The SLA is Now

Learn how to create a real-time marketing and sales strategy for an always-on world.

The Rise of the Always-On Business

Back in 1927, store owner Jefferson Greene came up with a novel idea. In the heat of Dallas, Texas, Greene ran The Southland Ice Company. The store sold large blocks of ice used to keep food cold in people’s refrigerators. It was open 16 hours a day, seven days a week – unlike many of the local grocery chains nearby. 

Jefferson’s new idea was simple: Sell a few grocery items like milk, bread, and eggs, especially during later hours. The idea took off. Multiple locations later, The Southland Ice Company extended its operating hours from 7 am to 11 pm, and rebranded themselves with a more fitting name: 7-Eleven.

It would take years before 7-Eleven rolled out their 24-hour model. Once they did, the concept of the “always-on business” spread like wildfire. Still, Jefferson had to make some strategic changes to accommodate the long hours. He hired more employees, introduced new work shifts, and grew supply orders to keep up with demand.

Today, with the advent of new technologies, 24/7 businesses are becoming the norm. But, despite modern conveniences, B2B companies (unlike many in B2C) have been slow to adapt to our real-time realities. And nowhere are these pitfalls felt more than in B2B sales and marketing strategies – where old funnels, old go-to-market (GTM) processes, and antiquated SLAs (service-level agreements) still run rampant.

The Buyer is in Control

Today’s buyers have access to more resources than any other generation before them. Much of the buying journey is now complete before a buyer even talks to sales. If your buying process proves too difficult, almost 78% of buyers will move onto a competitor brand. According to Drift’s State of Conversational Marketing report, this includes buying experiences that are too:

  • Salesy: 50% of buyers chased by sales are not a good fit.
  • Irrelevant: 53% of buyers feel frustrated by receiving too many irrelevant ads and emails from B2B companies.
  • Slow: 46% of buyers say they expect a response within 5 seconds or less when using a chatbot.

To give buyers the experience they want, B2B businesses need to retire sales and marketing SLAs and processes that don’t put the customer first and embrace new technologies that deliver quality solutions – with speed.

Sales and Marketing SLAs: Trade Quantity for Quality

Unfortunately, the B2B marketing and sales model we’ve relied on for years was built for quantity, not quality or speed. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) were introduced as part of the “spray and pray” inbound marketing model that sacrificed buyer experiences and sales effectiveness for lead generation.

To solve lead quality issues, marketing is shifting away from focusing on MQLs alone to account-based marketing (ABM). ABM takes a more targeted approach to marketing. But whether it’s an MQL or MQA, a critical problem remains: Both MQL and MQA lead processing rely on the same delayed experience for buyers. But technology is catching up.

Sales and marketing SLA real-time

The Technology Powering Always-On Businesses

Martech has evolved rapidly over the years, giving businesses of all sizes access to automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to scale real-time engagement, automate time-consuming manual tasks and outreach, and so much more.

Conversational Marketing and Conversational Sales use automation and AI to help buyers buy and sellers sell without time delays and other limitations. They remove the need for slow MQL processing and delayed lead routing, and move buyers through the funnel – and towards solutions – faster. These innovations also enable businesses to engage with buyers and customers 24/7/365.

Which leads us to where we are today: 95% of businesses reported that the 2020 pandemic sped up their digital transformation strategy by more than six years. The impact on B2B marketing and sales has been swift, with many finding remote and digital alternatives a welcome change. More than one-third of B2B buyers and sellers prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over in-person interactions.

Here’s what that means for your business:

SLAs are Obsolete & the Time to Change is Now

SLAs are a commitment between a service provider and their client and cover the availability and responsibilities of the two parties. In a “sales and marketing” SLA, marketing is the service provider and sales is the client.

At this point, alarm bells should be going off in your head. Because there’s an inherent problem here:

  • Marketing shouldn’t have to “force” sales to follow up with buyers. Sales should want to follow-up with buyers.
  • Sales shouldn’t view marketing as a service provider they can pin all their problems on. Marketing is their partner.

In a world where businesses and buyers can connect 24/7, sales and marketing SLAs have become obsolete. Buyers are no longer willing to wait days to speak to you. Companies can no longer afford to delay these conversations due to complicated lead-processing. In a digital world where automation and AI can process millions of conversations a second, no one should be waiting in line anymore. Whether they’re a non-ICP website visitor or a buyer from your dream account.

