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Humanizing “Bot People” with Sara Pion {Hey Salespeople Podcast}

As Conversational Marketing Manager at Drift, Sara Pion knows that the human-to-human part of the sales process can’t be left out of the equation.

She explains that automated or not, conversations still come down to personal connection. Whether it’s fine-tuning chats between bots and customers or ditching her computer for a face-to-face meeting with her sales team, Sara is a master at quick engagement, efficient processes, and keeping relationships fluid.

Listen to this episode of Hey Salespeople to hear more about her journey from up-selling as a kid at a lemonade stand to using insights to solve pain points today.

sara pion

Listen here, and keep reading for some of the highlights from this episode below.


Successfully Driving Inbound

Jeremey: What other techniques do you guys use to drive inbound? What are some of the other highly successful things besides the inbound response benchmarking?

Sara: So, we actually just started our own team internally of chat development representatives or CDRs. We created this position, understanding that when you put a chat product on your website, there needs to be someone there on the other side.

Even if most of the conversations are automated by the intelligent bots, it still doesn’t take the human-to-human part of the sales process out of the equation. So we added two CDRs to our team and they sit in chat and talk to our future customers and our current customers all day and write up learnings and understand how people are talking with us on our website, but are also there to respond to people immediately.

This really helps because people come on to the site and they know that we’re the quote-unquote “bot people.”  It also helps to see that there is a person on the other side of the line that’s there to help answer more complex questions, give you a more in-depth understanding of how the product works, etc. and having a human face and a human name on the other side of that conversation has proven to be really helpful with just having more conversations and booking more meetings with our inbound traffic.

So we have two of them at the moment and they are absolutely rocking it, we already have MR-influenced by the CDRs, we have meetings booked by the CDRS, and they’re measured in a similar way to an SDR or VDR. We really focus on the reply time and how many emails that they’re getting in chat and how many meetings they’re booking for the AE team in chat and how many touchless deals are helping influence with our smaller businesses.

Who is coming on to our website, who might not be a good fit to actually talk to our sales team, but can do their own self-learning and self-educating and then sign up on their own? So they’ve added just another layer of help of our inbound strategy to just drive more conversations without having our AEs have to answer every single inbound request that comes in.

No Meetings Mindset

Jeremey: At SalesLoft, SDRs come to a meeting with sales leadership, in addition to their scrums, and so on. If we have a critical marketing initiative or campaign, then the marketing person comes to that meeting. We’re trying to not have the SDR sit and sit in too many meetings, right?

We want them engaging prospects. Why have them do two meetings as opposed to the traditional approach, I guess where you have the marketing person visit the sales meeting.

Sara: We are a big “no meetings” culture at Drift.

So our marketing team meeting is once a month for an hour, and we try and make it as succinct as possible. The reason we have like all of the SDR teams come to our marketing meeting is so that we can show them the like the effect that they’ve had on our organization and our MQA number and our MPC number, and just recognize them for the work that they’ve done.

Then, we have our senior leadership go to the sales meetings as well only so that they can stay formed on what’s working and what isn’t. But I think it just helps us to recognize the BDRs for all of the work that they’ve been doing so that they don’t feel like whatever they’re doing, we’re just like, yeah, sure, thanks for doing your job. We actually recognize them for all the work that they put in, especially on our account-based marketing efforts because they are enterprise BDRs.

So we just like to help them understand the impact that they have on us. And also what’s coming next, how aware we are when we’re hitting our goals, like what sorts of tips and tricks we think might be able to be useful for them, when they are also engaging with prospects, what sorts of content they want to see from us, what sorts of content has been working really well in their outreach.

Just keeping all of that sort of just the sales and marketing alignment piece of it is really useful when we have everyone in the same room talking about the same thing and able to recognize and appreciate each other. Something that we do really well at Drift is internal communication.

So we post what we’re doing every single day in our Slack channel saying like, “Hey, for me today, I’m going to be working on optimizing our online and offline bot flows that we can make sure that the CDR’s are routed in when they’re here and not when they’re not, etc. But we also do a lot of internal video sharing. So we are really heavy Slack users, which makes email a little bit more of a powerful communication tool, especially if something’s a little bit more serious or touches more parts of the business than just your specific department.

So people will record a video of them going through slides, sharing an update, and then email it out to the whole team and be like, send me your thoughts. Let me know what you think about this, versus having everyone sit down in a meeting and whiteboard, come to a consensus and we’re big on no consensus, do the thing that like you want to do and then have people ask questions about that.

Don’t just share your work when it’s a finished product, share your work while you’re working on something. So we try and have a constant stream of communication, which can make it hard to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

But it makes it really easy for you to look back at the transcripts of conversations you were having with your team and say like “Oh man, it looks like I missed this.” We talked about this thing, like ages ago and here is the video that goes along with it so that information is never lost.

So we do a bunch of video and bunch of sharing on Slack to combat that “this could have been a meeting” sort of mindset.

THERE’S A LOT MORE AFTER THIS! Listen to the full podcast for more.


If you have a passion for the art and the science of sales, are looking to further your career, or just want to hear some great, practical tips, ‘Hey Salespeople’ is the podcast for you. Subscribe so you can follow along as Jeremey interviews the brightest minds in modern sales to bring you immediately actionable advice. Listen and subscribe here.

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