You know the drill. A web user visits your website, fills out a lead form and downloads a whitepaper from your Resources section. This lead is qualified by Marketing and handed over to Sales for follow-up. But how do you know this lead is truly ready to talk to Sales?
That’s a question that occupied Kevin Colosimo, Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation for North America Marketing at Oracle, when considering how to improve coordination between Marketing and Sales. Colosimo discusses his experience during a recent Vengreso podcast.
Below, we will walk you through the challenges and opportunities facing the Marketing and Sales teams at Oracle, how they tested various technologies and strategies to get more out of their qualified leads, and how the Conversica Sales AI Assistant aided these efforts.
The Marketing and Sales Disconnect
Oracle is known as a leading provider of databases and cloud technology, along with a wide array of business software and solutions. Recently, the company has pushed to adopt new technologies and innovations internally to improve its Marketing and Sales processes.
In regards to Oracle’s cloud business, Marketing teams were pushed to focus on generating large volumes of leads to try to hit pipeline targets. The plan was partially successful in that Marketing teams generated a high volume of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to hit their targets, but unfortunately, many of the leads generated were not ready to talk to Sales.
This illustrates a disconnect between Marketing and Sales that is all too common. Marketing works hard to generate leads in hopes that Sales will effectively and completely work each contact. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to work every lead so Salespeople naturally follow up with only the leads they believe are most likely to convert. Nobody wants to follow up on potentially lethargic leads, especially when it may take weeks to connect.
This left Oracle asking an important question: How can we do a better job identifying conversation-ready (a.k.a. Sales-ready) leads at scale, given the volumes we needed to generate?
When it comes to optimizing operations, businesses need to examine and test potential solutions in order to determine the best course of action.
At first, Colosimo’s team investigated flowing more non-Sales-ready leads to their nurture campaigns. But when they looked at the data, the team discovered that traditional approaches to nurturing prospects only goes so far.
Traditional nurture campaigns, Colosimo explains, are good at educating contacts and keeping them informed about important trends and best practices. However, these campaigns cannot aptly identify which leads are Sales-ready, which was Oracle’s primary objective.
Another opportunity considered was revamping the lead scoring models via machine learning and predictive analytics. The intention was to get smarter about predicting when and where in the nurture cycle leads are ready for a conversation with Sales.
After a bit of experimentation and testing, Colosimo’s team realized this strategy had its limitations. Just because a lead looks like other high-converting leads doesn’t necessarily mean that this specific person is ready to talk to Sales.
“We saw a lot of leads being passed to Sales, not because they had a desire to talk,” Colosimo said during the Vangresso podcast. “But because their ‘digital body language’ had resulted in a high enough lead score.”
The conclusion? Better and higher scoring leads are not, in themselves, sufficient for identifying Sales-ready leads.
Ultimately, Colosimo’s team decided to take a fresh approach to identify Sales-ready leads by leveraging Sales AI Assistants from Conversica.
Taking Conversica for a Test Run
Colosimo’s team at Oracle decided to adopt Conversica’s Intelligent Virtual Assistants to take on the challenges of assessing lead intent at scale. As with the other strategies Oracle tested, they wanted to take things slow to determine the value of the AI solution before growing its use cases.
Colosimo’s team selected two use cases for the pilot program. Specifically, Colosimo put the Sales AI Assistant on re-engaging leads that were previously passed to the Sales team but were retired because the salesperson couldn’t get a hold of them. The intention was to see if the Sales AI Assistant from Conversica might achieve better results than traditional re-engagement nurture programs. Oracle also redirected new leads coming from high-volume but low-converting programs to see if the Sales team could generate just as many leads using Conversica as they did with the reps reaching out.
The results were astounding! Oracle saw an overall Sales-ready engagement rate of 20 percent. This was a paradigm shift in how Oracle does business. The Sales AI Assistant reaches out to the large volume of leads generated by Marketing and passes over hand-raisers at the moment the are ready to talk to Sales.
In the end, Oracle determined that Conversica’s Intelligent Virtual Assistants are best used to augmented Marketing and Sales teams.
Oracle Augmenting Marketing and Sales Teams with Intelligent Virtual Assistants
Oracle successfully combines AI-enabled Intelligent Virtual Assistants with the Marketing and Sales professionals, thus allowing each party to do what they do best.
First, the Sales AI Assistant engages a selection of contacts (i.e. leads who have yet to respond) by sending each lead a personalized, friendly and human-like message which inspires two-way conversations. Even if the contact doesn’t respond within the first day, the first week or even the first month, the Sales AI Assistant will continue its outreach in a persistent and polite way until intent is determined.
Conversica Sales AI Assistants are smart in that they read and interpret intent within communications with the lead in order to determine the next best action. If someone raises their hand to speak with a Salesperson, the Sales AI Assistant automatically confirms the best number for the Salesperson to reach the prospect while also alerting the account manager that there’s a new hot lead.
Sales reps pick up the conversation from there. And since the Sales AI Assistant provides context on the conversations it hosted with the lead, Salespeople can focus on what they do best, converting leads into opportunities. The big win? Salespeople are now focused primarily on leads that have raised their hand, as opposed to having to split their attention on emailing and phoning the vast volume of non-Sales-ready leads.
Forty-eight hours later, the Sales AI Assistant follows up with the lead to confirm that he or she was able to get the information they needed during the call. Thus, the Sales AI Assistant immediately closes the loop and ensures that no lead is left untouched.
“We partnered with [Conversica] because of their proven success and deep experience in this space. And we’ve used their platform to built out four Virtual Assistants to support multiple pre-purchase and post-purchase use cases,” Colosimo said. “We’re really excited about how we can leverage these Virtual Assistants to do a better job in identifying conversation-ready leads.”
Oracle currently leverages four Conversica AI Assistants to match different use cases including applications, technology, events and Customer Success; evidence that the “go slow and grow” strategy is working for this tech giant.
Want to hear more about Oracle’s experience using Conversica’s Sales AI Assistants? Listen to the Vengreso Modern Marketing Engine Podcast episode titled “Identify Conversation-Ready Leads Faster With An AI Assistant.”
Curious to see how a Sales AI Assistant might benefit your approach lead outreach? Request a demo today!