What Happens When Virtual Assistants Start Doing Sales Calls?

Google’s AI-powered Duplex (and its B2B reciprocal CallJoy) are amazing. In fact Duplex beats the Turing Test, although the NY Times recently found that Duplex isn’t yet the miracle it seems; Google is using humans in call centers to do some of the outbound restaurant booking.

Nonetheless if you listen to some of the recorded interactions in the Times’ story, (or here) you’ll still be amazed. The question in my mind is: how long before this technology makes its way to telephone sales, either to consumers or B2B sales for SMBs. Deceptive robocalling that pretends to be human is epidemic.

It would seem inevitable that Duplex-style virtual agent sales reps will be coming to an inside sales campaign (or scam) near you, especially in the SMB arena. The questions are:

  • How far out is it?
  • Will it need to be highly verticalized or narrow to “work”?
  • Will there be any legislation to block or preempt it?

Here’s the scenario I envision: SMB SaaS company turns to outside AI sales-calling vendor for lead-gen. Calls are machine generated, AI “sales reps” qualify business owners with a few questions and voice interactions that are vertically trained or otherwise scripted. Business owners that answer “correctly” or indicate receptiveness are warm-transferred to a human reps, called back or otherwise retargeted in email or online.

Because of CAC and scale issues this kind of scenario seems all-but-inevitable to me. What do you think? Do you believe that Duplex-style B2B sales calling will happen? Will it replace some of the traditional inside sales SMB outcalling that happens today?

At Localogy: Engage (June 3-4)’s Dalia Asterbadi will talk about AI’s potential use in the B2B Customer Journey. Where can it be used successfully and what are its current limitations? She takes a full-funnel approach. This is another can’t miss session. See who’s coming. Register here.


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