For any company, the success of a marketing campaign is measured in the number of leads it produces but as any sales person will tell you, it's not the number of leads but the quality that matters.
Often, highly paid salespeople are left sifting through leads and spending time engaging with information gatherers and tyre kickers when they could be closing deals with business decision-makers who are ready to buy.
Since 2007, Conversica has been bringing the power of automation to this process by automating the engagement process and carrying out all of the manual admin tasks such as brochure requests.
Using the power of Artificial Intelligence and defined processes (called 'use cases'), the product aims to present to sales personnel only qualified, ready-to-buy leads. In actual fact, companies that use AI in their lead conversion process can benefit by up to 59% better closing rates.
But Conversica isn't without its problems and one of the main issues is that it is incredibly expensive, putting it out of reach for all but the largest businesses.
So in this article we're looking at two of the industry's acknowledged Conversica alternatives for lead nurturing; Exceed.ai and Saleswhale to see how they compare and if they are suitable substitutes.
What does Conversica do?
Imagine one of your salespeople, out on the road, speaking with genuine buyers who value human contact to enable them to make the right choice.
Whilst they are busy adding value by meeting with clients, leads are coming in from potential customers but not being dealt with until your person is out of their meeting.
Studies show that leads go bad if they aren't engaged with quickly, so your company could be losing many potential sales just because you don't have an effective response process.
This is where Conversica and our Conversica alternatives come in.
They use AI to make first contact with your lead, understand what they are looking for and respond appropriately by sending out a brochure, setting up an appointment or forwarding the person on to a human contact.
In fact, the number of actions that Conversica can take based on your lead's responses is unlimited and can be finely tuned to match your company's requirements (at a price).
Conversica gives you the opportunity to have different use cases that can be customised to respond appropriately based on the product, source or sales channel.
The best part is that all of the interactions are to all intents and purposes, human to human with your potential customer feeling like that are being properly assisted in their enquiry.
The benefit of this is that your salespeople get a ready supply of warm, qualified leads that increase their effectiveness and efficiency. For the customer, they get a better journey and are more informed about their choices.
Conversica can also be used to work with your existing customer base, engaging with them when there are new services or products and making sure that they are contacted prior to subscription renewal time.
Conversica also integrates with other systems to allow contacts to be updated on your CRM for example.
The Conversica system perhaps suffers from the fact that it was initially developed in the early 2000s meaning that the UI may not be as intuitive as a more modern product and that integration can be a chore.
This also means that the SMS integration and the chatbot functionality is limited to standardised responses meaning that it can't produce answers that fall outside its programmed list.
Priced at a minimum of $2,999 per month which rises to $6,999 with extra charges for new use cases ($1,000 each), implementation and customisation, Conversica is really a product that can only be accessed by large companies with a massive amount of leads.
It is also somewhat difficult to understand what price the end-user will pay, with different 'skills' being costed separately.
Advantages of Conversica
Has been around a lot longer than its competitors
Natural, intuitive and almost human interactions
Can manage huge amounts of leads for very large businesses
Disadvantages of Conversica
Monthly subscription is very expensive and pricing can be confusing
Charges when you want new use cases
Charges to implement and integrate
SMS integration and chatbot functionality limited
UI not totally intuitive
Conversica alternative #1 - Exceed.ai
Developed as a method of converting more leads into qualified meetings, Exceed.ai is a platform with an AI assistant that works with your marketing and sales teams using personalized, contextual and automated follow-ups and responses.
Helping you to scale the top of your sales funnel, the platform assists you to create more productive pipelines and Exceed.ai nurtures and qualifies leads using a 24/7 conversational AI with human-like two-way conversations.
Once the lead is at the right point on the sales journey, the Intelligent virtual assistant automatically books meetings directly onto the rep's calendar using state of the art integrations with CRM and Calendar apps.
A newer entrant to the market, Exceed.ai has certainly made a splash, winning the G2 Spring 2021 awards for Best Estimated ROI, Most Implementable, and Best Meets Requirements.
The interface is clean and easy to understand and mimics the sort of UI that you'd see with products like Hubspot making it easy to learn.
A big win for Exceed.ai is that it includes a chatbot straight out of the box, something that other products fail to do or need additional third-party apps to achieve. Both SMS and Chatbot responses are fully AI-enabled, meaning that the conversation flows naturally just as it would with a human agent.
Exceed.ai uses qualifying questions to understand the lead's position on the buying journey and then responds appropriately using human-like interaction to actively nurture the opportunity.
