SalesTechStar Interview with Sonny Dasgupta, Head of Product Marketing at Conversica
How can sales and marketing teams use conversational AI experiences to align better on driving initiatives and end goals? Sonny Dasgupta, Head of Product Marketing at Conversica weighs in with a few thoughts:
Welcome, Sonny, tell us more about yourself and your role at Conversica?
I’m Sonny Dasgupta, and I am the Head of Product Marketing at Conversica.
I’ve focused much of my career on building trusted customer relationships through the ethical and consensual use of their data. My background spans cybersecurity, governance, risk and compliance (GRC), and now Conversational AI. I’m delighted to be a part of this evolving field. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but rather a student of these converging fields of big data, AI, and marketing automation—and how each of these technologies work in concert to deliver better customer experiences and drive revenue opportunities.
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How has Conversica’s platform evolved over the years to help further the goals of sales, marketing, and customer success teams?
Over 10 years ago, Conversica emerged as an AI technology helping automotive dealerships more effectively manage internet leads. It’s hard for a small team of salespeople to promptly touch every incoming lead with a personalized message. Artificial intelligence changed that and helped scale personalized outreach, resulting in more engaged customers and more people coming into the dealership.
Conversica has evolved since then, and so have the pre-sale and post-sale use cases. Conversational AI helps customer-facing teams across industries to attract, acquire, and grow revenue throughout the customer lifecycle. In fact, we’ve generated more than $20 billion in revenue for our customers.
Yes, some business leaders are still anxious about letting an AI interact with leads and customers. But with a 98% accuracy rate, Conversational AI is far more accurate than any human. Some of the most recognized brands are using Conversica today and getting business outcomes that are impossible to deliver solely through human-powered initiatives. This should inspire confidence for business leaders skeptical of using an AI to touch their customers.
Conversational AI is not about replacing employees but about augmenting teams. It’s about making every connection personal by blending the scalability of technology with the creative problem-solving only people can provide. That’s the future of work.
AI-powered systems are playing a crucial role for marketers and salespeople today. Can you talk about its growing impact on the global market? How have you been seeing customer success and other customer-facing teams capitalize on these tools, a few highlights/examples?
We’ve all experienced disconnects between Marketing teams and Sales teams. Salespeople complain they aren’t getting good leads and Marketing complains that Sales isn’t working the leads they generate.
The truth of the matter is that Sales cannot keep up with the volume of leads; forcing team members to focus on some leads and leaving potential opportunities unpursued. Conversational AI helps repair this relationship by alleviating bandwidth while driving opportunities, making it the ideal tool for Marketing and Sales teams.
Conversational AI helps you qualify leads before handing them to the Business Developemtn Representative (BDR) team. This ensures Sales teams are getting better quality leads from Marketing. Additionally, Conversational AI helps Sales teams keep up with high lead volume by automating the repetitive tasks of lead follow-up, asking the lead if they are interested in talking to Sales, and accelerating hot leads to the Sales Rep.
But this is true for Customer Success teams as well. When Customer Account Managers are responsible for 50 or even 100 customers each, they’re forced to prioritize a few highly invested customers while falling short for longtail customers. Leading indicators of poor relationships include lack of adoption or low usage. Conversational AI can autonomously assist these customers in the moment to prevent churn.
We have a customer in the technology and information services space that uses Conversational AI for Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success. The challenges they were trying to solve included tackling the large number of inquiries they received and retaining/growing revenue from their base. In the end, they saw a 39x return on their investment.
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At a time when account and prospect prioritization is becoming integral to optimize marketing and sales processes, in what ways have you seen leading brands and teams optimize how they do what they do? A few thoughts on the top challenges you’ve observed as well?
Marketers and Salespeople are putting a lot of effort into Account-Based Marketing—and for good reason. ABM helps these teams target the right customers, the right accounts, and the right buyers within those accounts.
But there is still the challenge of scale. While ABM Platforms are great at Account Understanding and Account-specific Messaging, they struggle with Account-based Engagement. So there is an execution gap here. Surveys consistently show the challenge of scaling ABM outreach effectively. The harsh reality is that if you rely on human-based initiatives only, your ABM is going to fail. When ABM is matched with Conversational AI, businesses see better Marketing and Sales alignment, more engagement, and higher performance.
