Let me tell you a story about Bottie Botterson (yup, that’s her real name), our AI-enabled qualification bot – how she came to be, what she’s accomplished so far, what the future looks like for conversational marketing and AI chatbots.
Spoiler alert: Bottie increased sales pipeline by 50%.
Even more impressive, Bottie helped us achieve these stellar results in only 50 days.
Bottie did this by helping us accomplish two game-changing things:
- Adapt the way we sell to align with major shifts in B2B SaaS buyer behavior
- Solve scalability issues around how we fill our sales pipeline
Why We Needed a Qualification Bot
Keap is a leading provider of CRM and marketing automation software designed specifically for small businesses. We’re in a very competitive market that serves a very broad audience made up of many small businesses.
We had two major challenges.
Too many customers. Not enough time.
First, we were running into issues with our live chat availability and scale. The small business owners we serve don’t have the luxury of free time during the 9-to-5 to learn about how Keap can make their businesses stronger. During regular business hours, they’re pretty damn busy running their businesses.
So we tried to adjust to this reality by improving our availability with extended hours and additional bodies. We even experimented with different hours and had SDRs working overnight and early in the morning. But it still wasn’t enough.
Worse, our customer experience was suffering. With the best intentions of responding to more inquiries, SDRs would frequently take two, or even three (or four or five or six) chats at a time. But can you have multiple deep, meaningful conversations at the same time in real life? No. It doesn’t work well on chat either.
There are simply too many distractions – not only the other conversation, but also the general “stuff” of any given day: the email from home reminding you to pick up the dry-cleaning, the kid who needs her flute repaired before the school concert, and then there’s the need for lunch breaks and everything else. SDRs are human – that’s what makes them great, but they have limits, too. It’s impossible to climb through hundreds and hundreds of chats every day in a meaningful way, trying to find the ones that require the most attention.
Bottom line: We just couldn’t keep up. We couldn’t punch through the scale wall doing things the old way. We needed a way to meet customer’s expectations in real-time, 24/7/365, and guide them through a qualification process more quickly so our valuable SDR team could focus on higher-converting, more customer-centric things.
A different kind of buyer. A different set of expectations.
The other challenge we faced was how – especially in the B2B tech SaaS space – buyer behaviors are undergoing a major shift. These days, B2B buyers look, feel, and act more and more like B2C consumers.
Our sales cycles have shortened dramatically. Buyers are pickier, and far more emotional than we’re used to. They expect a more streamlined and personalized buying experience. They don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. They want to feel seen and heard and supported. Salespeople have been replaced by trusted advisors.
This is why we’re building a company-wide empathy culture that focuses on each customer’s unique needs. We want to provide a memorable customer experience in which Keap is a trusted advisor who’s collaborating with the prospect or customer to solve their problem. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and helping them succeed has always been our number one goal. And as their qualification needs changed, so too did our approach.
How We Brought Bottie to Life
As it turns out, conversational marketing was the answer to both our primary challenges. We had flirted with chat, first with cascading playbooks, then with Live Chat. But our needs kept evolving – and Drift’s AI-powered qualification bot was the specific solution that we needed to achieve our goal of creating a different kind of buyer experience that was personalized, “human,” and scalable.
How We Made It
We call our qualification bot Bottie Botterson – not the most original name, but we wanted a way to both personify the qualification bot AND compare her results to those of other SDRs. Bottie is the result of scraping thousands of SDR conversations so we could analyze the questions being asked, and the language being used by our highest-performing SDRs to meet our customer’s needs. Working closely with the Drift AI team, we used all this data to develop a logic matrix that could help us understand how certain questions indicated certain buyer intentions.
Part of the process we developed focused on how we could use Bottie to help us better qualify potential Keap customers using something we call an MVC, a Minimum Viable Customer. This involves getting the answers to a specific series of questions (re. Industry, business, revenue goals, contacts, automation experience, etc.) in a conversational way that helps us build a comprehensive profile – without making the prospect feel like they’ve been grilled.
Something else we kept in mind as we built Bottie was how to weave in the concepts of urgency, scarcity, and intentionality. Urgency and scarcity are powerful emotional motivators that can be brought into play through copy and offers – you’re here for a reason (urgency), we have a need that can address that today only (scarcity). Intentionality is a critical element that helps us understand where someone is in the buyer journey, which then helps us understand how to best engage them.
We brought all these elements together – analysis of a ton of conversations; our MVC framework; and the ideas of urgency, scarcity, and intentionality – to create Bottie.
And then Bottie went to work.
Bottie and the Buyer Experience – Almost Human
Bottie helps us create a better buying experience on many different levels. For starters, she’s there 24/7, which means prospects can engage with us on their timeframe, not ours. But the benefits of Bottie go way beyond simply being accessible.
Bottie engages prospects in a way that gets to the bottom of what they’re looking for. She can talk about offers, pricing, and our competitors, providing helpful information and answering specific questions – all while using our MVC criteria to move the conversation in the right direction for that prospect.
Bottie meets prospects where they are. She provides relevant information in a way that establishes her as a trusted resource, even as an advisor. And she does it in a very personable and engaging way.
But let’s be very clear: Bottie is not better than a human. She’s just not. She was created to be almost as good as a human. And, given how she engages with our prospects, and the depth of her MVC-driven conversations, she is so close that even though prospects know they are talking to a robot, they treat her like a person. For example, if the chat goes dormant for a bit, Bottie has been programmed to ask, “Hey, are you still there?” The number one prospect response to this question is something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m back,” and the conversation continues.
