go in. In order to populate cues for the users, we use deep learning neural networks to detect signals in the conversation.”

The company uses Machine Learning tools like Tensorflow and Pytorch at the backend. The “cues” are generated in real-time using Apache Kafka. The frontend or the user dashboards and client applications are built using React. And lastly, the iOS and Android apps were developed using SWIFT and Kotlin, respectively. 

Helping Sales Team Overcome Challenges Due To The Pandemic

Thilakan said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption in the sales-profession worldwide. For instance, teams that relied on meeting customers face to face (field sales) could not continue to operate like before, teams that were selling via telephony or teleconferencing faced problems in giving their salespeople access to tools like laptops and more. Salesken has helped solve all these problems by providing an Android and iOS app to the customers. 

Vaidyanathan added, “All sales reps need to do is download the app on a smartphone, and they can interact with their customers with no extra infrastructure. Moreover, they receive real-time cues on these conversations, which helps them sell better and improve their conversion rates even at a very challenging time.”

Future Roadmap

Currently, the company is focusing its product into three key sectors in India – education, finance and technology.  In the next five years, Salesken will seek to expand its footprint in sectors such as FMCG, pharmaceuticals, real estate and heavy engineering. 

“We also aim to explore new markets for the product, especially North America. There are several opportunities both in Enterprise and SME segments there which are heavily under-tapped” said Thilakan on a concluding note.

Ambika Choudhury
A Technical Journalist who loves writing about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A lover of music, writing and learning something out of the box.

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