Your B2B Sales Process Has A Major Efficiency Problem — Here’s How Real-Time Sales Can Fix It

It’s my second week here at Drift, and I’ve got to be honest:

I’ve never seen sales practiced like this before.

It’s not just faster, it’s also conversational. We don’t make prospects jump through hoops — and we’re not aggressive. We meet prospects where they are, and when they want to buy.

Case in point?

The other day, I overheard a member of our sales team — shout out to Scott Schacter here — talking about how he closed a deal from his couch last night at 9pm.

I repeat: He closed a deal. While chilling at home. After so-called “business hours”.

Uhm… what?

Although it sounds a little unconventional, let me be clear: real-time selling like this is the future.


My dude, Scott, did three things that everyone needs to do to make real-time sales a success in their org. Here’s what they are:

1. Personalize sales outreach.

I’ve worked at companies where the sales team sends emails that tend to look something like this ?.

The problem with emails like that? Not a single person ever responds.

Why? Because no one likes a cold handshake. And guess what? It’s the same thing with cold emails. Everyone’s inboxes are overflowing and people are constantly trying to reach the elusive “inbox zero” goal.

To get a response, people need to be engaged with — they need to know that you spent the time getting to know them and their company.

Here’s how Scott whipped up one of the best cold sales emails I’ve ever seen.

In less than three lines he showed that 1.) he had spent time on the lead’s website, 2.) posed an interesting question, and 3.) introduced the prospect to how their competitors were already seeing results by using Drift. This email went to the company’s SVP of marketing?.

2. Meet the buyer where they are.

Let me say it again, people are busy.

Just think of how many cold emails you receive during the day that you completely ignore (or worse, simply delete). It’s likely a lot — after all, you’re busy doing your job.

To get over this hurdle, sales and marketing teams need to put customers first.

Prime example, my man Scott: Rather than respond to the email, the SVP of Marketing forwarded it to the company’s Director of Website Optimization, John Repa — the decision maker — and asked him to take a look.

Then, something amazing happened…

At 9pm that same day, while sitting on his couch, John came to site. Scott received a notification, the Drift chatbot did its work, and the two immediately hopped on the phone and had a real-time conversation.

My favorite quote to sum this all up from the sales master himself:

“John was intrigued because his boss forwarded him an email. He wasn’t ready to see a demo, but he had some questions and wanted answers while Drift was top of mind. I highly doubt I would have had a productive thirty-minute conversation with John if I had cold-called him while he was working on another project during the workday” – Scott Schacter

3. Have a real-time conversation that doesn’t feel like a hard sell.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a sales call and felt like every answer to every question was pushed aside, and a sales pitch was put in its place: ✋.

Well, guess what? Real-time conversation places the prospects needs first and removes this friction.

Case in point, by hopping on a call in real-time, John (the buyer) was able to get all of his questions answered without hearing a sales pitch and Scott (the seller) was able to not only learn exactly what John and his organization needed, but to also establish himself as a resource.

Here’s how…

“Because I learned so much in our chat conversation I was able to record five Vidyard demos and email them to him. This made it easy for John to learn about Drift and build momentum internally because he could share them with his team.” – Scott Schacter

So why does this approach work better than forms?

It’s straightforward: At the end of the day, sales is simply people buying from people.

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People don’t want to be pushed through funnels and forms, they want real-time answers to real-time problems. Intelligent chat conversations fix this.

Imagine for a second, if John had come to Drift’s site at 9pm that same night and was faced with a form — this story would’ve been very different.

He likely would have done one of two things: either see the form and immediately abandon the page, or fill it out and wait for Scott to call him back at a later point in time.

My point: Neither of these options would allow John to chat with Scott in real-time on that same night when he was already thinking about Drift. If it wasn’t for the Drift chatbot, John might’ve been gone before we even had the chance to chat with him.

Still not sold?

Hear this…nearly 70% of people are sharing information with friends in messaging apps instead of on social media, and as a result, the average amount of time that people spend in messaging apps per day has grown by 72% in just two years!

Even more troubling, Gartner predicts that by 2020 most, if not all, companies will rely on chatbots to enhance their conversations with people. That’s just a couple years away.

The Old School B2B Sales Funnel is Dead — But Real-time Sales Is Here to Help

Ask any B2B marketer how they engage potential leads on their site and they’ll probably tell you one of two things:

  1. They have someone fill out a form in exchange for chatting with a sales rep.
  2. Leads come to the site to view a piece of high-value content, but then have to enter their email address to actually read it.

Then, ask the same marketers whether those methods actually allow them to engage with hot leads fast enough to keep them interested in their product. More than likely, you’ll probably get a shrug of the shoulders.

The truth is: B2B marketers face a huge struggle with response times.

In fact, when we tested the response times of 512 B2B companies in our 2018 Lead Response Report, we found that only 42% of marketers responded to a hot lead within a five day timeframe. Even worse, 58% never responded at all.

In black and white, that means that more than half of B2B companies aren’t following up with leads at all. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a 4.6 billion dollar problem that we B2B marketers face. That feels insane.

To add fuel to the fire, B2B marketers are overwhelmed with options and are paralyzed by the sheer number of choices they have today — making it harder than ever to close deals.

Think about the last time you had to evaluate a piece of B2B marketing software. I bet that wasn’t an easy process.

You likely had to: 1.) sift through data from a large number of providers to create a pool of prospects, 2.) sign up for more sales meetings and demos than you care to remember, and 3.) jump through numerous hoops to get all the right stakeholders in the room at the same time. Sound familiar?

It’s not your imagination — it really is taking longer to close deals. In fact, HBR found that an increasing number of deals are taking longer to close or simply aren’t closing at all. Why? Because customers are so overwhelmed by all of the options out there that it’s leading them to feel more fear than empowerment — and that’s not great for sales.

So, how do we fix this? By using real-time selling and chatbots.

Think about the above story with John and Scott. What worked in these scenarios is the ability to deliver real-time answers to hot prospects.

Using Drift’s chatbot, John was able to visit Drift’s website at his leisure (while he wasn’t thinking of other things at his job), chat with the bot, and then from there, Scott was able to immediately jump in and call John to provide him with the answers he needed to more efficiently push the sales process along — and at the end of the day close the deal.

Put simply: to reach prospects, businesses need to meet them where they are.

Want to make real-time selling work for you? Here’s the key lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Address your lead response time head-on. See how long it takes your company to respond to and engage with the leads on your site, and then take the right measures to solve this problem.
  2. Do things that don’t scale. Personalized email outreach, tagging in product managers, showing customers that their competitors are using the product, recording demos that can be shared across organizations using vidyards, etc.
  3. Move sales reps up further in the funnel. Don’t wait for perfect marketing and sales alignment — get reps in sooner and show them how to leverage conversational sales to engage buyers.
  4. Measure your sales success on conversations. Real-time selling is a competitive advantage and works because buyers want real-time answers.

Make the Shift to Real-Time Sales And Eliminate The Lead Engagement Problem

As B2B marketers continue to spend more and more money on advertising, and the shift towards messaging apps continues to increase, it’s critical for sales teams to meet customers where they’re at. Real-time selling = real-time answers = a more efficient, and human sales process.