How to Clone Your Best Sales Reps with AI from Drift
Conversational AI powers Drift’s platform. With it, companies can maximize all of their revenue sources—from new business to retention to upsell—rather than just one source. Drift does this by focusing on the entire customer lifecycle, engaging customers from first touch to expansion to advocacy.
We spoke with Jeff Orkin, Ph.D., head of the Drift AI Lab, to learn more about how the company uses AI.
In a single sentence or statement, describe your company.
Drift helps businesses use conversations to remove friction from their buying process with chat, email, video, and AI products.
How does your company use artificial intelligence in its products?
Our Conversational AI technology recognizes quality from noise, learns from each conversation, and automatically qualifies (or disqualifies) your website visitors, so that sales can focus on closing deals.
It also powers our Virtual Selling Assistants (VSA), which act and sound like your best reps, and take the best action for the buyer and your business. This includes nurturing visitors so they are more qualified, deflecting support requests from your sales team, and routing target accounts to the right sales rep.
What are the primary marketing use cases for your AI-powered solutions?
Drift Virtual Selling Assistants act as an automated SDR (sales development representative) that is available 24/7 to qualify leads. Because VSAs are trained on past conversations, they can have personalized conversations with potential website leads. Instead of relying on forms or a generic set of qualification questions, Virtual Selling Assistants respond to and answer your buyer’s questions first – while capturing the qualification information marketers care about along the way. This gives your buyer a better experience and leaves your salespeople with more at-bats with high-value, qualified leads.
What makes your AI-powered solution smarter than traditional approaches and products?
Virtual Selling Assistants act as your very own concierge to engage your buyers and customers and get them the answers they need.
With Virtual Selling Assistants, 100% of a customer’s leads are engaged with in real-time. It performs like the best SDR, it grows as traffic and lead volume grows, it’s deployed as a full-service solution, it’s continually learning and optimizing itself, and it uses AI technology so marketing doesn’t have to spend time creating and optimizing workflows.
Plus, VSA can distinguish between a buyer and customer. Not everyone that comes to your site is a potential buyer. You have job seekers, competitors, non-ICP prospects, and more commonly, your existing customers. And like any of us, when your customers have questions, they want answers now. So they’ll do whatever it takes to get in touch with a human. And often, salespeople are the easiest to reach -- and most responsive. But we don’t want sales involved in support conversations because that means they are not selling. But we still want to deliver the best possible customer experience. And customer experience is a key focus for many marketers today.
Are there any minimum requirements for marketers to get value out of your AI-powered technology? (e.g. data, list size, etc.)
Drift Virtual Selling Assistants can start working on as few as 50 conversations.
Who are your ideal customers in terms of company size and industries?
We typically serve companies in medium and enterprise B2B businesses in the tech space. However, our focus is on helping businesses selling to businesses who want to use digital to transform the customer lifecycle for their customers—which is necessary now more than ever across businesses of all industries and sizes.
What do you see as the limitations of AI as it exists today?
Many of the existing solutions for automating conversations either use decision trees or intent based classification. These approaches lack the flexibility to context switch, and struggle with interactions that go beyond answering one question at a time. By learning a model at both the utterance level, and the conversational sequence level, it is possible to overcome these limitations, and maintain a coherent conversation that can handle context changes, and could continue for several minutes.
What do you see as the future potential of AI in marketing?
There are so many functions of marketing that are conversational, yet are also repetitive—e.g. lead qualification, webinar invitation and scheduling, event answering emails. AI has the potential to take the burden off marketers for these tasks, freeing them to do higher level tasks.
Outside this, AI has the potential to surface actionable insights for marketers to help them understand what buyers and customers are asking, what messaging is resonating, and other transformative business insights.
Any other thoughts on AI in marketing, or advice for marketers who are just starting with AI?
When implementing AI, look for solutions that augment your team, rather than black boxes that promise to automate away the need for humans. It’s important to remember that AI is not a replacement for good engagement, and today brands are winning and losing based on the quality of their brand as defined by the customer experience they deliver.
Personalization will be key to making AI feel more human and important for scaling marketing and sales efforts in the future.
About Paul Roetzer
Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint and The Marketing Agency Blueprint, and creator of The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute and Marketing Score. Full bio.