To adapt, B2B businesses need to focus on action. They must embrace new technologies that will scale their digital marketing and sales. And they need to arm these teams with best practices and roadmaps to drive accountability and success in an always-on world. The SLA is now, are you ready?

meeting in real-time

From 5 Minutes to 5 Seconds: New Technologies Bridging the Communication Gap

Technology isn’t changing the way we communicate with one another. Technology is playing catch-up to mimic how we’ve always preferred to communicate: in the moment.

The telephone, the postal service, voicemail, the internet, email, instant messaging – the evolution of communication-based technology is all about getting back to one-on-one conversations, regardless of where in the world you are. Now, that goal is within reach with automation and AI.

A Harvard Business Review study found that if sales and marketing SLAs were longer, and sales waited longer than five minutes to follow up with a person who had completed a webform, their ability to connect with the prospect decreased by a factor of 10. That study also found that only a handful of companies were able to respond within that five-minute window.

This research dates back to 2011. A lot’s changed since then. Buyers’ preferences have changed. Technology has advanced. (2020 happened.) And long wait times won’t cut it anymore. The question now is: How fast is fast enough?

AI & Automation Answer Our Need for Speed

According to Drift’s State of Conversational Marketing report, buyer demand for real-time engagement has grown over just the last year:

46% of respondents reported that they expect a response within 5 seconds or less when using a chatbot; 43% expect the same using online live chat; and 33% when using a phone or video call. In fact, this need for immediacy grew across the board averaging an increase of 25%.”

This same report found that email, phone, and live chat software are the preferred method of communication for B2B buyers. Nearly half of all buyers expect a chatbot or live chat response within five seconds. One-in-three expects the same via phone or video call.

Your marketing and sales teams must leverage these channels to deliver real-time results for buyers. Fortunately, these teams have greater access to artificial intelligence (AI) and sales and marketing automation technologies than years prior. And businesses that use automation and AI successfully are reaping the rewards. Companies that scale AI properly see three times the return on their investments.

Here are a few ways these technologies can transform your B2B communication strategy:

Notifications Are Underrated

The average person gets between 46 to 64 notifications on their smartphone every day. And while these notifications can feel more like a distraction than a blessing, for marketing, sales, and buyers, notifications are key to communicating in real-time.

Notifications may not be the sexy technological breakthrough most people think about in modern marketing and sales. But we can’t talk about real-time communication without talking about notifications. Here’s why notifications are the unsung heroes of always-on marketing and sales teams:

  • They facilitate real-time engagement on owned channels: Notifications help connect sellers with buyers quickly. During working hours, notifications signal that a buyer has reached out across email, video, chat, social, and more.
  • They connect people anywhere, anytime: When someone comments on a LinkedIn post or writes a review on Capterra or G2, notifications enable businesses to engage instantly.
  • They provide insight into the buyer’s journey: With notifications, you get real-time insights into how buyers are engaging on and off your site through first and third-party data.
  • They enable sales to reach out when buyers are most engaged: Being notified that a target account is on a particular page lets sales reach out with valuable talking points while they have their buyer’s attention.
  • They increase sales productivity and focus: Probably the most underappreciated benefit of notifications is their contribution to sales productivity and focus. This isn’t just true for working hours. Notifications from off-hours act like a “to-do” list in the morning and help sales organize their day.

sales and marketing notifications

Notifications are the trigger. The game-changer is how we plan to communicate with the person on the other end.

Leveling Up Website Engagement: Live Chat & Chatbots

Live chat software lets companies engage in real-time with buyers and customers during the 9-to-5 workday. But what about outside of these working hours? Or communicating with people in different time zones? Rule-based chatbot software executes pre-determined actions based on decision-trees set up in the backend. These chatbots can be used to:

Companies that want to create a predictable, tightly-controlled experience for buyers and customers should use rule-based chatbots to guide audiences towards a specific goal.

Your Growing Workforce is Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Of course, the buying journey has become increasingly complex. Scaling rule-based chat to accommodate every customers’ and buyers’ needs is challenging – especially as your business grows. If you’re looking for a smarter bot that can handle complex queries, AI chatbots are ideal. Today’s AI chatbots can mimic the behaviors of your best SDRs. They’re also capable of learning “on-the-job” and applying that knowledge effectively with little human intervention.

