Today Inside Sales has become a critical function of many businesses. If one must go with predictions; more than 60% of all sales job in the US would be Inside Sales by 20201. There are many reasons why businesses are investing in Inside Sales function; from 40% cost savings to buyers becoming digital savvy2.
And, there are plenty of Inside Sales success stories in the market today; for example – Qualtrics grew the company to 350 employees and an estimated $50 million in revenue through an inside-sales model3.
However, growing demand generation budget and widening of customer acquisition net to get more and more leads are causing SDRs (Sales Development Representative) in Inside Sales team spending more than 30% of time and effort on following mundane tasks.
In a typical business environment, before inbound leads are passed on to SDRs in Inside Sales team; most leads go through Marketing Qualification process. Typically, each lead is Marketing Qualified based on certain configured rules. For example, in one of the leading travel insurance companies, lead is marked Marketing Qualified if a prospect has downloaded a product brochure providing email id and contact number.
And the key point here is that irrespective whether a lead is Marketing Qualified or not, no one has yet reached out to lead one on one to check readiness to buy. At most, marketing automation can do is to calculate the probability of intent to buy.
Hence, SDRs must reach out to each lead to check their readiness to buy, what they want to buy, when are they planning to buy. This is a time-consuming process which requires instant engagement with each lead and disciplined follow-ups with each lead asking a set of basic questions.
This is also THE STEP in Lead to Cash process where many leads fall through crack:
- Because leads are not instantly engaged; leads go cold. Businesses take anywhere from 24 hours to 15 days to reach out to leads and sometimes they completely miss-out4.
- SDRs give-up after a few initial attempts. Studies show that most of the leads respond after 3 attempts5.
- SDRs reject most of the marketing leads considering they are yet not ready to buy.
Another task, more relevant in B2B, where SDRs potentially reach out to each lead to find some meeting time so that they can understand requirement or show a demo of the product or fix meeting with a field expert.
Here also, SDRs being under number & time pressure, either give-up after few attempts or spend a lot of time in ping-pong of emails to find a suitable time which works for both.
Reporting for the above activities
Ask any SDR and he/she will most likely agree that updating each activity in CRM or Sales Automation for leads which are yet not qualified is 100% overhead for them. Ideally, they would like only to update the system if a lead has shown some positive response. But, at the same time, management needs some tool to measure how many attempts have been made, how leads are responding to outreach etc.
Overall these mundane tasks result in two major problems:
- 20% leads falling through a crack in the whole manual process of reaching out one by one.
- SDRs spending time and effort on 80% of leads which are not bringing any business in short to medium term.
This can be changed now with the use of conversational AI (artificial intelligence) in Lead to Cash process. Conversational AI technology offers capability whereby Sales Assistants are created to support sales & marketing function. This AI enabled Sales Assistant can take care of all mundane tasks like an expert sales conversationalist. Sales Assistant not only engages leads but qualifies them; even supporting advanced multi-stage qualification process.
Going further, each lead can be hand-held by the Sales Assistant until they are ready to buy. And unlike traditional marketing automation nurturing where a lead is lost in marketing database along with thousands of others, receiving same HTML content or offer based on segmentation, conversational AI enables personal one to one dialogue; which ensures even after six months, leads can reach out to businesses in a personal way. There is this Sales Assistant powered by conversational AI which is always available for consultation. The Sales Assistant which never comes under number pressure and works 24/7/365.
For example, one of the manufacturing companies supplying goods across all states and exporting to more than 10 countries, gets ~500 leads per month via online trading portals (Alibaba.com, Export Bureau). Before using conversational AI, this company’s inside sales team used to reach out making the first contact, sharing different product catalogs based on region, and asking a basic set of questions. In this process, close to 20% leads were lost; leave alone numerous hours inside sales team spent in trying to do initial qualification and meeting set-up.
With the use of conversational AI solution from Inversation by SAP, each lead is now instantly & automatically engaged in one on one conversation like an expert sales conversationalist, asking a set of relevant questions, answering any questions lead may have and once leads are qualified it is smoothly handed over to Inside Sales team for further communication and conversion.
This resulted in a direct saving of 60% of the Inside Sales team’s time. Moreover, each Inside Sales rep got an intelligent sales assistant, powered by Inversation, who worked for Inside Sales team 24/7 to instantly engage and qualify a lead, increasing overall efficiency by 10x, so that SDRs can do what they are best at – closing the deals.
Hence, introducing conversational AI in your Lead to Cash process is one of the best ways to increase Inside Sales efficiency at scale while reducing the cost of acquisition.
To learn more on how conversational AI is disrupting the Lead to Cash process, stay tuned.
To know more, how Inversation by SAP can help your business increase Inside Sales efficiency reach out to inversation.io.