How Drift Helped Zenefits Transform Their Customer Engagement and Shorten the Sales Cycle

Influenced in pipeline
Increase in prospect-to-win rate
12 Days
Shortened sales cycle from 6+ months to as short as 12 days

The Challenge: Inability to Keep Up With Demand Results in
Lost Opportunities

Zenefits is on a mission to reinvent how small and mid-sized companies manage their HR and payroll. Their innovative and intuitive software is designed with one purpose in mind – to free companies from the bureaucracy of HR so they can focus on what really matters: growing their businesses and taking care of their people.

The Zenefits message really resonates with their market. As a result, the company was experiencing some pretty massive marketing growth. That growth combined with an increase in organic demand drove a lot of site traffic and overall prospect engagement. While massive traffic is typically a good problem to have, Zenefits’ existing tools for handling that traffic – a traditional form and an inbound line – left the company with some very real challenges.

Inefficiencies in their SDR Channel

SDRs (Sales Development Reps) were spending a lot of their time on manual lead qualification – combing through emails and listening to voicemails. This was time that could be spent much more efficiently if the SDRs could get out from under those laborious tasks and focus on actually building buyer relationships.

A Lack of Buyer Centricity in the Buyer Experience

Zenefits’ legacy lead generation process was not only inefficient for SDRs, it was also a bad fit for the company’s small business audience, many of whom have unique needs. As Rob Stevenson, Zenefits Director of Performance Marketing, explains,

A one-size-fits-all solution like a traditional website that relies on forms doesn’t work when the nature of each customer’s path to purchase is so unique. You need to be immediately responsive with a more dynamic buying conversation that’s based on the individual buyer’s specific pain point, not what you’re trying to sell.”
— Rob Stevenson, Director of Performance Marketing at Zenefits

A Lot of Lost Opportunities

The Zenefits team was doing a solid job of handling lead traffic that came to the website during regular business hours, but a lot of their prospects were busy running their own companies during that time. Forcing prospects to fill out a form and then get on the phone during their busiest time of day did not take the buyer’s real-life needs into consideration. As Rob points out, “We needed a way to respond when that small business owner sits down on the couch at 9 PM after a long day. That’s when these people finally have a minute to think about how to make their business better. That’s when we need to be there with answers to their questions.”

The Solution: A Transformational Platform Delivering Buyer-Centric Conversations and
Time-Saving Automation

Zenefits implemented the Drift Revenue Acceleration platform, combining live chat with automation that directly addressed all of Zenefits’ most pressing challenges.

Optimizing the SDR Channel and Workflow

Drift helped Zenefits improve the efficiency, productivity, and overall performance of the SDR channel.

Simy also points out how Drift Automation lets the SDR team focus on strategic work instead of getting bogged down with the drudgery of manual qualification. “Drift eliminates time spent on the traditionally antagonistic parts of a buyer/sales conversation that force the buyer to take time to explain what they need,” Simy explains. “Now, our SDRs fully understand what the prospect is looking for before they get on the phone or jump on chat. They can totally skip the parts of the interaction that don’t add value.”

Transforming the Way They Engage Buyers

Drift helped Zenefits completely reimagine the way they talk with customers. “With Drift, we’re not selling, we’re putting ourselves in the role of a trusted advisor,” Rob says. “We’re just putting the information in front of the buyer and helping them make the right decision.”

Zenefits’ approach is to use a standardized bot across their entire website. This bot asks an opening question about whether the visitor would like to learn more about the free payroll offer. If the answer is yes – demonstrating intention to buy – the bot immediately routes the visitor to an SDR. If the answer is no, the bot goes into educational-based playbooks that focus on what Zenefits calls POPs, short for People Operations.

If the buyer takes the urgency out of the situation, we don’t try to force it back in. Once the buyer indicates that there’s no immediate need, the bot switches into an educational mode so that we don’t betray our responsibility as a trusted advisor. Drift allows us to stop selling on our website, and instead allows us to help customers buy.”
— Rob Stevenson, Director of Performance Marketing at Zenefits

“One of the great things about Drift is that if you have a successful sales script based on verbal communication, you can create the exact same experience in Drift and make it even more dynamic,” says Simy. “You can add videos or direct links to specific resources. These enhancements are really helpful, and they also just make the experience a lot more interactive.”

“Overall,” Simy adds, “Drift has made the buyer’s experience a lot more conversational, and relatable. It has really humanized it.”

The MQL is Dead.

Conversations are transforming the Marketing Funnel

Giving Buyers 24/7 Access to Answers

“The power of Drift Automation is that it’s like having our very best SDR active on the website all the time, answering virtually any question a prospect could ask,” says Rob. Like other parts of Drift, Automation also pushed Zenefits to shift from a traditional sales-driven approach to a more customer-centric approach, letting the customer take the lead. “We let the customer tell us what’s important to them, and then we respond accordingly.”

The Zenefits team is particularly impressed with the way Drift Automation learns. “The value of the Automation bot is that we don’t have to manually build it out,” explains Rob. “When Simy and I go home at the end of the work day, the bot continues to handle the workflow for us. It’s in constant evolution – getting better and smarter with each passing day and each edge case. It’s offering the ultimate experience to our customers.”

Between the 24/7 access and the ever-growing archive of conversational responses, Drift Automation has created an almost limitless number of new engagement opportunities.

The Results: Happier Buyers, A Shorter Buying Cycle, a 15x Better Prospect-to-Win Rate, and More Efficient SDRs

A Completely Different Customer Experience

Drift gives Zenefits a better way to engage hard-working small business owners. Conversational Marketing powered by Drift Chat and Automation provides a more accessible, intuitive, and responsive experience that is shaped by the buyer’s needs and interests rather than any particular sales agenda. Buyers can now get answers to their questions at any time of day, and even when the Zenefits team is offline, the buyer still has a very “human,” conversation-based experience.

Zenefits’ buyers clearly appreciate the changes. In the first 6 months, Drift:

  1. Drove 19.2K conversations
  2. Captured 4.5K emails
  3. Influenced 1.1K CQLs
  4. Booked 793 meetings

And Drift’s momentum continues to build. Meetings booked, for instance, have been growing at a rate of 68% quarter over quarter.

A More Efficient and Effective SDR Channel

The introduction of Drift Automation freed Zenefits SDRs from the labor of manual lead qualification, allowing them to focus on more profitable strategic work. The solution provides 24/7 buyer engagement via more than 18 Drift playbooks. And the AI is constantly learning and improving responses. Correct response rate jumped to 75% in the first six months; and it’s still learning – getting better with each interaction.

Drift is also instrumental in Zenefits self-service channel. Buyers can select and buy a Zenefits service without ever talking to a human being. Drift makes an offer, brings the buyer to the self-service page, and then the buyer can make their purchase and starts training on Zenefits.

One of the unexpected benefits Zenefits experienced with Drift is the way it creates new opportunities.

A lot of the beauty of Drift is that it doesn’t just solve for current pain points. It brings a lot more to the table. It’s like a brand new lead channel. There was a lot of revenue left on the table. Drift has been able to tackle that for us.”
— Simy Bhagat, Program Manager, Growth Strategy at Zenefits

At the end of the day, in the first 6 months, Drift influenced 1,800 opportunities, $3.6 million in pipeline, and $500K in closed business. Rob sums things up nicely, “I literally cannot imagine life without Drift.”

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