Across industries, businesses are augmenting their workforces with an innovative technology to help attract, acquire and grow customers at scale, known as an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA).
Intelligent Virtual Assistants operate on a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence and intelligent automation to connect with leads and customers in personalized, two-way conversations. In this way, IVAs act as a virtual team member assisting revenue-generating teams such as Marketing, Sales or Customer Success. But what does that actually look like in practice? How can businesses get the most out of their IVA deployments to better resonate with their leads or customers?
To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at how CloudCheckr, a total visibility cloud management platform, uses their Intelligent Virtual Assistants to convert more leads into pipeline.
During the SiriusDecisions Virtual Summit, Rashmi Vittal (CMO at Conversica) joined Eric Potter (Director of Marketing Technology at CloudCheckr) and Deb Schleede (Senior Marketing Operations Manager at CloudCheckr) to discuss how CloudCheckr uses their IVA, their results and a few best practices they picked up along the way. For those who missed the event or just want a refresher, this blog post summarizes a few of the talking points from that case study presentation.
When CloudCheckr brought on the Conversica Sales AI Assistant in 2018, the team was facing a number of common challenges including leads “stuck” in the top or middle of the funnel and an underperforming email campaign strategy. The goal was to accelerate lead conversion at each stage of the funnel, as well as alleviate much of the sales capacity challenges occupying their team of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to allow them to focus more on hot leads.
The CloudCheckr team started by bucketing everything into two conversation groups or “skills”. These skills were:
- REACTIVATE Dormant Demand to proactively initiate contact with prospects who previously expressed interest, but who went dark for more than 90 days,
- And POST-EVENT Engagement to connect with leads as the first point of contact following an event such as a customer conference, trade show, booth visit, webinar, demo request or virtual event.
The Intelligent Virtual Assistant hired by CloudCheckr made it easy to connect with every lead (hot or cold) and autonomously match them with the proper action; whether elevating a Sales-ready lead to the attention of an SDR or putting non-Sales-ready leads into a nurture stream. The CloudCheckr team used the Conversica Sales AI Assistant to hit everyone in their CRM database which resulted in more qualification meetings with SDRs.
Following CloudCheckr’s initial successes with their IVA, the team decided to grow the capabilities of the Sales AI Assistant to include additional skills such as PRE-EVENT Outreach to drive attendance to webinars and events, ENGAGE Demand to act as a first point of contact for incoming leads, and CULTIVATE Early Interest to reach out to prospects who signaled potential interest but have not yet requested contact.
An Intelligent Virtual Assistant: The Basics
Intelligent Virtual Assistants are the next generation of intelligent automation helping companies attract, acquire and grow customers at scale through prompt, persistent and personalized messages.
At the moment the contact arrives (e.g. through a badge scan at an event or by completing a lead form), the IVA crafts a personalized message to engage the lead and determine their interest in speaking to a Salesperson. If the lead has no interest in talking to Sales, the IVA opts them out of communications and moves on. The time saved by not going after these uninterested contacts cannot be understated.
Research conducted by Conversica finds that it takes seven to 10 attempts on average to determine intent, but that the majority of Salespeople only make two to three attempts. Expecting your Sales staff to reach out nearly a dozen times to each and every incoming lead is simply not reasonable or sustainable, which is why companies like CloudCheckr opt for an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to better handle lead outreach.
Similarly, IVAs are very prompt in their communications. Conversica research finds that leads touched within five minutes of attending a virtual event or in-person booth scan (once those come back) are 21 times more likely to qualify than leads touched after 30 minutes or longer.
While IVAs are ready for out-of-the-box deployment, they are also amenable to quick and easy customization for specific campaigns. Additionally, the Conversica Sales AI Assistant seamlessly integrates into marketing automation or CRM platforms including Salesforce, Marketo and Hubspot.
Before bringing on an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to help attract and acquire leads, CloudCheckr had an 11 percent engagement rate, 1 percent hot lead rate, and .5 percent opportunity rate.
“After using Conversica, everything skyrocketed,” says Deb Schleede, Senior Marketing Operations Manager at CloudCheckr. “Engagement rates have improved, but those are turning into actual opportunities.”
The Conversica Sales AI Assistant helped CloudCheckr achieve a 15 percent engagement rate, a 5 percent hot lead rate, and a 2.3 percent opportunity rate. The IVA and team accomplished this increased performance through a combination of personalization, persistence, timing and offering value in their communications with prospects.
Best Practices and Lessons Learned
The CloudCheckr team learned a lot about how to best use an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to attract, acquire and grow customers in a scalable and efficient manner.
Here are a few of their best practices and lessons learned:
- The more specific your message is, the more engagement you will see. People are busy and sometimes they forget even interacting with your company. Give them a reminder. For example, if you are following up after a webinar, you say so in your initial email.
- Offer content pieces and resources ahead of a call with an expert or Salesperson. CloudCheckr reports seeing a huge jump in engagement after employing this method because it makes messages more relatable and valuable than pushing a Sales call alone.
- Consider audience segmentation. Be careful not to send messages to everyone in your CRM as CloudCheckr did initially. Your CRM probably contains existing customers and prospects already in conversations with your Sales team. It’s best to develop a set of best practices to reach out to contacts based on audience segmentation, ICPs and current status.
- Use an IVA to connect with leads who haven’t yet hit the MQL threshold. While lead scoring is valuable in predicting when a contact might be interested in a meeting with Sales, it is only an estimate. By directly asking “are you interested?” at scale, an Intelligent Virtual Assistant can help accelerate leads stuck in the funnel.
- Wake up leads who’ve fallen off the radar. Occasionally, leads will consume lots of Marketing materials before going silent. CloudCheckr uses their Intelligent Virtual Assistant to continue to politely and persistently chase down these leads and nurture them until they express intent.
After implementing these best practices, CloudCheckr saw even more promising results. Which is why they decided to bring on a second junior-level Conversica Sales AI Assistant to go after leads with low to no engagement. Already, the team is garnering a lot of positive outcomes.
CloudChecker plans to roll out two additional Conversica segments to help generate demand and retain that demand by targeting net-new cold contacts showing buyer’s intent and contacting within target accounts who have not responded to a Sales rep in >30 days.
What will your success story be?
See what Conversica customers have to say about how Intelligent Virtual Assistants enable them to attract, acquire and grow customers at scale.
And listen to the on-demand webinar “Funnel Optimization to ABM: How CloudCheckr Uses Intelligent Virtual Assistants to Convert More Leads into Pipeline.”