How Centage Uses Drift To Shorten The Sales Cycle & Deliver A More Customer-Centric Experience

Traditional demand gen has become a little antiquated. Despite major changes in customer expectations and the availability of new technologies and tools, the marketplace is still inundated with too many generic emails, tedious (and sometimes invasive) forms, and lots of ways for prospects to get lost in the process.

Today’s B2B buyers are no longer willing to suffer through a bad customer experience. They expect a personalized, frictionless experience that is built around their needs and preferences. They want speed, convenience, and ease. This is why we have embraced conversational marketing – because we want to deliver the kind of experience our customers want.

Our implementation of Drift started out pretty small with just a single bot that functioned mostly as an away message after hours. But once we opened it up and started using it to have actual conversations, we really saw the potential. Though we initially only rolled it out to a few members of our BDR team, it didn’t take long for the rest of the team to see how it was working.

It all snowballed from there, and now the entire team is on it and loving both the process and the results. Not only are we able to provide our account execs with much warmer conversations, we’re also routinely shortening the sales cycle by as much as 85 percent.

Complex Products Require Conversation

Planning Maestro, our business budgeting and planning software, empowers business leaders to make timely, data-driven decisions by providing them with actionable financial intelligence about the projected health of the business. Our buyers are CFOs, controllers, and FP&A experts – the strategic advisors driving an organization’s future growth.

As you can imagine,   which is part of the reason that our sales cycle is typically one to two months. It’s critical that we have a seamless, frictionless way to approach customers, and a way to give them easy access to who we are as a company.

The last thing we want is for visitors to our site to be hitting a lot of forms and getting lost behind different walls. We want to break down those barriers.

Conversational marketing gives us a way to do just that by creating a dialog that allows us to get prospects the information they need more quickly and easily. Using Drift gives us a way to take traditional demand generation forms out of the picture and give prospects a direct line of communication with us.

Not only that, but with Drift we’re able to personalize each conversation around exactly what each individual wants and needs. This creates an entirely different (and much better) kind of interaction. Instead of chasing down prospects with a barrage of generic messages, we can quickly get right to the questions that matter most to each buyer.

There’s Magic In Personalized Conversations

We’ve found that the best strategy for us is to use Drift across all the different marketing channels and everywhere on our site. This includes our landing pages for paid search and Capterra, our referral sites, our blog, and our homepage. The beauty of Drift is that it allows you to adjust the conversation and the mode of engagement based on the context. By paying attention not only to where a visitor is on the site, but also where they came from gives us clues about exactly what information they need and which options will help them move forward in a productive conversation.

With Drift, we’re able to create an entirely different kind of customer experience that is much more “human” and much less frustrating than the traditional demand generation tactic of forcing a prospect to jump through a bunch of forms in order to capture their contact information.

It’s amazing the level of customer focus that our team can deliver when they have the ability to respond to a prospect’s specific questions rather than leading with a generic pitch. It changes the whole dynamic of the interaction. With Drift, we have been able to level up our focus on customer success so that our conversations are now as far from a cold call as you can get.

Our BDR team is organized around territories, so rather than taking a round-robin approach, we route conversations based on the prospect’s location. This way, each BDR owns the conversations in their territory, which allows them to really focus on the best ways to engage different audiences around the country and the world. Each BDR becomes an expert on their geographic area.

Because of the conversations our BDRs can now have with prospects, those leads are very warm by the time they get to our account executive team. Our AEs love what’s coming in from the business development team. These are buyers who have done their research. They have come in, raised their hands, and engaged in a personalized conversation. By the time an AE gets involved, the lead is further down the funnel, which means our account executives are having more effective conversations right out of the gate.

The result is that we’re consistently seeing a shorter sales cycle. This was evident pretty much from the beginning. Early on, we tested a pretty open-ended bot without having any high expectations about the outcomes. It was really just an experiment, but within the first week, a website visitor engaged with the bot, which led to a phone call, and our account executive closed the business a week later.

That’s when we knew there was magic behind Drift and the concept of conversational marketing. Creating an opportunity and closing the deal within a week was unheard of prior to that. Now we’re routinely able to capture those opportunities.

Drift is able to take months off our sales cycle because it allows us to skip the part of the process that gets hung up in the prospect filling out a form, going through an email nurturing campaign, and so on. We know that a prospect who comes in through Drift is ready to jump right into the next state of the buyer journey.

This Is Only The Beginning – Conversational Marketing Transforms The Whole Buyer Experience

We’re absolutely delighted with the way Drift has helped us transform our buyer experience across the board, not to mention the fact that it’s helping us close deals more quickly, which has very positive outcomes for our business.

Because of that, we’re continuing to explore new automated playbooks and other tools that give prospects even more options. It can only continue to improve the customer experience when a buyer can choose whether they want to engage in a live chat, book a meeting, or just browse for more information online. Everyone likes to have choices, and buyers are no exception. By building our process around opening things up for them instead of trying to force them along a single, one-size-fits-all path, we’re able to demonstrate our commitment to a customer-centric sales approach.

We’re also excited about some of the integrations that are possible with Drift. For instance, we did one really successful integration with our paid search channels via a site link extension on Google AdWords for an end-of-year promotion campaign. The promotion used a Drift link, and it did an amazing job of providing fast answers to the questions of buyers who had extremely high search intent and were looking to make a year-end purchase. The whole process worked beautifully.

In fact, Drift makes all the hard work we do in other demand channels exponentially more worthwhile because when people finally reach our site, they don’t bounce. Because we give them the opportunity to have a conversation, they stay and engage. They get the information they need to move forward in the sales process, and – ultimately – more of them become customers.

Want to understand the key conversational marketing trends and benchmarks that will help your company become more customer-centric (and, in turn, drive more revenue).? Download the free report here.

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Kory Wagner is using more than a decade of experience in the Software and SaaS industry to build and develop Centage’s world-class marketing, business development, and channel organization. As a long-time customer-first advocate, he spends his days focusing on how to get information to customers and prospects that will truly help them transform their businesses and their careers.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Molly Sloan at msloan@drift.com.

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