top of page
  • Robert Farago

AI Salesbot - Back to the Future?

What's old is new

In Back to the Future, Marty McFly time travels 30 years, from 1985 to 1955. If the movie was set in present day 2023, Marty would land in 1993. Cell phones were “bricks,” personal computers were a new thing, CD’s replaced vinyl and VHS videotape hastened broadcast TV’s demise. Big deal?

Not as rad as Marty’s technological time shift. In 1955, TV had three channels. Detroit’s Big Three automakers owned the U.S. market. Radio and vinyl were the musical medium. Planes had propellers.

In technological terms, the last 30 years weren’t as big a leap for mankind as Marty’s thirty year gap. Yes, we’ve seen an enormous improvement in delivery systems: vastly better cell phones, computers, internet speed, entertainment options and transportation. But it’s same as it ever was, only better.

The next thirty years are going to be a much wilder ride.

Stan Davis and Joe Pine called it back in 1992. Their book The Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition predicted mass-production of customized products. The basic technology needed to achieve this vision – computerized ordering, supply and production – has been around for a while. But there was a missing piece: Artificial Intelligence.

Thanks to automated production, competitive companies can afford to offer a huge range of products and product variations.. And so they do, creating a crude form of mass customization.

At the low end, Tide sells more than a dozen variations of laundry detergent (pacs, powder, liquids, etc.). At the high end, Porsche customers choose from a huge range of individual options to create “their” car, from engine sound to seat belt color.

Hang on. How does a consumer choose from all the available options to create a customized product? In the main, they don’t. In fact, they can’t.

As I explained in How to Sell Anything to Anyone, customers are risk averse. More choice = more risk. Too much choice leads to overchoice. Which leads to analysis paralysis.

At best, confused/overwhelmed consumers buy the good old plain Jane whatever, an options package or… nothing. Hence a two percent average online click-to-conversion rate.

If there was a Tide expert in the laundry detergent aisle, that would solve that problem; just as Porsche sales staff overcome overchoice on the showroom floor. Labor is the bottleneck. Companies can’t afford to hire, train and pay enough product specialists to guide thousands maybe even millions of customers through the customization process.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Internet is the answer. At this point in time, you’d think wrong. Presenting consumers with customization options online is actually worse than doing so in a real world retail environment.

For one thing, the low cost of adding options online has lured marketers into adding options. Lots of options. Way too many options. For another, the online customization process is self-guided. That’s scary AF to a risk-averse consumer, which, again, is all of them.

An AI salesbot is the answer. The AI salesbot will help consumers choose the appropriate level of customization – given their individual needs, taste, timeline and budget. Then close the deal, take payment and instantly and accurately start the production, delivery and consumer hand-holding process.

The AI salesbot takes us back to the future, back to a time when there wasn’t any internet. When there wasn’t any cell phone service. When you walked into a store – any store – and a salesperson was ready to help you buy the product you needed/wanted. Adding a vital human element to the purchasing process.

The internet sucked that human touch right out of the purchasing process. An AI salesbot will put it right back in. “Welcome back to Amazon Mr. Farago. How can I help you today? A motorcycle helmet? Are you a new rider? OK then, let me start by asking you a few questions about your previous helmet…”

Alexa offers the Stone Age version of that. Maybe Amazon is already working on an AI salesbot. In any case, if there’s an AI expert out there who wants to pursue this project, my team is halfway there.

Hit me up on 401 835 5054. Meanwhile, know this: the future is bespoke. How that plays out in thirty years is anyone’s guess. Right now, it’s anyone’s game to win.

0 views0 comments


bottom of page