Like the phrase “buying journey” implies, sales deals are kind of like road trips, with buyers and sellers working together to reach their final destination — a closed deal. And while this is still true in the digital era, the way that buyers and sellers interact has shifted.
In the past, sellers were the ones responsible for driving deals forward. But now, as most buyers prefer remote or self-service interactions, they’re the ones in the driver’s seat. They decide what channels to use, which resources to download, and when they’re ready to jump into a conversation with a sales rep.
Our job as sellers, then, is to hold the map — to handle the navigation and make sure buyers can get to where they want to go, quickly and easily. Because the more frictionless the buying experience is, the faster you will be able to get to a closed deal.
So, how do you deliver that frictionless experience?
By leveraging conversational solutions and artificial intelligence (AI), you can offer your buyers a shortcut to the information and resources they’re looking for, increase your sales productivity, and drive more pipeline and revenue in the process.
I recently joined Bill Campbell, Senior Director of Sales Development at Elastic, and Matt Tippets, SVP of Product at Drift, to discuss how to use conversations and AI for digital selling. Here are four ways you can enhance your digital strategy so you and your buyers get to your final destination, faster 👇
To watch the full recording of the panel discussion, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for the insights 💡
1. Deliver an Always-On Experience
Although the road to a closed deal has gotten longer and more complex through the inclusion of multiple stakeholders and more choices, buyers aren’t spending any more time meeting with sellers. Instead, they’re researching your brand on their own time, which is mostly off hours.
In fact, TrustRadius found that virtually 100% of buyers want to self-serve part (if not all) of the buying journey. This means that you need to ensure your buyers can get what they need, the moment they need it, and all on their own. As Matt explains:
“Buyers want to get onto the freeway and get to the exit that they’re going to. We prefer they take the side streets. … If your organization is not providing a freeway, then it’s going to be falling behind.”
So, how do get your buyers on the freeway? One of the best ways to do this is by implementing chatbots on your website. Since chatbots are always-on, site visitors can instantly get access to the right help docs, download the resources of their choice, or book a meeting, whether or not your reps are online. Even better, AI chatbots can have more humanlike interactions by responding to open text questions and automatically surfacing the next best step for your site visitors.
By providing a channel for site visitors to interact with your brand 24/7/365, you ensure that your buyers don’t have to wait for a human to get back to them, which could take hours or even days. Plus, you save your reps from having to spend their work hours responding to simple questions, so they can be more productive and focus on closing deals.
2. Drive More Personalized Interactions
No one wants to go on a trip with someone they’ve never met before. Yet, often, the first thing buyers have to do when they hop onto a sales call is answer a checklist of qualifying questions or repeat basic information.
With the wealth of information that’s available today, there’s no need for this. Buyers are coming into sales conversations already knowing who you are and what you do, and they expect you to know them, too. It then makes sense that they anticipate that you’re able to speak to their specific needs from the get-go. As Bill puts it:
“Every conversation has to be meaningful, or [buyers] are just going to see us as wasting their time. And we would be wasting our time. So, what a meaningful conversation really means to me is that sharing of critical information to move a buyer through the journey.”
Whether it’s your first call or twentieth, the goal of any sales conversation should be to validate your buyer’s goals and challenges, and then drive home the business value that your solution offers them.
This is where AI can help. AI can make sense of your buyers’ data — firmographics, browsing behavior, chatbot conversations, etc. — to zero in on their intent so that your reps have a more solid starting point.
Tools like Drift Prospector surface AI-powered insights that allow you to view all of the buying signals associated with a buyer in one place and tailor the experience based on what they’ve engaged with. Additionally, our AI-powered engagement score helps sales reps prioritize their outreach by surfacing the accounts that are most likely to convert using data from your entire tech stack so that your reps can focus on the accounts showing strong intent to buy.
Since AI can analyze data faster than any human can, with tools like Prospector, you can make the process of understanding your buyers more efficient, so you’re always having meaningful conversations. Plus, as AI stores every interaction and automatically updates the information you have, you will never have to worry about any important details slipping through the cracks.
3. Bridge Your Inbound and Outbound Motions
Historically, sales teams have treated inbound and outbound selling motions as two separate strategies. And that view has come at the cost of siloed teams, disjointed efforts, and missed opportunities.
Because rarely will you find buyers that jump to book a meeting after one cold email. Instead, if you’ve successfully piqued their interest, they’ll go to your website and start digging into your brand themselves. This means that your outbound and inbound efforts are actually connected — so, by treating them as a single strategy, you can build a shorter route to revenue.
For Bill’s team at Elastic, Drift has been integral to doing this. With Drift, Elastic has been able to align their marketing and sales teams around the goal of driving greater inbound engagement — whether that’s engaging visitors with AI chatbots, crafting more strategic playbooks, or planning events. In turn, those efforts have helped the sales team warm up their outreach.
“We’re creating a buyer’s journey that tees up a conversation where we’re landing at a better starting point for our SDRs. So, they’re not starting with something very cold. We can move faster to qualify, which means moving the prospect down the funnel and getting us quicker into an opportunity and eventually closed revenue.”
Conversational Sales bridges the gap between inbound and outbound selling by allowing you to engage target accounts in a real-time conversation when they are live on your website. In fact, we’ve found that you’re 6x more likely to book a meeting if you reach out to an account within an hour of them landing on your website.
Moreover, with each of these conversations, you learn more about how the buyer is interacting with your brand. You can then use these insights to inform your outbound strategy so that you know you’re reaching out to the right accounts, at the right time, with the right message. In this way, you can bring your inbound and outbound motions under one cohesive strategy to create a flywheel that maximizes conversations and opportunities.
4. Enhance the Human-to-Human Connection
Before digital selling became the norm, sales reps often had to meet buyers in person to guide them through the buying journey, gain trust, and eventually convert them into customers.
But today, we’ve shifted away from building relationships solely through in-person interactions. Instead, as the digital landscape evolves, tools like AI are taking on a bigger role in managing relationships and nurturing trust — with little to no human intervention.
And that’s a good thing! Think of AI as the GPS in our road trip analogy. With tools like AI, reps can save the time it takes to find the right information for the buyer and use it instead to focus on building that human-to-human connection more quickly.
For example, generative AI tools can help you be more efficient while having conversations with your buyers. Drift’s AI suggested replies narrow down the time it takes for your reps to reply in a live chat conversation by automatically suggesting a reply based on your business and the context of the conversation. The rep can then customize the reply or send it as is, saving them from having to scramble for the right response.
We’ve found that reps respond 77% faster when using AI suggested replies in live chat. And this is only the beginning. By implementing well-trained AI tools with the proper guardrails to ensure accuracy and brand alignment, you can empower your reps to build trust and provide a positive customer experience more easily — ultimately getting you both across the finish line faster.
With digital experiences and AI tools becoming more sophisticated by the day, B2B companies have reached a massive inflection point.
Generative AI alone is set to add as much as $4.4 trillion in economic value through productivity gains. And with the potential impact that such technology can have on your business, it’s crucial that you seize the moment and embrace a way of selling that is fast, digital, and conversational. Because, by helping your buyers get on the freeway and zoom to their final destination, you can ensure your business will continue to thrive in the future.