The road to get here wasn’t always pretty, in fact, artificial “intelligence” sometimes felt like a misnomer.

sales and marketing slas replaced by real-time sales and marketing strategy

But today’s AI chatbots are far more sophisticated, to the point where they feel more like co-workers than tools. And now AI is used not just with chat, but across nearly every other means of communication.

Email Marketing and Video Meet AI & Automation

In 2019 alone, over 293.5 billion emails were sent and received every day. Despite this fierce competition, email marketing is the highest performing of all marketing channels. With email automation, marketing and sales can deliver personalized nurture programs that navigate buyers through their funnel.

Internally, email automation provides comprehensive reporting and scheduling. This helps businesses connect with buyers and customers regardless of time zones. An AI-powered email bot can manage email conversations with thousands of contacts at a time, and identify the best leads for sales.

AI and automation have also transformed another key marketing and sales medium: Video.”

Asynchronous video, coupled with chat and AI, give buyers the option to watch videos on their own time. If they have questions, want to book a meeting, or chat with the video creator, they can through AI-powered chatbots.

The technologies mentioned here are a big leap forward for scaling real-time engagement in B2B marketing and sales. But, onboarding new technologies like these are a huge change management exercise – and require marketing and sales to rewrite their GTM playbooks and break old habits.

The Always-On Business: Internal & External Transformation Starts Here

A buyer walks up to a salesperson at a tradeshow. They have a straightforward conversation about what their solution does and what the buyer needs to solve. No forms. No qualification questions before being “routed” to the right person. It’s just two people talking through solutions.

When the buyer comes back to the booth after a session, the seller immediately recognizes them and walks through a demo. After the demo, they book some time together to chat again in two weeks.

Today’s buyers expect the same speed and value they get from in-person interactions in their digital experiences. They don’t care about the processes marketing and sales go through on the backend to make that happen. To create a better sales and marketing strategy for an always-on world, your business needs to successfully execute two critical steps:

  • On the front-end, marketing and sales need to create better, more personalized experiences for buyers and customers
  • On the back-end, GTM teams must get rid of sales and marketing SLAs and work as one team and focus less on alignment and more on action and accountability

Balancing Digital Personalization & Automation (AKA: How Not to Sound Like a Robot)

One of the most difficult challenges for marketing and sales teams is balancing the need for personalization with the promises of automation and AI. In other words: how not to sound like a robot when you’re using robots.

Drift’s State of Conversational Marketing report found that buyers would stop engaging with a brand if they didn’t meet both their speed and quality standards:

  • 59% of respondents would stop engaging if a Conversational Marketing solution provided inaccurate information or didn’t answer their question adequately
  • 51% would stop engaging if the response was too slow

Conversational Marketing and Conversational Sales make it possible for companies to provide that trade show experience in a digital world. Both aim to reduce friction in the customer experience while also making the buying process faster and more personalized. Here’s how we define Conversational Marketing and Sales at Drift:

  • Conversational Marketing: Conversational Marketing lets you see where visitors came from and how they have interacted with you in the past so you can align your channel, offer, and messaging accordingly.
  • Conversational Sales: Conversational Sales gives sales a healthy pipeline of qualified meetings and the real-time visibility, insights, and tools sales needs to prioritize target accounts and win more business.

Through this book, we’ll include a list of “dos and don’ts” for automation to help B2B marketing and sales teams strike the right balance between personalization and scalability. While the right solutions can give you a head start, to find success, teams need to go back to the drawing board and remove the internal roadblocks preventing them from helping buyers now.

Creating a Marketing & Sales Go-To-Market Agreement

It’s time to drop sales and marketing SLAs and focus on action. To adapt to an always-on world, more companies are using Conversational Marketing and Sales best practices to frame their marketing and sales GTM processes.

Before using Conversational Marketing and Sales, lead follow-up times at SolarWinds could run anywhere between three hours to a day or longer, according to their Senior Director of Marketing, Kyle Sutton. That all changed when they turned to Conversational Marketing. Kyle shared the exact moment it clicked for his team that real-time engagement was the future:

We had a high-value prospect come to the website, at some crazy hour of the day on Easter. And within 60 seconds of visiting a page of content, they had a meeting booked [with sales]. That whole interaction, from the beginning of the visit to chat popping up to [scheduling] a meeting on the calendar of an SDR, took about 60 seconds. 45 days before that moment, when we didn’t have Conversational Marketing, it would have been three hours to a day before that conversation would happen.