We’d love to dive into the benefits of Conversational AI here. How is Conversational AI evolving to enable better sales/customer-facing efforts? Can you talk about the best examples you’ve seen?
The benefit of Conversational AI is its ability to autonomously engage prospects and customers in personalized, two-way conversations at scale that drive towards the next best action. This means leads never go unnoticed, customers never go unengaged, and opportunities are never left unrealized.
We have a customer in the technology space who struggled with excessive lead volume and low engagement. After using our AI Assistants, the Marketing team was able to touch more leads, boost engagement rates from 0.5% to 4%, and drive 10x conversions from content leads. The director on the Marketing team says content conversions have become her strongest use case for Conversational AI.
We have another customer in the automotive space focused on scaling their customer success efforts with an AI Assistant. By offloading customer outreach to their Conversational AI solution, the team drastically increased engagement rates, saved almost 6,000 man-hours, and saw increased retention directly attributed to their AI Assistant. Their Director of Customer Success says, “Almost immediately we saw engagement and opportunities. Our AI Assistant got dealers to raise their hands and helped increase and improve retention.”
We have a lot more happy customers with exciting success stories!
A few best practices to share for teams exploring Conversational AI systems for the first time?
If you’re exploring Conversational AI for the first time, it helps to examine how your Marketing and Sales teams are managing lead outreach. Are your SDRs able to follow up with incoming leads promptly? Do you consistently deliver high-performing, personalized emails to leads and prospects? Are you persistently following up with leads until they share intent?
Earlier this year, Conversica published a Sales Effectiveness Report which we sometimes call our “4Ps Report.” The 4Ps are promptness, persistence, performance, and personalization. The truth of the matter is that lead follow-up often falls short of best practices—including touching a lead within 5 minutes of inquiry or the roughly 10 outreach attempts it takes to convert. People-power alone isn’t enough to effectively scale outreach.
But when employees and AI work together, amazing things happen. Leads get the attention they need, employees focus on high-value tasks, and more revenue opportunities are identified and accelerated.
It helps to start slow and grow. A lot of our customers ramp up their Conversational AI with a single use case—like following up with event or webinar attendees to see who is interested in talking to Sales. This task is tedious for Sales Development Reps, but there’s no denying the value hidden within these leads.
After seeing success with post-event follow-up, for instance, our customers expand the duties shared with their AI Assistant. Maybe they want to pre-qualify leads and identify hot leads faster. Or maybe they are focused on reviving cold leads to find proverbial diamonds in the rough. We happily assist our customers to determine where there’s likely value and help them get there.
Some last thoughts for sales/marketing leaders in tech?
To truly deliver great customer experiences, you have to know your customers. Today’s customers aren’t buying products, they are buying experiences. They want to trust and enjoy the customers they work with, and it’s up to businesses to provide that.
More of these interactions are happening over digital channels and customer expectations are very high. There’s no way to manually scale high-quality, personalized communications with the resources you have. You have to scale with intelligent automation. Conversational AI can deliver on customer expectations with the personalized attention that customers expect and deserve.
Previously, Conversational AI offered a competitive edge. But as digital-first experiences become the norm, it’s imperative that businesses embrace automation or risk becoming obsolete.
AI is here and here to stay. By augmenting your workforce with Conversational AI and intelligent automation, customers’ expectations are met, employees do their best work, and businesses reap the rewards.
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Conversica is the leading provider of Conversational AI solutions that help enterprise marketing, sales, and customer success teams attract, acquire and grow customers at scale across the customer revenue lifecycle. Conversica AI Assistants serve as digital team members and autonomously engage prospects, customers, or partners in human-like, two-way interactions at scale to drive towards the next best action, whether that’s scheduling a sales meeting, gauging interest to buy additional products or services, or politely but persistently collecting overdue payments.
Sonny Dasgupta is the head of product marketing at Conversica. He is a consummate marketer, a well-known speaker, and a passionate storyteller, with over 15 years of B2B sales and marketing experience. Before joining Conversica, Sonny was the head of product marketing at the SAP Customer Data Cloud. Prior to SAP, Sonny led product marketing at HPE/Micro Focus for their Cybersecurity portfolio. Earlier in his career, he spent almost nine years executing marketing strategies and demand gen programs to build market presence for GRC, IAM and Mobile solutions.
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