That’s a living, breathing human apologizing to a robot. That’s how real the conversation is.
We couldn’t replicate that with human SDRs, they’ve already got so much on their plate, they can’t jump back into old conversations to see if a prospect is still viable. But Bottie can.
Bottie and Scalability – The Ultimate Multitasker
On the scalability side of things, Bottie has made it so the sky’s the limit. While our SDRs struggled to manage two chats at once, Bottie can have a million chats at once, and she never misses a beat. She is tireless and completely focused on the MVC qualification process, in the most conversational of ways.
It’s common for SDRs to be a little anxious about bringing an AI-powered bot into the mix. It’s understandable that a human might be intimidated at the prospect of going up against a robot. But that’s the thing, it’s not an either/or, and it’s not a competition.
The analogy I use compares Bottie to a shovel. Say that the SDRs or sales team have been asked to dig a hole. They can dig it with their hands, or they can use a shovel to dig a better, deeper hole a lot more quickly. Bottie is the shovel that lets our SDRs dig faster and deeper, and – frankly – with less effort. It’s entirely up to the SDR team how best to use Bottie – they can let her run the course of a conversation, or they can jump in at any time to chat with one of Bottie’s prospects. Bottie is a member of the SDR team.
At Keap, we let Bottie do a lot of the heavy lifting. In our funnel, we have suspects (people who are completely new to Keap) and prospects (people who have a little more product knowledge). Prospects turn into opportunities, which then – if everything goes well – turn into closed/wins. Bottie can go through the entire process of turning a suspect into a chat-qualified lead. She can scrape emails and get a telephone number, and then hand everything over to one of our SDRs.
This way, instead of having SDRs spending their time mining pipelines and going through hours and hours of chats (many of which may go nowhere), we let Bottie handle all that and let our SDRs concentrate on only the best, most highly qualified leads. This means the SDRs have fewer calls to make (just the most viable ones) and can respond more quickly, which shortens the sales cycle.
Down-funnel Business Impact
Bottie has helped us improve so many of our most important metrics:
- Our P2W rate (prospect-to-close) when chat is involved is 15x what it is when chat is not involved.
- Bottie gets our SDRs into prospect conversations much faster. How fast? Previously, our average chat length was north of 16 minutes, and that chat may have gone nowhere. But with Bottie, I’ve seen it done in three-and-a-half minutes. Someone who has done their research lands on our website, they talk to Bottie who cleans them for an SDR handoff and collects a phone number. Minutes later, the SDR is on the phone having a pricing conversation.
- Our very best SDRs converts a suspect to a prospect at 21%, meaning that in 21% of their conversations, the SDR is able to move a person into our sales funnel so we can market to them. Bottie – same ratio, same time, same audience – converts at 27%. Why? Bottie doesn’t get distracted, Bottie doesn’t have another pipeline or multiple phone calls to make. Bottie doesn’t have to go to the bathroom. Bottie is here to answer all of your questions, scrape as much detail as possible, and help you find the right marketing automation platform for your small business.
We have also implemented Bottie in some unique ways that have delivered major ROI. For instance, after someone completes a demo or fills out a form, we send them to a thank you page. In the past, the thank you page basically said, “Thanks for your interest, someone from our sales team will be in touch soon,” which translates to, “We got everything we need, we’re going to get back to you as soon as we can.”
Now, Bottie is installed on all thank you pages (webinars, demos, form fills, downloads) page and says, “Hey, we’ve given you a lot of content, we’ve thrown a lot of stuff at about Keap and small business marketing automation. You probably have questions. Ask me anything. What do you need to know? What can we help you with?”
No CTA, no selling – just an invitation to a conversation. What a different experience for the buyer.
And you know what? Our typical chat engagement rate across our website is about 2.2%. On that thank you page, with Bottie, it’s 15%. Even better, those people convert to prospects at a 53% rate. That means that 53% of the people who engage in a chat with Bottie on the thank you page become a prospect. And these are people we previously lost because they just disappeared after hitting that page.
There’s no way we could have convinced an SDR (in addition to all of their other duties) to watch the thank you pages for chat activity, but that’s okay – Bottie has our backs.
What’s Next? Anything Is Possible.
We’re already thinking about additional ways Bottie can help us transform our buyer experience, streamline the back-end process, and improve our efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, we’re thinking about a bot that can proactively answer the top 100 most-commonly asked customer support questions to help alleviate our support burden.
I kind of knew how great Bottie would be before we’d fully launched her. In fact, now when we do demos, we don’t even tell people they are talking to a bot (even though Bottie is clearly identified as “Keap-Bot”, and her avatar is an old, Japanese wind-up toy robot. Bottie is a hit.
Bottie is still relatively new to us, but she’s already proven her worth. I’m very excited about all the potential of AI-powered bots in a variety of use cases. I love talking with people who are kicking the tires on AI and sharing what this technology can really do.
Want to check out Bottie? She’s live now on Keap.com, and she’s waiting to chat 🤖
Learn more about Qualification Bot here, about the Giant Otter story here, or book a meeting with someone from the Drift sales team here.
Rob Stevenson is a Product Growth Leader at Keap, a worldwide leader in CRM, Sales & Marketing Automation for small businesses, with $100M+ revenues, 30K SMBs, and 200K global users.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Drift customer Keap. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Molly Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org.