Kyle Sutton, Senior Director of Marketing, SolarWinds

In addition to implementing Drift, Kyle introduced new GTM steps to enable his team at SolarWinds to respond to buyers in real-time. To help you do the same, we’re sharing Drift’s Marketing & Sales GTM Agreement. Unlike a traditional sales and marketing SLA, a GTM agreement uses a combination of common benchmarks and follow-up steps to not just align but action marketing and sales teams to accelerate revenue. This template will help spark new conversations for teams and provide guidance on next steps.

For the remainder of this book, we’ll dive into how marketing and sales can work together to deliver an always-on experience for buyers and customers. Use the template to follow along and identify how each of these teams can help accelerate revenue growth and create accountability.

Always-On Marketing

Becoming an always-on marketer means removing the barriers that stop you and your buyers from taking immediate action. To do this, marketers need a deep understanding of their buyers, who is on their website now, and how to react quickly when they reach out.

Basically, they need to be like Veronica.

Veronica, a Nordstrom employee in the make-up department, would kill to have the kind of insights the digital marketing team at has. So what does she do instead? She gets to know her customers. When a customer approaches, she engages warmly, and begins asking questions:

  • What are you looking to find today?
  • Is this for you or someone you know?
  • What’s the occasion?
  • Do you have any skin sensitivities?
  • What color blush do you currently use and what are you trying to replicate?
  • What do you think of these two?

Today’s marketers can create the same kind of personalized website experience Veronica does for her customers, digitally. No, not with forms. But with a comprehensive real-time engagement strategy and data insights.

Creating a Comprehensive Website Engagement Strategy

You know who your ideal customers are. You’ve studied them. You’ve interviewed them. You’ve done your research ten times over. But knowing is only half the battle. Marketing’s job is to grab these buyers’ attention and engage with them.

If a majority of your digital audience doesn’t mirror your ICP, that’s a problem. An even bigger problem is not being able to engage with ideal buyers when they are on your site. To help you create a better engagement strategy, and identify if your marketing is reaching the right people, we reached out to our digital conversion expert, Tim.

real-time sales and marketing engagement strategy

Tim runs Drift at Drift. To make sure Drift is engaging with our target audience and buyers, Tim uses Drift Audiences. After narrowing down a particular audience, he aims to get about 90% coverage for that segment. In the example below, we see a large portion of our audience isn’t seeing the chat playbooks Tim built. With this information, Tim can identify where he needs to focus his engagement strategy to drive more conversations.

sales and marketing SLA replaced by digital sales and marketing strategy

Drift Audiences helps Tim find potential opportunities he hasn’t yet explored and understand if our marketing isn’t driving the right opportunities. For example, let’s say your ICP is geared towards enterprise accounts. But, Drift Audiences shows you’re attracting primarily mid-size companies to your website. This might prompt your marketing team to adjust their campaign messaging or reevaluate their ICP definition.

Here are three other places Tim recommends embedding engagement on owned channels:

  • High-intent pages: High-intent pages (homepage, pricing page, contact us page, etc.) should be a major focus for connecting your SDRs and sales team with buyers, via live chat and chatbots.
  • Event or transactional pages: Need to register someone for a webinar, event, or eBook? Drop the long forms for chat. With Drift, all you’ll need is an email and integrations with first and third-party data.
  • Content: Buyers want to conduct their own research. What better time to reach out than when they are consuming your content? With Conversational Content, you can embed chat into your eBooks, one-sheeters, decks, and more.

Using Personalization & Multi-Channel Marketing to Create Engagement

You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed when you stumble on an Amazon ad. In the ad, you see items still in your shopping cart from your last visit, as well as items you looked at, but didn’t add to your cart.

Amazon ad example

This is an incredible example of website personalization. Just think, no one in the world has the exact same ad as you. Catered experiences like these are more commonplace in B2C. But there’s no reason B2B companies can’t do the same. In a study from McKinsey, companies that personalized their B2B buyer experience reported:

  • A 5-15% increase in revenue
  • Up to a 50% reduction in acquisition costs

Once you learn more about your buyers through first and third-party data, you can use targeted, personalized communication to increase conversions. Re-engagement and “abandoned cart” campaigns, like the one we just shared, drive buyers back to your website through personalized CTAs that illicit action. In the Amazon example, the CTA was “Complete Your Purchase.” This is similar to an abandoned cart email that compels you to finish a transaction.

