Zoho’s Zia, the virtual sales assistant is reshaping sales

Sridhar Vembu, CEO, Zoho Corporation

In the world of many Einsteins’ (Saleforce Einstein is AI built into CRM platform), Zoho wishes to be the Nikola Tesla of the CRM world. And rightly so, with a user base of 300,000 companies worldwide over the last decade, the growing popularity of Zoho has made it every salesperson’s go-to-tool.

Now sales process just got smarter with the launch of Zia, the AI powered sales assistant that suggest workflows, detects anomalies and much more. While analytics and forecasting have become a de facto industry standard when it comes to CRM software, Zia uses machine learning and data mining to not only learn from existing data but also adapt to the information its CRM is fed every day. The result – the numbers are always realistic, cites Vibhav Vankayala, Product Marketing Manager – Zoho CRM.

Inside Zia – the virtual sales assistant

Zia is more just AI, she’s a sales assistant to every CRM user, shares Vankayala. “She’s with you right from contacting prospects to letting you know how a sale has affected your business goals,” he adds.

This is how Zia, the newest AI powered sales assistant on the block streamlines workflows and boosts sale:

  • Through a series of dashboards, Zia shows how successful the sales activities have been
  • It spots anomalies that shouldn’t be happening, enabling the salesperson spot mistakes before it’s too late
  • It also speeds up the pipeline velocity, updating when the clients should be contacted, instead of dealing with voicemails and unopened emails.
  • It speeds up how to use CRM overall, by automating the tasks one would ordinarily do, and optimize performance

AI reshaping sales with granular insights

From actionable insights to smart recommendations that improves sales performance, Zia covers the whole gamut of sales process. “Zia’s dashboards showcase the activities that go into both pre-sales and post-sales (called Sales Trends and Sales Follow-up Trends). The dashboards have a trend prediction of how each activity is expected to turn out based on the history and the data stored on your software,” explains Vankayala.

The virtual sales assistant also keeps up with the changing trends and keeps a tab on seasonal variations, enabling sales workforce to better their performance around holidays and other important events.   “Since Zia works in real time, the trends also keep changing. If there are seasonal variations, it keeps that in mind too and is smart enough to figure out that it’s just how your business works – like understanding that Monday sales are expected to be low or that sales should be high during a holiday season. Zia also occasionally gives you a tip or brings something to your attention when she knows you could be doing something better,” he shared.

Case in point how Zia productizes the workforce with macros: It’s a known fact that salespeople spend hours on their CRM, Zia wants you to make that time productive, says Vankayala. Instead of scrolling through the CRM, applying the same changes to every contact, Zia figures out what one would normally do and makes macro suggestion. “These suggestions allows the person to perform a series of tasks at a click of button. Macros aren’t new to CRM, but some salespeople don’t know how to create one or don’t want to take the trouble of doing it,” he adds.

Is speech recognition on the way?

AIM quizzed Vankayala whether speech recognition capability for voice calls is in the pipeline? At the moment, Zia communicates via notifications and data. “Maybe down the line, we might move onto speech recognition but for now, Zia is focused on getting even smarter for the everyday salesperson,” he said.

And what sets it apart from market leaders such as Salesforce and Microsoft is that it is affordable yet reliable, working hard in the background, with or without the recognition. “In a world of many Einsteins’, we’d rather be Nikola Tesla,” he affirmed.

 Blueprint making all the buzz

Blueprint is technology built in the CRM that helps sales managers make their sales processes more compliant, repeatable and customized. As the title typifies, it acts as a guide for users, outlining what actions should be taken at what time. “The best feature to compare Blueprints is to workflows. Workflow automation is a string of activities, set up individually, that will be triggered once an action is done,” explains Vankayala. In other words, Blueprints are processes that have multiple outcomes and are set up so that one can follow different strings of actions at each stage. Blueprints can be set for the whole organization and allow contextual input at every stage to guide sales team.

Understanding the AI push to CRM

Just like any other industry, Artificial Intelligence is shaping CRM but what has triggered the rise of AI in this sector. According to a Forrester research, AI is driving the insight revolution and is going to steal a march over “less-informed peers”. Data and insights is going to become a coordinated strategy and enterprise-wide initiative, and where AI trumps traditional analytics is its scalability, cites Ajay Kashyap, co-founder of Boxx.ai. He elaborates why AI is emerging as the definitive technology , especially for customer-focused businesses who are in-line for AI revolution. Interestingly, Forrester has predicted a 300% increase in AI investment in 2017. In sales, the disruptive power of AI is seen in smart recommendations, filtering leads and giving cues on the right time to call among other aspects.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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