Conversation Development Rep of the Month: Meet Zappi’s Ally Shafer

Ally Shafer Zappi

Editor’s Note: Each month, we’ll feature a conversation just like this with a CDR to learn more about how they use Drift to book meetings. This is the second article in this series. If you missed our first edition, you can catch up here.

It’s no secret that selling a B2B SaaS product comes with its own set of unique challenges. The salesperson is typically trying to sell a complex software product that usually involves long sales pipelines from when the lead is generated to when the deal is closed. On top of that, the products they’re selling are constantly changing with evolving feature sets, requiring salespeople to ask more and more qualifying questions to their prospects as part of the sales process.

The CDR, or Conversation Development Representative, has a skillset built for this very challenge. Using Drift’s conversational marketing platform, CDRs (and SDRs and BDRs for that matter) are empowered to engage with high-intent leads on their site as soon as possible. The buyer gets to talk to a real human and the seller saves valuable time by having bots do all the busy work, like asking pre-qualification questions, booking meetings for the CDR, and even providing links to helpful resources when the CDR isn’t available.

To learn more about how experienced CDRs use Drift to maximize the number of qualified leads they book meetings with every month, we sat down with Zappi’s Ally Shafer.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Akhil Dakinedi: How did you start using Drift at Zappi?

Ally Shafer: Once we realized that we were starting to drive a healthy amount of traffic to our site, we quickly identified a need to have people from our end ready to answer any questions our visitors might have. These were all people on our site who were engaged and ready to learn more about the product, so we wanted to make sure they had a chance to talk to a real human about it.

I was initially a little nervous about using Drift because I thought I would just get pinged all day with conversations, but it actually doesn’t interfere too much with my daily work. When I do get conversations, they tend to be fairly well-qualified leads anyway because they are engaging with the bot on our site for a reason. I know they’re interested in Zappi, so it’s on me to make the sale (an engaging conversation helps) from there out. Overall, the leads we get through Drift are higher quality than those that come through many of our other sources.

Akhil: What kinds of questions do the people on your site usually ask?

Ally: It really varies. There’s a subset of people who come to the site that are ready to launch their project with us and just want to get somebody on the phone. For these people, I shoot over my Drift profile link so they can book some time with me right away. Most of the time, I’m on the phone with them within the next hour or the next day.

Another subset of visitors are those with  lots of questions about our platform and how it works, so Drift facilitates a great  back-and-forth with this type of buyer. I always try to get their email during the conversation to follow-up with them later.

Akhil: How do you engage with the people on your site?

Ally: Our customers are usually talking to a bot that tries to get some information from them and asks some pre-qualification questions. If I do decide to jump into the conversation, the very first thing I do is chime in and let them know that it’s a real human here. I say “Hey, real human here, how can I help?”, just to let them know they’ve transitioned from talking to a bot to a person. They always appreciate the human aspect and make interesting comments like “Oh phew, I’m glad there’s a real human here!”

I’ll also look at all the context from what they said to the bot and feed it into the conversation, because their answers might change now that’s a human and not a bot they’re chatting with.  It’s a different experience for them to go from just picking multiple choice options when talking to a bot to having a free-flowing conversation with an actual human. So reiterating the questions helps me cater the dialogue and have a much more organic conversation with them.

Akhil: How do these conversations typically go? Does it all happen in Drift?

Ally: It depends on where the client is in the process. A lot of times, it’s a back-and-forth in Drift where I’m just answering their questions, and it’s great to do this all via online chat. I can send them content and useful information, but it’s clear that they’re not ready to engage on the phone yet. Funny enough, people don’t actually want to pick up the phone and call when they’re at this stage of the process. They just want to email and use online chat tools like Drift.

The other type of client is one who is ready to launch their project with us right away, so I try to get this  person on the phone immediately instead of doing a back-and-forth in Drift. No matter how good you are at being a human through  online chat, it’s always easier to explain the nuances of our different processes over the phone, especially if the client is ready to buy right then and there. We still do get people who don’t have time to talk on the phone or aren’t available to jump on a call at that moment, so Drift ends up being a really good way to start that dialogue and get them the information they need.

