How Using Intelligent Virtual Assistants with Sales Engagement Tools Increases Connect Rates on Marketing Leads by 2.5x

The idea of Sales and Marketing working together to develop a cohesive account-based marketing plan is nothing new. These two revenue-generating teams work together to identify a list of accounts, define the outreach plan, design campaigns, and measure the results. Where many teams run into trouble is the actual execution of the plan. Yes, it all sounds great on paper, but putting it to practice is sometimes a whole other mountain to climb.

So often, Sales is expected to put a set number of touches (sometimes dozens) on an account in a set amount of time. And while Marketing does their best to help Sales prioritize, often there’s so much information available to us that it becomes “noise” to Sales. When this happens Sales defaults to playing the volume game.

The results? Hot accounts get missed, opportunities for highly personalized conversations get overlooked, and ultimately pipeline production suffers. Not to mention, focusing on volume is overwhelming for Sales. When in many cases a single rep could be responsible for hundreds of accounts at any given time – how are you supposed to put dozens of thoughtful touches on hundreds of accounts in short order?

Using Sales Engagement Tools & Intelligent Virtual Assistants in Tandem

Let’s take a look at how Sales Engagement tools plus Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) equal increased productivity and a higher return on investment, including:

  • A 153% lift in connect and reply rate on SDR follow-up after a lead has been worked by an IVA.
  • A 10% increase in response rate in target account prospecting campaigns when stubborn leads are handed off to an IVA to work after the SDR has attempted.
  • 2.5x the personalized, persistent, and polite outreach without an increase in headcount.

How Intelligent Virtual Assistants Differ from Sales Engagement Tools

Enter the beloved Sales Engagement tool (i.e. Outreach, Salesloft, Groove). These powerful tools enable Salespeople to truly own the communication in their territories and conduct outreach at volume.

And when we say powerful, we mean it. Sales Engagement tools allow reps to do their jobs at scale, including:

  • Automating Outreach: Sales can deliver relevant content automatically based on various triggers including campaign engagement, content consumption, persona, and the like; thus, allowing them to deliver more relevant messaging at scale in real-time.
  • Prioritizing Prospects and Accounts: Sales Engagement tools typically integrate with sales intelligence providers and account-based marketing (ABM) platforms to give Sales full visibility into which accounts and prospects need their attention first, without forcing them to work in multiple platforms.
  • Aligning with Marketing: Sales Engagement tools often integrate with Marketing Engagement platforms to give Marketing teams visibility into lead follow-up and trigger further activity based on engagement. Managers can easily track productivity metrics and messaging efficacy.

If Sales Engagement tools can do all that, where do Intelligent Virtual Assistants come into play? The fact of the matter is there are some pretty key differences between what an Intelligent Virtual Assistant can do and how Sales uses Sales Engagement tools:

  • Intelligent Virtual Assistants Are More Autonomous: IVAs are built on an Intelligent Engagement Platform, powering millions of routine, yet highly valuable conversations consistently and tirelessly. By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), IVAs initiate contact, empathize intelligently to interpret replies, and respond with a tailored response. While Sales Engagement tools can run leads through a cadence, they can’t respond for the rep – that requires human intervention.
  • Playbooks and Writing Email Cadences Be Gone: While Sales Engagement tools require Sales or Marketing to input the content for every email in every cadence or flow, IVAs take the manual labor out of Sales nurture. IVAs can take a few key criteria inputs upfront and run with them for an entire personalized, persistent, and polite communication flow, responding autonomously all the way through scheduling a meeting between a lead and a Salesperson.
  • IVAs Provide Air Cover for Your SDR Team: IVAs take on playing the volume game, putting the right amount of touches on your leads, 100% of the time, so your Sales team can focus on what they do best – developing and closing opportunities. By sharing the prospecting burden with an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, Sales has an opportunity to focus on the lowest hanging fruit, rather than throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. What’s more, leads that have been ‘warmed up’ by the IVA are more likely to engage with your SDRs down the road.

Executing an ABM Strategy with Sales Engagement and Intelligent Virtual Assistants

While there are key differences between the two technologies, there are some pretty huge opportunities for these solutions to work together to bring extreme productivity and results to Sales and Marketing. While we could write an entire blog series on the use cases, let’s focus on one in particular here: account-based marketing.

The ABM use case is one where the tag-team approach can provide big benefits to your Sales and Marketing teams via productivity and coverage. Here are a couple of ways to approach it:

1. The Tiered Account Strategy
Typically Sales and Marketing have worked together to prioritize the hottest, most relevant accounts as a first priority. We’ll call those Tier 1 Accounts. This list is usually a pretty manageable number for Sales to handle; running roughly between 25 and 50 accounts. These accounts should get Sales’ utmost love and affection in the form of highly personalized outreach fueled by research, and should take up a good amount of a Sales rep’s time and energy. If Sales is so focused on Tier 1s, where does that leave the rest of the accounts on your list?

Intelligent Virtual Assistants come in clutch for your Tier 2s and 3s. To ensure relevancy, leverage the IVA to reach out to accounts that are showing intent via Marketing engagement and intelligence. These accounts might be a little shy in raising their hands but are likely still interested. The Sales team selects a couple of contacts per account to give to the IVA for outbound prospecting.

2. The “You Take the Inbounds” Strategy
Another way to go about this is to have the Intelligent Virtual Assistant focus on processing any inbound interest tied to your target accounts, while Sales conducts the outbound prospecting activities. You could do this with simple automations between your Marketing Automation Platform, CRM, and Sales Engagement tool.
For example, Sales continues to prioritize outbounding into their Tier 1 accounts, but any inbound interest in Tier 2 and 3 accounts is processed by the IVA. Rather than wait for scoring to warm these leads up, fast track them to an ABM-specific IVA campaign for follow-up. In this scenario, you could have a few different IVA campaigns based on common interests (i.e., industry-specific, persona-specific, or intent specific). These prospects can be routed to the IVA for follow-up just as easily as you’d route a lead to Sales.

Boosting Sales Productivity and Benefiting Your Business

Any way you look at it, it’s clear that more personalized outreach equals more engagement, more pipeline, and more revenue.

While hiring more full-time employees to manage personalized outreach seems like a solution in itself, the truth of the matter is that these business professionals would still spend a large portion of their time on repetitive, routine tasks. It’s much wiser to combine technologies that augment your workforce rather than simply add more people to your workforce. And in many cases, organizations simply don’t have the money to bring on new people.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants, in contrast, are cost-effective virtual team members who help drive teams toward shared goals. Conversica customers leveraging IVAs in partnership with their existing Sales team and processes experience impressive results:

Oracle leveraged their Intelligent Virtual Assistant, Sales team, and intent data from Bombora, to conduct outreach on prioritized accounts. The results were encouraging as Oracle experienced a 40-percent conversion rate.

Epson America restructured its nurture process to include IVAs and experienced a 240-percent increased response rate.

What’s more, they can increase the morale in their Sales organization. When Sales reps aren’t bogged down by repetitive, mundane processes, and are instead having good, productive conversations, most are a lot happier which in and of itself boost productivity.

By tasking an Intelligent Virtual Assistant with the heavy lifting it takes to qualify interest and set up meetings, Sales can do what they do best – build relationships and close business.

By combining the right technologies on behalf of your revenue-generating teams, you can improve your ROI, drive operational efficiency and make for a happier workforce.

For a deeper dive into what Intelligent Virtual Assistants and other technologies can do for your team capacity issues, explore our eBook titled “The Sales Capacity Challenge: Never Miss a Sales-Ready Opportunity Again.”