How AI helped this B2B marketer improve sales quality leads

Senior global director for campaigns and performance marketing at Talkdesk shares the automated capabilities improving pre-qualified marketing lead efforts

Leads may be the goal of any B2B marketer’s lead-generation activity, but not all are created equal.

For US-based maker of cloud contact centre and customer experience technology Talkdesk, changes to its marketing programs had boosted pre-marketing qualified leads (pre-MQLs), but not the quality of what was being passed through to its sales development representatives (SDRs).

“We run a variety of campaigns that are geared around thought leadership, talking about improvements, efficiencies, and operational gains,” Talkdesk senior director for global campaigns and performance marketing, Kim Roman, told CMO. “What we are trying to do through campaigns we are running is really target folk who are running call centres, managing operations and IT, and those types of personas, and get them to understand the efficiencies they can gain with our software.”

According to Roman, changes made to the marketing organisation in late 2021 resulted in more leads coming in than ever before. But this influx was not matched by the scale of the SDR team.

“We ended up with this big sea of leads, where we had to essentially figure out which ones were really interested and which weren’t ready yet,” Roman said.

That led her and her team to investigate the options provided by artificial intelligence (AI)-based systems that could help Talkdesk better determine which leads were worth pursuing. In turn, that led to AI developer, Conversica. Initially, Roman’s interest was in scaling the efforts of the SDR team, but she soon realised there was more value that could be unlocked.

“What we ended up doing was using it as more of a prospecting tool, to figure out from this mass amount of pre-MQLs we had, which ones were actually going to be ready to send over to the SDRs to follow up,” Roman said.

Because Talkdesk is itself a CX technology maker, Roman was acutely aware the vendor would be judged through its own sales and marketing processes. This meant significant consideration was given to its choice of a vendor.

Kim RomanCredit: Talkdesk
Kim Roman


Since implementing Conversica, Talkdesk is seeing a 15.6 per cent engagement rate on pre-MQL outreach, compared to a 10.1 per cent engagement rate previously seen, with a 1.8 per cent hot lead conversion rate. Roman said this has been greatly appreciated by the SDRs.

“We found it improved not only the conversion rates and the amount of time they were spending on quality follow-ups, it also improved their perception of what we were sending them,” Roman said. “They are having much better conversations now.”

B2B marketing personality

Rather than simply create a generic AI, Roman and her team spent time developing a full persona, including giving it a name, Maya. Roman said the intention was to make Maya sound helpful and engaged in solving problems on behalf of potential customers.

“We wanted it to feel as much as a real person as possible,” Roman said. “We took time figuring out what we were going to call her and what her title was going to be. We very rarely say ‘the automated assistant’ - she is Maya to us. And that makes her feel like part of her team.”

Roman was also keen to have Maya to improve over time, and this was a critical factor when assessing Conversica’s technology.

“As we are looking at the outcome of conversations with the automated assistant, we can provide feedback and say ‘no, this means something else’,” Roman said. “That we way we know it is constantly learning. And the more we use it, the more we are making that a better experience.”

Maya has since been rolled out in four additional languages to support Talkdesk’s European operations. Roman said she is investigating how the technology might also support actions such as following up of remarketed leads and rejected leads. In addition, Talkdesk will strive to bring more personalisation into Maya’s interactions.

“We found the more personalised we can get in the follow up, the better,” Roman said. “We want to make sure the leads that are coming in do have that really positive experience, and that is what prospects are left with, through all the touchpoints, before they become a customer.”

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