In this episode, we have Mark Kilens, VP of Content and Community at Drift, to discuss the importance of conversational sales and it’s role in revenue acceleration.

In this episode we cover:

  • What is conversational marketing and conversational selling and what are the benefits 
  • Best practices when it comes to conversational sales
  • Drift’s Revenue Acceleration model
  • How to speed up the qualification process
  • Common mistakes or things to avoid when it comes to conversational selling
  • Results companies are getting when they implement a tool like Drift on their website

What exactly is conversational marketing?

The simple definition is it creates instant and personalized engagement with your customers and buyers. It does that by accelerating the business revenue because conversational marketing is about removing the friction from the customer experience. 

The key to revenue acceleration is instantaneous.

As a marketer and salesperson, for example, the ways in which you are actually able to connect with people who are interested in buying your product, your service via your website, through the different channels and campaigns and programs you’re using to get them to the website is more important than ever. 

The marketing side is really about starting the conversation. On the conversational sales side, it’s about how do we have the best possible conversations with people no matter if they’re a brand-new customer and they’re going through the buying journey. Maybe there are an open opportunity and they’re coming to your website and they request about pricing, how can that seller engage instantaneously. Or maybe he’s an existing customer that needs some guidance on the next thing they should be buying or using and then that – account manager, that person can engage with them instantly. 

Conversational marketing and conversation sales brings you as close as you can to the buyer, then you can use the data that you have about the buyer already in your CRM or your marketing automation system as part of the experience they’re having with you across all of the digital channels they’re engaging with you with. 

Drift’s Revenue Acceleration Model

Revenue Acceleration Model

Stage 1 – Engaging Website Visitors

Stage one of how you accelerate your revenue is by engaging your website visitors. Because at the end of the day, no matter if you’re B2B or B2C, more and more people are just going to your website to either learn about your business and brand or to buy something. It’s that simple. 

The average website conversion rate is 1% to 3%. When the numbers are low it’s telling you it’s a bad experience for the people that come to the website. Because they can’t find things they’re going to just bounce off.

Stage 2 – Target the Right Buyers

Stage two is about how to target the right buyers. We call it target potential buyers. From the B2B standpoint, this is a little bit more like on the account-based marketing trend, but it’s more than that because what we really are trying to help businesses at this stage do is you most likely have a set of accounts, or a set of logos, maybe even people at those accounts and logos, that you know you want to turn into customers. It’s like the really hyper-targeted account motion.

At this stage of revenue acceleration, we’re taking to accounts who are coming to your website by looking at the information and data. So, the implicit and explicit data you have in your marketing automation system and then you’re looking at the data you have in your CRM and we’re using that valuable data to personalize the web experience for all of those different types of buyers, maybe depending on what stage of the journey they’re in, maybe it’s depending on the vertical, maybe it’s depending on the persona, maybe it’s depending on, I don’t know, but we can use that, coupled with the channel they’re coming from. 

The channel could be paid search. The channel could be display. The channel could be organic. Then, we could take that a step further and we can target them based off of what they’re engaging with. Maybe it’s content. Maybe it’s one of your demo videos. Maybe it’s another asset. If you tie those things together, the who, the channels, or where they’re coming from, and what they are engaging with and what you are using as a target them with, you’re going to create a much more personalized experience which will increase your conversion rate. Really what we measure here is the number of opportunities created and the value of those opportunities. 

We’re bringing all of that data together in a way that’s going to make the buying experience better, the customer experience better, but will also increase your conversion rate and connect those potential buyers with your sales team much faster.

Stage 3 – Accelerating Deal Cycles

In the 3rd stage or revenue acceleration we’re helping C-level folks on the marketing and sales side accelerate deal cycles. So, really it’s about equipping your account executive team with conversational sales and conversational marketing. 

Stage 1 and 2 are both inbound and outbound. You can do that. You can do both of those stages and should do both those stages with the combination of SDR’s, BDR’s, inbound marketing, all the other types of marketing that go along with conversational marketing and sales. But, at this stage, it’s about not only how do we make sure that the account executive, and sales developments, and marketing functions and teams are well executing together. 

Really it’s about how do we use intelligence in stage 1 and 2. Intelligence, what I mean by that is artificial intelligence (AI). How do we use AI and go into stage 1 and 2 now and further optimize the different interactions and touch points of the customer experience and lifecycle using, again, AI and we use a couple of things. We can do a whole another podcast on classified technology, the dialogue manager, but we’re using these tools to say to the visitor, “Hey, thanks for coming back to the website, Tom. Have any questions about pricing? Because you’re on the pricing page and you’ve been there only once.” The AI will be able to respond just like a human because it’s learned from human conversations that it ingests into the model and it can start to get smarter over time. 

