- Posted by Randy Hendriks
- On April 17, 2018
- 0 Comments
From checking the weather to choosing the right pair of shoes, chatbots have become ubiquitous over the last couple years. In this article, I will investigate their place in the B2B sales process.
In his beginners guide to chatboting, Matt Schlicht defines a chatbot as “a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).”
In short, a chatbot mimics human interaction, helping you quickly arrive at a desired result. Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo’s Alexa are examples of a chatbot using a spoken word format.
Facebook has thousands of chatbot applications, helping you read the news, play games, locate flights or even find Dad jokes. Bots in Slack, called Slackbots, can help teams stay focused, informed, and organized. Our VA Partners team uses the Obie Slackbot to help track information. While in Slack, I simply ask Obie to provide information stored in our Drobox and he provides the files and information requested (and gets smarter the more I interact with him).
Chatbots for Sales
When it comes to B2B sales, many companies are still ramping up their gated content, and increasing the volume of cold emails and nurturing campaigns, hoping that if they’re only getting a one or two percent conversion rate, it means they just need to send more emails for prospects to convert on.
A chatbot offers a more personalized approach and engages prospects the moment they are mostly likely to converse with you: when they are on your site. In his Entrepreneur.com article, Murray Newlands summarizes the benefit of chatbots succinctly: “A chatbot can catch your audience’s attention and learn from the interaction, allowing it to send relevant information regarding your brand, products, and services. Essentially, it’s able to up-sell and cross-sell in a personalized, conversational, and engaging way.”
One of the best examples of B2B chatbot sales engagement is Drift. With a Drift chatbot on your homepage, or anywhere else, your site visitors are engaged and can be invited to answer a specific set of questions. These interactions could be set up to qualify leads, provide content to address specific pain points, or simply be a more personal way to collect contact information.
While most sales managers are quite aware that the faster a sales lead is reached out to, the greater likelihood there is of closing a sale. Even so, Drift did some research and found that most companies were still pathetically slow at addressing sales opportunities. The chatbot on the other hand helps engage sales prospects “in the moment” and can escalate the opportunity to a human sales rep as the lead is qualified. A tool like Drift doesn’t replace your sales force but helps generate actionable leads that you can engage with faster.
Sales Chatbots in the Field
While testing out Drift for VA Partners, I discovered some great features such as filtering opportunities by geographic location. Since VA Partners works mostly with North American and European Companies, I could set the chatbot to only engage with prospects from a specified list of countries. In twenty minutes I was able to develop a “playbook” of questions, answers and activities that the chatbot would lead site visitors through. Our chatbot is able to gather key information about a lead even before I become involved.
While still experimenting, I’m planning to set up different playbooks on different pages of our website. When I see a live engagement the chatbot is having with a site visitor and have the time, I can jump into the conversation for a live chat experience.
In the month or so that we’ve been using Drift I’ve been able to set up a couple qualifying calls as well as collect numerous email addresses. This has been a much better use of my time than the follow-ups on automated drip campaigns set up for those who have downloaded our white papers.
Chatbots can provide an engaging experience and provide you with the information you need to keep the conversation going. Your job is to make sure you take the next step, moving your prospect through the sales process.
If you’d like to discuss how VA Partners can help you with your B2B sales, contact us directly, or test out a conversation with our chatbot on this page or our home page.