Having frequently written about and advised companies on the challenges of business-to-business selling, I found this funding news interesting. A new start-up emerging from one of the best alumni pools in SaaS, Salesforce, has raised a $12 million Series A round. The company, Qualified, is on a mission is to change the arc of B2B sales conversations.
It’s no secret that B2B selling has become more challenging at every point along the food chain. Whether you’re selling to enterprise or small businesses, most buyers are inundated with sales pitches and sales calls. Some are spot-on. Many are irrelevant. At the same time, according to Qualified’s co-founder and CEO Kraig Swensrud, most businesses have little idea who is visiting their websites. And even when they know who might be on their website, they don’t have the necessary information to turn those visits into highly qualified sales leads.
Qualified is out to change that. The company appears to be born out of Swensrud’s frustration as Salesforce CMO when he couldn’t quite figure out what motivated any given site visitor. As he explains to TechCrunch, “There could be 10 or 100 or 100,000 people on my website right now. And I don’t know who they are, I don’t know what they’re interested in. My sales team has no idea that they’re even there.”
Taking the Chatbot a Step Further
Qualified is attempting to make the next logical step in linking what may be known in a Salesforce instance and connect that to the website visitor so that a company – large or small – can address that visitor with the most relevant interaction. One way to look at what Qualified is doing is taking the notion of the chatbot a step further. Chatbots are increasingly important for delivering an immediate response to a website visitor. No one really wants to dump a bunch of information into some blind contact form anymore.
Qualified is taking this one step further by making sure that if the company has a Salesforce instance that it can connect whatever information is in that Salesforce database to the website visitor. Seems like a pretty intelligent approach for raising the level of customer engagement. Imagine landing on a website, and all of a sudden a sales representative has at their fingertips information about your company, its line of business, and potential needs? That will certainly go a long way to shrinking the selling cycle.
Can a Sales Rep Know too Much?
The richness of that sales experience will likely depend on the amount of information about a prospect residing in Salesforce. Today the sales experience is frustrating because the sales representative often has very little information about a prospect. At the same time, is there a point at which the salesperson knows or shares too much about a prospect? There is a spooky factor that Qualified needs to address. Yet the focus is certainly in the right place. Turning the prospect/sales representative interaction into a conversation instead of a sales monologue.
We know the current B2B sales approach doesn’t work very well anymore. But with the approach Qualified is taking, will prospects feel like the sales representative is too far forward in the cycle? Maybe a prospect really just wants to explore what a company offers by spending time on a company’s website. How will Qualified distinguish between prospects that just want to look around and those interested in a conversation? That’s one advantage of the chatbot, it allows the prospect to make that distinction. Could Qualified wreck that exploration process in the name of ramping up sales? That might just be a bridge too far.