What are Intelligent Virtual Assistants?
Intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) are essentially chatbots that use either pre-determined rules or natural language processing and predictive analytics to assist salespeople, customer success, customer service, and marketing departments. They can help reps or agents perform tasks like lead qualification, meetings scheduling, data entry, pipeline management, pre and post-event outreach, etc. These types of platforms are also often called AI sales assistants, AI virtual assistants, or virtual assistant software.
These platforms are designed to help customer-facing departments be more productive by streamlining, automating, and/or optimizing different parts of the sales and marketing funnel. A primary goal of IVA software is to help increase a company’s revenue by increasing its capacity, without needing to hire more employees.
Some products in this category, including Conversica, x.ai, Saleswhale, Amplemarket, and Drift, interface with prospective customers directly, using AI-based chatbots to follow up on inbound leads, answer basic questions, and schedule meetings. These virtual sales assistants send emails or respond to live chat messages according to rules defined by the user's sales organization, similar to the job an inbound SDR/BDR might do. Some of these vendors offer intelligent virtual assistant software for other departments too, like marketing and customer success.
Products like Edward, Cien, Zoho Zia, Tact, and Troops, on the other hand, provide internal assistance to sales reps and managers. They're focused on productivity and optimal performance—things like reminders, automated data entry, pipeline insights, forecasting, etc. Typically they interact with salespeople through email, a chat interface, or push messages.
Intelligent Virtual Assistant Features
Most intelligent assistants will include the following capabilities:
Cross-channel conversation capabilities (e.g. website, email, messenger, etc.)
Automated meetings booking
pre and post-event outreach
Integrations with third-party systems
Intelligent Virtual Assistant Comparison
Before deciding to purchase an intelligent virtual assistant platform, consider the following key factors:
Use case: are you primarily looking for a sales, marketing, or customer support focused IVA software? Many vendors provide intelligent virtual assistant solutions for all of these use cases, though some products specialize in one of these areas. For example, some TrustRadius reviewers note that Drift is a better fit for sales and SDR teams while Intercom is a better fit for customer support.
Rules-based vs. AI-based: are you interested in a rules-based tool where you can predefine specific conversation options? Or are you looking for an AI-powered IVA that uses natural language processing capabilities to interact with customers and website visitors? Rules-based chatbots can be ideal if you’re dealing with a large volume of very repetitive requests. However, more dynamic intelligent virtual assistants and chatbots can better handle complex requests and route customers or prospects to the appropriate channel or rep.
Pricing for intelligent virtual assistant software can vary from product to product. Though most vendors charge on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Products can range from $10 per month per user/seat up to $100 per month per user/seat.
Many vendors don’t openly disclose pricing information on their website but will provide a quote upon request.