Can the risk-averse financial services industry — where security, reliability, and the human touch are prized — embrace digital transformation?
State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) is up for the challenge.
Financial services have traditionally relied on in-person interactions to sell their services for decades (centuries even). But today’s clients want the power to research products, ask questions, and make purchases online.
While the number of B2B companies with traditional go-to-market models have fallen by 52%, the question remains: What is the best way for financial services firms to serve their clients digitally?
SSGA, the asset management arm of State Street Corporation, set out with a mission to accelerate time to revenue. This led them to Drift Conversation Cloud — and a pilot program that proved there’s a place for conversational experiences in the industry.
This is the story of SSGA’s journey with Drift, as told to me by Kate Marx, SSGA’s Head of Digital Training and Transformation Program Management.
Kate originally shared SSGA’s story with us on a webinar. If you want to watch the full recording, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡
The Road to Conversational Marketing and Drift
In early 2020, Kate and her team set out to achieve four objectives aligned with SSGA’s goals:
- Accelerate time to revenue by engaging with the right customers at the right time.
- Further the 360-degree view of the customer — for example, who is visiting the website and what they are looking for.
- Improve sales efficiency by 10% by better owning the client journey.
- Provide more efficient and convenient experiences to differentiate from competitors.
Little did the SSGA team realize their goals would soon become necessities.
“Ironically, the timing when we kicked this off was right in line with the early announcements of potential worldwide lockdowns,” Kate explained.
In the midst of this rapid shift to digital buying, Kate’s team identified live chat as a solution that would offer significant opportunities for growth.
“We understood the opportunities live chat could offer us, not only by providing us with another channel for interacting with sales but further expanding that 360-degree view of the customers coming to our website.”
SSGA was not alone in this. In 2020, 23% more B2B companies chose to employ an online chat solution to meet their digital needs.
To choose a chat solution, the team evaluated several vendors. After trying a demo and meeting with a Conversational Marketing advisor, Kate concluded that Drift was exactly what they were looking for.
Kate has not regretted her choice. “I truly feel like the Drift team is vested in SSGA success,” she said. “I feel like we’re growing with Drift.”
The “Crawl-Walk-Run” Approach
Of course, transformational change doesn’t happen in isolation.
In a heavily regulated industry like financial services, it’s important to get the whole organization on board. As Kate put it, “It’s not just about the technology. It’s about the people and recognizing there will be a lot of unknowns that you have to bring along with you.”
For the SSGA team, this meant taking the “crawl-walk-run” approach to gradually prove how the business could be successful with Drift.
Kate’s team started small. They launched Drift on one site — their UK SPDR website — and set a six month goal: $15 million in trades — that could all be traced back to a Drift conversation.
With that goal in mind, the team consulted their sales team to pinpoint where Drift would be most effective in driving efficiency.
“Before we even launched the product, we talked to the sales support team [and asked] ‘What are you spending your most time on answering in the general inbox? How can we make this entire experience more efficient for you?’”
From there, the team built conversational playbooks to qualify online visitors (weeding out non-professional investors), automatically answer FAQs, and prepare customers for a sales chat. These playbooks ensured customers were primed for productive conversations with sales reps.
Remember that six month goal of $15 million that SSGA set for their Drift pilot program? They blew past it in just three months. Not only that, but the trial run convinced many people in sales that Drift Conversation Cloud was nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it proved that Drift could help them be better at their jobs. In just 18 months, SSGA reached $65 million in allocations.
Kate recalled an instance where Drift’s chatbot helped book a meeting with a CMO from a target company that their sales rep had been trying to get for a while. They did a trade with the CMO two weeks later.
“James said [the meeting] went so smoothly and so brilliantly because he wasn’t the one knocking on this guy’s door. The guy wanted to come and talk to him. He knew the information he wanted to get.…It was an easy experience for the client.”
Drift became a source of invaluable insights for SSGA’s sales team. It provided information about specific buyer’s interests, as well as buyer interactions overall. For example, the team was shocked to learn that C-suite executives used chat to start transactions. These insights showed how SSGA’s sales and marketing strategies could be further refined.
Next Up: The World
Now that Kate and her team have (definitively) proven the value of Conversational Sales and Marketing on a small scale, the team is preparing to expand Drift to their company’s other regions.
“We did what we set out to achieve,” Kate said. “We proved that we can significantly reduce the time to revenue by allowing our sales team to get that immediate opportunity to speak with a prospective client.”
As SSGA proves, the only way financial services organizations will win in this new digital landscape is to get in front of the right clients at the right time, armed with the right data.
Take that advice from Kate herself:
People want to spend the least amount of time achieving what they need or want. “Cut to the chase.” “Let’s get things done.” Chat affords the sales team the hook they need to get in front of the client quickly, and the client benefits by getting the information they had come searching for.”