There’s so much we can unpack with this stage, but it’s about the AI, it’s about the alignment and execution together, and it’s about how can we make sure that an account executive, at this stage, is extremely equipped to connect with the buyer no matter where they are coming from and what page they’re visiting, so that you don’t miss a chance to take an opportunity and turn it into a customer.

What automation can do on the lead qualifier side is take away the transactional sales development which is like the qualification to get a meeting and move sales development teams so they’re more the middle, to maybe bottom of the sales process from a supporting role for the AE, and make them just more helpful for both the buyer and the AE. It’s almost like post that first meeting, how can we make sure that the buyer’s moving through the sales milestones and they’re buying on our terms. They’re not dictating the sales process, we’re dictating it for them. Obviously done in a very personal and delightful way.

Stage 4 – Deal Insights

Stage 4 is where we get in to deal insights. It’s taking the information that the conversational marketing and sales solutions are collecting as part of our revenue acceleration platform. It’s telling you here are the experiences that you built, say, using chat or email, because we have AI in both those products. Here are the ones that are actually helping you get to your goal which ultimately is revenue or at least opportunity creation, and here are the ones that are helping the customer do the same and here are the ones that are not. 

Half of the gold in automation and AI is the insights. The other half, it’s how fast it can get you, that customer, or that business to the right outcome. It’s both things. At this stage, it’s about making stage one and two even more powerful and truly, at this stage, bringing in your account executive team to be part of this whole thing so that – because of AI, because you’re making the experience better, and because account executives can engage people in real-time across maybe a 5, 10, 20 person buying committee, when any of those people come to the website, that account executive knows that and it has that option of responding.

These next two stages of revenue acceleration are going to be more important than ever. Some of this is from my past experience at HubSpot, some of this is what we see at Drift. Any good salesperson knows, or any good CRO will tell you that they care so much about retention. Net or gross dollar retention, it’s so important to a really good CRO.

This is the rise of customer marketing. Some of the revenue team should now not only be marketing in sales, their revenue team should be marketing sales and customer success. That’s how we think about it. That’s how we define a revenue team. 

Those three teams together work to accelerate revenue because most businesses are either subscription-base, SaaS-based, have some way to expand customers, or if you are thinking to yourself, wait a minute, my product or service, there’s really nothing to add on to it. There’s no upgrade, there’s no cross sell, whatever. I would argue, both businesses then are even – you need to use this more because what they’re at the mercy of, is word of mouth. Use your customers to attract other customers.

If you’re not growing customer value and delivering that value to them, and accelerating the time to their value, the time to – the promise you made to them. Actually, ideally, exceeding their expectation, you could have major problems. 

At stage 4, it’s about how do we get the customer success and support team using conversational marketing and sales. Really that just means when a customer comes to your website, or, say, to your knowledge base, or, say, to your training section, or to your university or academy, or whatever it might be, the experience changes because they have different questions.

Stage 5 – Transforming Customer Engagement

At this stage of the Revenue Acceleration cycle, it’s about truly changing how you engage with customers across the entire spectrum of the customer lifecycle. It’s using the data to inform product strategy. This is completely different. It’s like, “Wait a minute, if I have all of this data about my customers because I have all of this conversational data, relationship-based data, and I know all of the questions they asked during the sales process. I know the questions they asked during the onboarding process. I know the questions they asked during renewal. I know their product usage. I know how much they purchased from us, how they’ve grown. I know the demographics and firmographics about them. 

Now, you’re using AI more to make those experiences better across stage 1 through 4. Across those four major channels of communication and how we just live today and communicate, but it’s also about product strategy, product development. This is where Amazon is amazing. Look at Amazon. They’re using all this data to make products that their consumers want. 

More About Drift and Mark Kilens

Drift is a revenue acceleration platform, to help create and close more revenue faster by using their chat function on websites.

Mark Kilens is the VP of Content and Community at Drift where he leads the content, community and learning and development teams.
He oversees Drift’s editorial and L&D functions, Drift Insider, and HYPERGROWTH events. Prior to joining Drift, he served as VP and founder of HubSpot Academy.

Read Drift’s full article about their Revenue Acceleration model here

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *