There’s no denying how influential account-based sales and marketing have become over the past few years.
Today, more than 70% of companies are doing some form of ABM or account-based selling.
And according to Gartner, ABM is already the gold standard for B2B organizations earning more than 5 million in revenue.
But there’s a catch:
The people in your target accounts no longer research and buy the way they used to.
Making the Business Case to Eliminate Lead Gen Forms
I know, I know. This immediately puts a wrench in your gut. But hear me out.
With the rise of the on-demand economy and real-time messaging, today’s buyers have come to expect a new type of experience.
Today’s buyers want a fast, simple experience that’s tailored to their needs (not the needs of the company). Unfortunately, that’s not the type of experience most visitors get when they land on our websites. Instead, they’re forced to fill out lead capture forms and wait for follow-ups.
An alternative solution:
Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots have made it possible for account-based sales teams to deliver the one-to-one, on-demand buying experience that our target accounts deserve.
The Rise of AI for Sales, by the Numbers
Here’s a look at how AI is currently influencing sales teams:
40% of sales activities can now be automated using AI. (McKinsey/HBR)
By 2020, 54% of companies will be using AI to supplement one or more of their primary sales processes. (Salesforce)
High-performing sales teams are 2x more likely to be using AI than low-performing teams. (Salesforce)
Deployed correctly, AI can automate almost half of administrative sales work and identify the most lucrative deals. (Garner)
And while lots of sales teams are already familiar with using AI behind the scenes (e.g. for things like scoring leads and sales forecasting), more and more teams are starting to discover the power of using AI on the front lines of their businesses.
A Conversational Approach to Account-Based Selling
According to LinkedIn, 81% of tech buyers don’t fill out forms when they encounter gated content — they end up going elsewhere to find that information.
A study by The Manifest backs that up. They found that 81% of people have abandoned at least one web form, usually for one of four reasons.
And here’s the thing: The people who are turning away from lead capture forms and looking for that real-time, conversational experience… a lot of them are decision-makers. They’re exactly the people you’re trying to reach with your account-based selling efforts.
At Drift, we put together a report with our friends at Clearbit that looked at the sales conversations happening across thousands of B2B websites. We found that 41% of the leads starting conversations were executives.
And when we took that same data and broke it down by role, we found that CEOs accounted for 7.4% of all real-time sales conversations, while founders accounted for another 6.5%.
The takeaway: Decision-makers prefer a conversational buying experience.
And thanks to the rise of AI, we can finally provide that type of experience at scale.
Why We Use Bots in 90% of Our Website Interactions
These days, intelligent chatbots can answer product questions, help prospects schedule meetings with their account owners, and even ask qualifying questions (e.g., “How were you thinking about using our product?”).
The point isn’t to replace human-to-human interaction, it’s to bring a human into the conversation at the exact right moment. That way, no one’s time gets wasted.
Of course, in some cases, a chatbot can end up resolving an issue — or scheduling a sales demo — before the conversation ever gets to a human.
I know this because, at Drift, chatbots now participate in approximately 90% of all our website conversations, and our chat bot–only conversations are approaching 50%.
Let’s face it: while humans are better at having conversations, chatbots are better at managing conversations, and making sure the right prospects get routed to the right sales reps.
This becomes especially relevant when you consider that a target account typically consists of 6.8 stakeholders — all of whom might want to drop by your site and start a conversation.
With an intelligent chat bot, you can easily keep track of all those conversations and make sure they all get attributed to the same account.
3 Takeaways for Evolving Your Account-Based Sales Strategy with AI
Consider replacing lead capture forms with intelligent chatbots. Today, form blindness is the new banner blindness. We’re so used to being asked for our email, and we’re so familiar with the sales/marketing process that follows, we’re very strategic about the forms we fill out.
AI doesn’t require the same level of commitment. It’s newer and adds a (fun) human element to the experience. That means you have a much better chance of getting engagement from your visitors.
Best of all, you can qualify your traffic in real time.
Set up personalized welcome messages for target accounts. Personalization isn’t just a gimmick. Our brains perk up at the sight and/or sound of our own names. By including your visitor’s name in your welcome message, you quickly earn their attention.
Take a look at this:
This pops up as soon as you visit Drift’s website — complete with your name or business in the salutation. A form may get ignored, but your name in the chatbox? That gets a second glance.
Include links that trigger chatbot conversations in your outbound emails. AI can be used in all of your messaging, including emails. That means you can continue a conversation across channels — from email to website to real-time conversation.
ABS and AI for the Win
Get people’s attention, and you can start a real conversation. But to do that, you must stand out.
Rather than leaning into traditional marketing tactics, try becoming hyper-personalized in all your communications. By being more human and making it easier for people to engage, you can easily stand out.