*Editors Note: Tom Murdock is head of worldwide inside sales at Acquia. The Acquia Platform provides organizations the ability to create, iterate, and scale personalized digital experiences for their customers. If you’ve visited Weather.com, Mint.com, or any of NBC’s myriad of web properties, you’ve used the Acquia Platform. Tom will also be speaking at the upcoming Sales Hacker Conference in NYC on April 30th.
In June of 2013, we made a strategic investment into a purely inside sales prospecting team to help us scale our pipeline creation and fill our sales funnel with both short term qualified opportunities and long term “nurture to qualified” opportunities.
Leading up to this, we noticed in our data that the lack of specialized roles on our sales team (Prospector and Closer) was negatively impacting our ability to scale faster. We consulted with Aaron Ross who ran a workshop with us specifically training on the benefits of this type of specialized team.
We started with a pilot program of 3 BDRs – 2 in the US, 1 in the UK – and will end 2015 with a team of approximately 50, specialized and segmented to cover our inbound leads (what we call our ISR – inside sales rep) and handle strategic outbound prospecting (what we call our BDR – business development rep).
With an investment of that size, we spend hours upon hours as a sales leadership team talking about how to improve our connect rate and have more meaningful conversations with the right people at the right time. All day, every day, we think constantly about how to improve as a team: from messaging, to delivery, to follow up processes, to connect rates and of course, overall pipeline generation and closed business.
We invest in our people in the form of training, but we also make very select investments in sales acceleration software to help us scale the team. These are products that won’t be any surprise to the audience reading this blog: Salesloft, Yesware, DiscoverOrg.
Before leads make it to the sales team, we also leverage Marketo, Demandbase, Lattice Engines, our own software Acquia Lift, and more. However, there is one tool, which is the least expensive, that we constantly think about how to use more strategically: Chat by Olark.
Chat by Olark
Olark’s chat functionality sits on our website in the bottom right corner and integrates seamlessly with our internal company chat system (Adium), thereby not requiring the team to have additional apps on their computer in order to use Chat.
When a prospect is on our site, it enables them to immediately get in touch with one of our reps to ask questions and begin a conversation about Acquia. It also allows us to transfer chats between reps and push conversations into our CRM by simply typing “!lead”.
In the three years since we’ve deployed it, we can directly tie nearly $5MM in bookings as sourced specifically through this medium. In other words, we never knew about these opportunities until they hit us up on Chat. What’s more impressive: this is on an investment of $6,000 per year (even less in our younger days).
Further, these bookings numbers do not include leads or contacts that were sourced by other programs/webinars/white papers that came back to the site to engage a sales person via chat. Those bookings number are dramatically larger.
So how do we use it and improve it? Chat is a living breathing experiment for us. It is not a “set it and forget it” effort. Thanks to Kate Fogarty, who runs digital marketing for us, we experiment, test, and iterate on Chat much like we do with our other sales and marketing avenues. We apply the same thought process to Chat as we do to our email messaging, subject lines, call and email day/time experiments, etc.
For example, what color should the chat box be on the page? Should it pop up after a certain amount of time? Where should the placement be? Should we have the call to action be “Chat with Us!” or “Chat with Sales!”? Should we try to integrate it with our other software tools to better predict good chats vs bad chats? We run all these experiments in an effort to improve our connect rate and pipeline generation via Chat.
So are there any downsides?
Yes. Like everything, there are pros and cons. In this case, the downside is that we do get a fair amount of unqualified chats since it is so easy for a site visitor to get in touch with a human being – billing inquiries, support inquiries, random chats about intergalactic warfare (really), etc.
This is an area we are looking to improve through potential integrations with Acquia Lift and Demandbase. However, unqualified leads are true for any sales and marketing channel, so I’m not discouraged by it.
As a sales leader, you work tirelessly to help your team improve connect rates, remove barriers between prospects and your reps, ramp up pipeline generation, and close business. You likely have potential customers on your site right now.
Can they start a meaningful conversation with your reps without filling out a form or picking up the phone?
If the answer is no, it’s time to look into Chat.