Akhil: How do you have your bots set up in Drift? Do you work closely with the person that builds them?

Ally: We’ve configured our bots to ask some initial pre-qualification questions from the visitors. For the leads that seem qualified and promising, I jump in and let them know that there’s a real human there, because it allows us to continue the conversation a little more organically.

I sync up weekly with the person on the back end building our bots to make sure that our routing rules work correctly and that everyone on our site has the chance to talk to a real human if they need to. I’m the one chatting with the leads every day, so it’s important for us to be on the same page about how well our playbooks are working.

A good example is a change we recently made in our playbooks where we try and get our customers’ emails as early in the flow as possible. It’s pretty easy for our customers to forget that they’re talking to a bot online, and there’s usually no real motivation for them to sit down and continue the conversation unless they’re ready to meet with someone. If we get their information early in the flow, I can at least reach out and let them know that there’s a real human on the other side of the conversation ready to talk when they are.

Akhil: When you’re not actively engaging in conversations, what’s your workflow like? Do you use any other tools in conjunction with Drift?

Ally:  I make sure to follow-up with all the customers who leave their email in Drift. This is why it’s important for us to get their email early in the flow, as it gives me an immediate list of leads to follow-up with every morning.

We have a bunch of “flows” setup in our automated email system (Groove), so if I notice that I’m talking to a certain type of customer in Drift, I take those users’ emails and put them into the flow that makes the most sense for them. For example, we have a nurture flow and an educational flow in Groove, so if I see that a customer I’m chatting with in Drift is a good fit for one of those flows, I take their email and plug it into Groove. It’s a really good solution for customers who want to learn a little bit more before actually pulling the trigger to purchase.

Akhil: Do your visitors book meetings with you through Drift?

Ally: We always get a ton of meetings booked overnight. We have a button on our website through Drift that schedules a meeting directly with me when anyone clicks on it, which has been a big source of meetings booked. When I log in every morning, I make sure to always follow-up with everyone who booked a meeting with me to confirm the time of the meeting with a calendar event and a Zoom invite.

Before we used to do this, there were some mishaps where the customers didn’t know whether or not the meeting was real because it was all done through a bot, so they didn’t show up for it. Another time, the customer entered their email address incorrectly, so the meeting never happened. I’ve since made a habit of doing my due diligence and following up with these customers to make sure they know that they’re actually scheduling a meeting with a real person. Just the other day, I had someone on the phone go “I’m just so happy it’s a real person!”Little things like this go a long way in humanizing the interactions with our customers.

Akhil: What are some strategies on how to get high-intent leads through Drift?

Ally: I would say make good use of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration. It’s important for me to understand what the prospect’s company and title is because I need to make sure I know exactly who I’m talking to. We have a lot of different types of clients in different roles, so I pay a lot of attention to this information. That little window in the sidebar pulls in exactly the details I need to know, so it really speeds up the qualification process.

I also like to ensure I know what a prospect’s company does and how they answered the pre-qualification questions, because it helps me mentally qualify them and figure out what type of customer they are going to be and what they’re looking for from us. We have a lot of content at Zappi, so when I’m having a conversation with someone, it’s good to be able to hone in on certain products and gray out everything else.

Akhil: What tips do you have on how to get the most out of  Drift?

Ally: Don’t overthink it and be as real as possible. I used to be nervous about Drift in the beginning, but when I started just being myself and saying “Hey, Ally here, how can I help you?”, the conversations started getting a lot better. People will appreciate your realness, especially if they are coming from having a little back and forth with the bot. They’re very open to talking when they’re already in an engaged state of mind.

You know your products and you know how they work, and telling people about it on chat is honestly less scary than being on a call with them. So just remember that and don’t get overwhelmed or nervous about it. The confidence will come across if you just be yourself on Drift.

Know a CDR using Drift on their site to improve the buyer journey? Let us know by tweeting to us @Drift and we might just feature them in this column.

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