While you don’t necessarily need the same level of granularity as Amazon, personalization is more likely to generate action.”

For example, let’s say a buyer lands on your site and starts chatting with one of your chatbots. An SDR notices that the chat seems promising and jumps in. Then, radio silence. The conversation ends, with no real follow-up task or resolution. But in-person conversations don’t just abruptly end. For all you know, the buyer got caught up in other work. You could have the SDR manually follow-up via email or social media – but they have a full list of other tasks to complete.

By coupling chat with AI and email automation, you can send automated replies to follow-up with promising chat conversations via email.

In this case, Tim would use an Abandoned Chat Email Bot to send contextual emails based on someone’s chat conversation, just like your best SDR. All you have to do is set your targeting criteria and write your email templates. You can dynamically insert buyer information stored in your CRM chat profiles, including:

  • Key account information
  • The specific landing page they were on
  • The name of the person they spoke with
  • And more

But Conversational Marketing isn’t just great for multi-channel marketing or campaigns. It’s also ideal for engaging and connecting sales with your target accounts.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet with Account-Based Marketing

While Conversational Marketing calls for personalization across the board, what separates ABM accounts is the level of personalization and targeting you use. ABM campaigns are as granular as it gets. It’s marketing’s job to engage these VIP buyers with highly-personalized campaigns and connect them with sales.

ABM campaigns should be:

  • Highly customized and show that you’ve invested the time and energy to get-to-know your buyers
  • Executed in unison with sales
  • Enable real-time conversations between buyers and sales

Scaling ABM offers and activities with martech – while also maintaining a high level of personalization – is a balancing act. With Conversational Marketing and ABM, you can build personalized experiences for these buyers based on where they are in your funnel, and using intent data or data from your MAP, CRM, or an IP lookup.

Integrations with solutions like Unbounce can also scale completely personalized landing page experiences for these buyers as well. Finally, you can use notifications to alert sales when a buyer from these ABM campaigns lands on your website.

account based marketing notifications

Transitioning from MQL to CQL

Remember our trade show example from earlier? In our scenario, a conference attendee walks up to a rep at a booth. The rep asks a few questions to understand the buyer’s needs. Based on the buyer’s answers, the rep gives recommendations, discusses how their solution could help, and offers to demo.

Now, imagine if – after the buyer is done answering all those questions – the rep instead replied: “Great. I’ll get back to you soon.” Confused and disgruntled, the buyer walks away empty-handed. It sounds silly, but this is exactly what marketing has done for years.

In Drift’s book, The MQL is Dead, we introduced the concept of “conversation-qualified leads,” or CQLs. CQLs are people who’ve expressed intent to buy during a real-time, one-to-one conversation, either with a human or a chatbot. With CQLs, you’re defining how hot a lead is after they’ve reached out and started chatting with you. CQLs tend to close quickly, bringing sales cycles down from months and weeks, to days and hours:

sales and marketing sla

Lead processing is still happening in the background, but it isn’t creating a roadblock to reply to buyers now. Sales and SDRs aren’t going to wait to respond to a conversation prompted by a buyer just because the lead is yet to be assigned. This is a critical update to manual “lead processing” that’s slowed down marketing and sales teams for years.

The Dos & Don’ts of Marketing Automation

Automation has done wonders to help B2B marketers bring their message to market faster and scale personalized outreach. That said, no one likes getting generic emails or greetings that a million other people have received. And, believe us, your buyers can tell the difference.

To end this chapter, we’re sharing a few of our dos and don’ts for marketing automation (this is not an extensive list, so be sure to add your own!):

marketing automation software do and don't

sales and marketing automation software

Always-On Sales

Some of the highest performing sales organizations in the world have embraced automation and AI to thoughtfully scale their activities. In fact, McKinsey found that almost a third of today’s sales activities can be automated and that the benefits of doing so are significant.

