Let’s take a trip back in time to 2016 — the year Drift launched its very first chatbot.
Just two years ago, the idea of a bot making life easier for sales reps and marketers was far-fetched at best. At the time, B2B sales and marketing was powered by automation and lead forms. And chat was traditionally used by support teams. So why did sales and marketing need a real-time engagement tool?
But just under the surface, a curious shift was taking place: B2B buyer expectations were changing.
As analysts pointed out, the experiences people were having with B2C brands like Amazon, Airbnb, and others were transcending the consumer realm, and dramatically altering expectations for the B2B buying process.
What’s more, that same year, a global study of more than 6,000 consumers revealed that 85% of people wanted to get real-time messages from brands, and be able to answer them back using that same channel.
Despite that, most businesses didn’t catch up.
But a growing contingent of businesses took note of the shift. And, instead of forcing their B2B buyers to jump through hoops, they embraced the no-form movement.
That’s when things really started to heat up.
In 2017, we launched LeadBot, the first intelligent sales assistant designed to help you qualify leads in real-time. Unlike static forms, LeadBot uses conversations to vet leads in real-time, when someone’s on your website. When LeadBot launched over a year ago, it got nearly 1,000 upvotes on ProductHunt and was responsible for the highest traffic day in Drift history.
Businesses of all kinds were starting to use LeadBot to qualify leads on their websites without forms or humans — and marketers started to see incredible results: an agency in Manchester cut their sales cycle by 33% after switching to Drift. MongoDB drove sales opportunities by a massive 170%, and SalesRabbit booked 40% more meetings for their sales team. The list goes on.
But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to capitalize on early bot learnings and customer feedback to build a bigger, faster, stronger and smarter LeadBot. Which brings us to where we are today.
Drift’s VP of Product Introduces LeadBot 2.0 and Reveals Why It’s Going to Change the Chatbot Game For Good
One year after launching LeadBot, and two years after introducing the first ever real-time chat tool for sales and marketing teams, we’re back at it with LeadBot 2.0. And it’s smarter, faster, and easier to use than any other chatbot on the market today.
With the newest LeadBot, we’ve taken 14 months of learnings and feedback from the over 100,000 businesses using Drift to create a powerful tool for engaging and qualifying the leads that land on your website.
Rather than give you the typical product marketing launch story, though, I decided to sit down with Craig Daniel, Drift’s VP of Product to get an overview of what this means for marketing and sales teams. Daniel talks me through the changes made to LeadBot 2.0 and how they’ll transform the B2B sales process.
Bots That Work The Way You Do
Back in the day, Drift customers could create bots that routed leads to sales reps or booked meetings with them autonomously. But in June 2017, Drift leveled up the entire experience with the launch of Playbooks. The combination of the autonomous bot experience and the ability to define sophisticated targeting and routing rules was a game-changer for customers.
“With Playbooks, we took the LeadBot and paired it up with the ability to set powerful targeting rules to display it to the right audience, plus easily define the actions that the bot needs to take after it qualifies–this was the first time it all came together,” Daniel explains.
But the Product team was looking to level-up this time around. Regular feedback from customers led to one of the biggest innovations in LeadBot 2.0: the Visual Bot Builder.
“One of the things we started seeing was customers were drawing on paper–or some flowchart tool–these visual flowcharts of how the bot works. We saw it over and over and over again. And they were taking that flow and building it into Drift. Obviously, we thought, ‘We need to make this visual, we need to make this easy to understand, and more accessible’,” he explains.
The Visual Bot Builder is a thing of beauty. It mirrors the natural flow of 1:1 conversation, making it easier for sales and marketing teams to create lead qualification flows that reflect their sales process, while at the same time allowing them to scale lead engagement efforts.
LeadBot 2.0: The Visual Bot Builder makes it easy to build lead qualification flows.
Faster Skill Development For Sophisticated Sales Teams
“The best and most sophisticated sales and marketing teams have complex targeting rules—which means that not everyone has the same bot experience. Also critical is what happens after the bot is done chatting with a lead. Does it get routed to a human for a real-time conversation or offer to schedule a meeting for later?” Daniel says.
To ensure performance in complex sales processes, LeadBot 2.0 leverages more than two years of learnings across thousands of lead interactions to master skills like conversation routing, intelligent targeting, team availability, and a ton more.
Rough translation? LeadBot 2.0 is incredibly smart.
Now, sales teams can route conversations with leads to the right groups and people, as well as target site visitors with custom messaging–all from right inside Drift.
LeadBot 2.0 Skills leverage over two years of learning across thousands of interactions.
Playbooks That Work to Drive Sales Outcomes
Another advantage to having been in the chatbot game for two years? Learning which Playbooks work best for driving specific sales outcomes. This lends an extremely strategic element to your conversational sales and marketing efforts, without adding any extra work.
Now, when you get started with LeadBot 2.0, you’ll get a clear set of Playbooks designed to drive meetings and qualify the leads that land on your website.
“It’s great building a beautiful conversational flow, but what outcomes does it drive? With LeadBot 2.0, we overhauled the entire experience of Playbooks to focus on key sales and marketing objectives, so there’s no ambiguity about what success looks like,” explains Daniel.
LeadBot 2.0: A brand new Playbooks experience.
Behind Every Powerful LeadBot Is A Bot That Paved the Way
For decades, the best marketers have kept swipe files with inspiration for the most compelling copy and persuasive calls to action.
But it’s 2018, and we’re not just writing ad copy anymore–we’re using bots to power conversations with customers that scale real-time engagement efforts.
So, with the launch of LeadBots 2.0, we thought:
Why not build an entire website dedicated to the best examples of chatbots in action?
Taking things a step further, we’ve built out an inspiration website we’re calling reallygoodchatbots.com to give you what you need to build the best bots ever. Think of it as your own swipe file for conversational sales and marketing.
There’s A Growing B2B Lead Engagement Problem and The Stakes Are Higher Than Ever
B2B ad spend is predicted to hit $4.6 billion in 2018 alone, driving millions of leads to websites, campaign landing pages, and blogs. But we risk little to no ROI on our investment in ads if we can’t engage prospects in real-time and solve the lead engagement problem.