The system is also able to use firmographics to understand the background to the enquiry, respond in an appropriate manner and pass on the qualified lead to the right business development manager to close.
As a more modern product, integration is built-in and Exceed.ai automatically updates CRMs such as Hubspot with information and contact contexts and also integrates with scheduling apps like Calendly as standard.
The interface is clean and intuitive making it easy for the user to understand and operate. One of the keys to achieving a great ROI is to spend less time training and Exceed.ai certainly delivers here.
Pricing is keen at $1,950 per month at the lowest level and this includes a remarkable 10,000 leads per month and unlimited use cases making it far and away the best value professional level option.
The system is very flexible and one thing that will please many users is that the price you see is the price you pay.
Email is far and away the most likely source of interaction for potential customers and Exceed.ai does exceptionally well here. A big winner with Exceed.ai is the control that the user has. In fact, the user can customise the interaction copy to their heart's content and isn't limited to preset responses which is functionality that Conversica lacks.
With Exceed.ai, users aren't forced to use standard templates and wording, which makes it much better when you want to give your customers a truly personal experience.
Current users also report that with Exceed.ai being a relatively young and customer-focused company, backup is good from their support team.
One great feature of Exceed.ai is the option to mine your old CRM data to revive any dormant leads that may now be further along the sales journey. This could provide a very quick ROI for companies that have several year's worth of CRM data.
With greater customisation comes a bigger need to understand the product and spend time setting it up and certainly Exceed does require an investment of time and effort to get it up and running.
There have also been complaints of the odd bug or outage which although Exceed.ai was quick to remedy is annoying nonetheless.
Advantages of Exceed.ai
Very customisable at no extra cost
Good value and returns a quick ROI
Great integration included as standard
Includes SMS, chatbots and other excellent features
Disadvantages of Exceed.ai
Takes time to set up all the customisations
Reports of bugs
No free subscription level
Conversica alternative #2 - Saleswhale
Another relatively recent entrant to the marketplace, Saleswhale is a clean and modern system that has attracted customers such as Zendesk and Cisco.
Saleswhale features a powerful AI engine and can easily recognise the difference between general enquiries, sales mails and out of office replies.
When the potential customer replies, Saleswhale assesses the communication and either hands it off to a live salesperson for further action and closing or in the case of a negative response, politely closes the thread in line with policies that your company sets.
Being a modern system, Saleswhale is simple to connect to your CRM and will automatically update contact records with details of communications and can update preferences for future engagements. That having been said, the list of native integrations is disappointingly small.
Saleswhale differentiates itself from its competitors by offering a free subscription level for less sophisticated users although it is limited to 200 leads per month and only 1 active campaign.
This is attractive for very small companies and allows even one-man-bands to get onto the AI response ladder but it should be noted that as soon as you need a reasonable level of leads, want to use a chatbot or SMS or you want to have more than one campaign you'll need to be looking at the plus or professional subscriptions at $1,495 and £2,495 respectively.
The customer onboarding and support from Saleswhale is excellent so implementation should be a fairly simple matter although as with Exceed.ai the customisation options are legion and so this does take some time investment.
Advantages of Saleswhale
Very flexible customisation options
Free subscription level for very small companies
Disadvantages of Saleswhale
No SMS integration or AI chatbot
Gets expensive the more leads you process
Summary: The best Conversica alternative for lead nurturing
Conversica works really well for very large companies that can afford the high fees and need a very large scale lead processing method but unfortunately, it isn't for everyone.
The investment needed to get it up and running, and the commercialisation of most of the features means that companies needing flexibility and customisation could find that it gets very expensive, very quickly.
For very small businesses that have only 200 or less leads a month and don't want to run more than one channel, Saleswhale makes sense as it is a very capable system with great customisation although it is important to be aware that if your company grows, so will your AI bill!
For most businesses, Exceed.ai makes the most sense with a wide variety of skills and features and very high lead numbers included in the package.
Exceed is arguably the easiest to learn with a very clean and intuitive interface and certainly gives users the largest number of leads at the lowest price. The system includes more features and for very active users that need a high degree of customisation and many use cases, Exceed.ai wins in this regard.
If you are looking for a method to free up your salesforce and provide them with warm, qualified leads then AI is the way to go and can provide a superb boost to your sales pipeline.
AI improves customer satisfaction and makes sales people's lives easier and more enjoyable so it makes sense to invest in technology to drive your sales.