Early adopters of sales automation “consistently report increases in customer-facing time, higher customer satisfaction, efficiency improvements of 10 to 15 percent, and sales uplift potential of up to 10 percent.” They have also radically improved their sales ROI, in some cases, by more than 20%.

The shift towards digital sales due to the 2020 pandemic is forcing more sales teams to onboard technologies like automation, chat, and video. Most B2B decision-makers expect this digital shift to become permanent, and 75% find it more effective than pre-COVID sales strategies.

To ensure your sales development reps (SDRs) and account executives (AEs) are prepared for this brave new world, we’re sharing the best practices of today’s high-performance sales teams.

Structuring Your SDR Team to Accelerate Pipeline

SDRs are the bridge between marketing and sales – and buyers and sellers. They improve the ROI of marketing campaigns, provide coverage and outreach for sales, and drive conversations at critical junctures in the buyer’s journey.

To make your SDR team successful, you have to scale them properly. That starts by structuring your team based on your sales organization and buyers’ needs. For example, our SDR team at Drift is split into four smaller teams:

  • Conversation development reps (CDRs)
  • Outbound SDRs for enterprises
  • Outbound SDRs for mid-market
  • Inbound SDRs who book calls with new inbound leads

Each team uses our Conversational Framework to drive outcomes, but these outcomes differ from team to team. For example, the job of a CDR is to help visitors accomplish their goals, whether that’s to get a support question answered, find a piece of content, or sign up for a webinar. If the conversation starts leaning towards a meeting, that CDR can switch to SDR-mode and book a meeting with the buyer.

Structuring your SDR team to meet the needs of sales, your buyers, and your engagement channels will help accelerate your sales cycle and get buyers to solutions faster. From there, companies should use technologies to manage activities and make SDRs’ jobs easier.

real-time sales strategy

Managing Digital Engagement & Conversations 24/7

It isn’t scalable to have SDRs jump into every single conversation on your website. There’s no way they’ll hit a sales and marketing SLA with that approach. And your AEs are too busy closing business to manually monitor if an account is on your site. Here are the steps to turn the unscalable, scalable.

Getting Started with Live Chat & Rule-Based Chatbots

Using a combination of live chat and chatbots will let you scale conversations online. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Implement live chat & enrich it with firmographic and CRM data: Give your SDRs/CDRs the information they need to personalize the chat experience. This means connecting live chat with your CRM and firmographic data (or other relevant data). SDRs can use this information to better serve a potential buyer/customer.
  2. Have chatbots qualify and scale conversations first: Chatbots can engage visitors with clever hooks, navigate people through your site, or help buyers find the answers they need – without needing to talk to sales.
  3. Set up notifications to alert SDRs and sales in real-time: Set up notifications to alert SDRs or sales when a buyer is on your website, when they open an email, when they click on a sales email sequence, or when they watch a sales video.
  4. Use chat routing to skip steps that create roadblocks: If your buyer is ready to talk to sales, or has a question an SDR can answer, chat can easily navigate buyers to the appropriate team member.
  5. Let buyers schedule meetings on their time: If a buyer is ready to chat with a salesperson, a chatbot or SDR should drop a calendar link directly in chat.
  6. Or connect buyers with sales instantly: If buyers are available and willing to chat now, make it easy. With Drift’s Chat to Call feature, buyers can drop their number right in chat and start a phone call. Once the call is done, the activity is instantly logged in Salesforce.

Using AI to Replicate (Not Replace) High-Performing SDRs

Rule-based chat has limitations. Automation and AI help solve for complexity. By analyzing historical conversations, AI can answer complex questions in real-time – just like your SDRs would. The value here, of course, is that AI can run during non-working hours. This is perfect for businesses looking to scale internationally or nationally.

Just ask the folks over at Zenefits. Using Drift Automation, Zenefits manages its website engagement 24/7. Zenefits’ AI bot improved several important bottom-line metrics for the company:

  • Faster to close: Zenefits’ prospect-to-win rate increased by 93%.
  • Shorter sales cycle: Zenefits’ sales cycle went from six months or longer to around 12 days.
  • Increased revenue: Within the first six months of implementing Drift, Zenefits has seen growth across the board. Drift has influenced 1,800 opportunities, $3.6 million in pipeline, and $500K in closed business.
  • Better customer experience: Able to answer questions and complex queries 24/7 has improved Zenefits’ customer experience immensely.

