Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Erik Devaney. Erik is a brand marketer at Drift, the world’s first and only conversational marketing and sales platform. A regular contributor to the Drift blog, Erik has spent the past eight years writing and designing content that produces measurable results for brands and businesses. Before joining Drift, he worked at HubSpot as a content strategist.
Your account-based marketing (ABM) prospects aren’t researching and buying products the way they used to.
That’s because these days, buyers expect everything to happen on-demand. Think about it:
Want to listen to your favorite song, or watch your favorite movie or TV show?
With just a few clicks, you’re streaming it.
Want to order a pizza? And order a bottle of champagne to go with that pizza? And order some new champagne flutes (because your stupid cat knocked over the old ones)?
With just a few clicks, you can have all of those things delivered to your door in under an hour — or you can schedule for them to arrive at a time that’s convenient for you.
That’s the type of on-demand experience today’s buyers have come to expect. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s tailored to the needs of the customer (not the company).
So why aren’t we providing that same type of experience to our ABM prospects when they land on our websites?
ABM’s Weak Spot
For years, we’ve been treating people from our target accounts like any other website visitor: when they land on our site, we prompt them to fill out a lead capture form and then make them wait for a follow-up.
Granted, this is a terrible buying experience for any lead. But to force your ABM prospects — your company’s best leads — to wait for follow-up calls or emails when they’re already live on your site and ready to talk … that’s a huge wasted opportunity.
Today’s buyers don’t want to fill out forms. Case in point: 81% of them opt not to fill out the form when they encounter gated content. They’d rather get the information elsewhere.
So, what’s the alternative?
Give the prospects from your target accounts that visit your website a direct line to your sales team by replacing your lead forms with conversations.
With the traditional approach, we’re investing tons of time, energy, and money into convincing our best leads to visit our website, only to ignore them once they get there.
Imagine walking into a store and trying to buy something, but no one will talk to you or answer your questions. Instead, your only option is to write your contact information down on a notepad and wait.
Not a great experience.
But by applying the principles of conversational marketing to ABM, you can finally deliver the on-demand experience your ABM prospects deserve.
The Rise of Conversational Account-Based Marketing
At Drift, we recently teamed up with our friends at Clearbit to analyze the sales conversations happening on thousands of B2B websites. (We published the results in our 2017 State of Conversational Marketing report.)
Turns out, people who work at companies of all sizes, in all sectors sectors, and in nearly every industry are starting conversations on B2B websites.
When we looked at sales conversations by role, we found that 7.4% were CEOs, and another 6.5% were founders.
The takeaway here:
Today’s decision-makers are looking for (and already engaging in) a conversational buying experience.
Is your team ready to adapt?
Preparing for the Future
Imagine a world where ABM prospects receive personalized greetings from their account owners as soon as they land on your website.
For prospects who have visited your site before, your message might be a simple, “Welcome back. Let me know if you have any questions.”
Or, if you’re engaging with someone from a target account for the first time, imagine being able to call out the name of the company they work at in your message and/or the names of competitors or other companies in their industry that are using your product.
With the old approach, landing on a website felt like walking into an empty store. With conversational ABM, it’s like there’s a personal concierge who’s ready to help at a moment’s notice.
Want to book a meeting with a sales rep?
Imagine being able to schedule a time on that rep’s calendar with just a few clicks.
Have some questions about the product?
Imagine getting answers instantly from a virtual assistant (a.k.a. chatbot). And for the trickier questions — the ones that require a human touch — imagine being automatically routed to the employees who are best-equipped to answer those questions.
That’s the type of white glove treatment ABM prospects should be getting on your website.
The longer you wait to add this on-demand buying experience to your site, the more sales conversations you’ll be missing out on.