• Mar. 30, 2017, 1:29 pm

Artificial intelligence comes to alternative finance

The following article is a guest post by Roman Vinfield, president of AI Assist & Assure Funding

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing businesses across all industries. Now it’s alternative finance’s turn. New technology incorporating AI has steadily advanced sales collections and assisted customer service teams by streamlining manual processes that are often lengthy and time consuming. While many believe that AI is on a mission to replace human jobs, the technology can simply enhance a sales team’s process by maximizing lead engagement through natural language processing, automated response capabilities and timeline intelligence.

Roman Vinfield

Roman Vinfield

No matter the industry, any salesperson will tell you that it’s a rigid process to acquire leads, nurture the prospect and ultimately close a sale. This is especially true in alternative lending, which typically involves proactive outreach and consistent follow-up via phone or email to a cold business lead (i.e. small business owner) to close a single funding deal, ranging from anywhere between $10,000-$2 million per loan. Many sales teams have dozens of “openers” and “closers” all to make one loan sale. AI has the power to challenge that longstanding process by engaging leads with an  automated sales assistants and bringing only interested and actionable prospects to the attention of the sales team. In the meantime, the sales team can focus on and satisfying customers rather than sending out hundreds of repetitive emails per week.

Working with both an AI sales assistant and internal corporate sales teams, I’ve seen firsthand how advanced AI systems that use natural language communication can help teams in all the ways listed above. As a leader at Assure Funding, I work with a driven MCA sales team that has seamlessly integrated an AI assistant into its process. Our sales team works with small business owners who are interested in securing funds for their business, mostly when traditional lenders turn them away. When I began working at Assure Funding, I quickly realized we needed to streamline our internal sales process to hit our revenue goals.

On a mission for a solution, we incorporated Conversica, an artificial intelligence-powered business conversations solution, for a little extra help. Unlike many AI platforms, Conversica is not an automated email system, but rather a tool that takes the form of a customized avatar who is trained through absorbing natural language properties to initially contact business leads and follow up with them based on their unique responses. Although the initial communication is handled through the platform, which many assume is a human secretary, the deal closing is still completely dependent on the sales person following up to close the deal.

Alongside increasing lead engagement, AI can improve other business processes, such as up selling and cross selling products, increasing lead-to-funding ratio and improving customer service efficiency and capabilities. The more improvements an organization can make to better communicate with their potential or existing clients, the more effective they will be.

Within just a few months, the use of an AI platform allowed my colleagues and I to restructure our entire funding process. We saw that our loan funding increased by 63 percent, our sales team was happier and more productive, and most importantly, our customer base was growing rapidly. This isn’t unique to the lending industry though. AI transcends and provides efficiency for any business that operates a sales function.

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