Focusing on What Matters When Prospecting

We’ve all heard the phrase “get your priorities straight!” Setting daily priorities is a big deal in sales – after all, there’s money on the line. So every minute counts towards your sales and marketing SLA. Here are some best practices and solutions for getting inbound and outbound SDRs and AEs to focus on what matters:

  • Sales prospecting for inbound: If you generate a lot of inbound leads, priority should be given to your highest-intent first. From there, inbound SDRs and AEs should use this data to personalize outreach. For example, integrating Outreach and Drift enables sales to build sequences with a series of touchpoints. When a prospect clicks a link to your website, they’ll be greeted with a personalized chat message from an AE or SDR through Drift. If the conversation fizzles out, they can be added back into an email drip (if they so choose).
  • Sales prospecting for outbound: Signs of intent, company news, and more, give outbound SDRs a good jumping-off point to start a conversation with an account. Outbound SDRs and AEs at Drift use Drift Prospector to access this information all in one place. According to one enterprise outbound SDR, this has meant less time researching and more time driving results:
With Drift Prospector I was able to capitalize on two different accounts that weren’t on my radar last month. I sorted by account activity and was able to identify the key players who were on the site. Then I sent them content directly based on their activity. In just one week, both accounts set up meetings.

Adam Abraham, Enterprise SDR, Drift

Both AEs and SDRs should use notifications to help follow-up quickly and engage with buyers during their highest intent.

Getting to Decision-Makers Faster

The average B2B sale involves 6.8 stakeholders. Finding these decision-makers and catering your messaging and outreach to each of them is key to accelerating your sales deals. Today, much of this research can be automated or supplemented with third-party data and integrations (as opposed to endlessly scouring LinkedIn for the right person).

For example, below we see Acme Systems and all their stakeholders within Drift Prospector. This provides an overview of an individual contact’s engagement level, when they last engaged with your website/business/content, and more. With this information centralized in one place, AEs and SDRs can map an account and start identifying the right buying committee. From there, sales can directly reach out to those buyers via email, Outreach sequences, and LinkedIn.

Drift Prospector buying committee

78% of salespeople who use social selling outperform their peers who don’t. Our sales team leverages Drift Prospector to keep track of company updates from target accounts. They then use this information to personalize their outreach.

Delivering a VIP Experience to Close the Deal

People like to buy from people. As an AE, it’s your job to do the unscalable stuff that will help pull a deal over the finish line. The stuff that automation just can’t touch. These interactions are not something technology can replicate, and require you to hire sales reps who truly understand what it takes to build genuine connections with buyers. And, as our sales manager, Nick Christolos, will tell you, sometimes a simple thank you to your champions makes all the difference:

[Your champion] has been working with you for days, weeks, months. They've dedicated time to this project. So, thank them. Send them a quick Drift Video with a whiteboard that just says “Thank you!” with their first name. They're going to want to watch this. And, at the end of the day, they're going to appreciate it. The emails I send with this video always have the highest response rate. Why? Because they know that it was directed to them and we're not trying to push anything. And they’re going to go tell their colleagues at other businesses or their boss.

Nick Christolos, Sales Manager, Drift

The Dos & Don’ts of Sales Automation

Even though contacting buyers directly should never feel automated, getting rid of unnecessary repetitive tasks makes every salesperson’s life easier. Here are our dos and don’ts for automating SDR and sales tasks (again, this is not extensive, so add your own!):

sales automation do and don't

Drift for Always-On Marketing & Sales

The future of marketing and sales is about meeting buyers and customers on their terms.

If you’re ready to become an always-on business, here are your next steps:

  1. Focus on action: Throw out old marketing and sales SLAs and replace them with action plans. Use GTM agreements to notate common goals and metrics for marketing and sales – as well as next steps so these teams can act quickly, independently, and with confidence.
  2. Invest in digital transformation that bridges the communication gap: One-to-one communication and real-time availability are the future. Invest in technologies that connect buyers and customers to your team and solutions instantly.
  3. Automate & continue scaling: Plan for growth. Double down on strategies that will scale manual tasks for marketing and sales and get your solutions and message to buyers faster.
You have the template and framework to manage your always-on business – now take the next step. Learn how to ditch your sales and marketing SLAs and accelerate your message to market with Drift.
Learn how Drift can power your always-on business.

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