After spending almost a week at the HubSpot Inbound conference, you can’t help but come away a little smarter and with some good insight into what the future holds for sales and marketing technology. However, after you get back to wherever home is, you need to be able to interpret the trends and the insights and turn them into strategies and tactics. Siting in conference break out sessions and learning about the technology of the future is the easy part. Implementing it appropriately and knowing what do with this new-found knowledge is the difficult part and the one that most companies struggle with and need help with.
At INBOUND 2016, the area that I found most interesting and possibly game changing is the area surrounding chatbots and specifically what role they can play in the buyer's journey. Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder of HubSpot, spent a good amount of time during his keynote discussing the new GrowthBot chatbot and walked through a short demo of its capabilities. You can use GrowthBot in Facebook’s Messenger app to tell it do things like “start a blog post” or “create a campaign” and GrowthBot instantly initiates that command and builds it for you.
More information about his announcement:
The question that I’m left asking myself is: what are the best applications for the use of chatbots and when will consumers be ready to interact with them?
Forward Facing Chatbots
A forward facing chatbot, as I’m defining it, is one that is accessed and used by your customers to learn more about your company and to help provide them with additional information without the use of a salesperson.
You can think about this type of forward facing bot as a replacement for a Live Chat function on your website. Instead of having a human being on the other side of the live chat, you would have your chatbot pre-loaded with FAQs and having access to your company’s knowledge base. Visitors to your website can ask questions of your chatbot, such as, “What is your pricing?” “Do you have any testimonials?” and “How does your product compare to your competitors?” If you are a good marketer and have been paying attention to what your prospects have been asking and what their challenges are, creating or finding the content that you would want to have available for your Chat Bot to provide should be easy.
Internal Facing Chatbots
An internal facing chatbot is one that can be used behind the corporate wall or a software such as HubSpot’s GrowthBot. These internal facing chatbots can focus on providing current customers a higher level of service or ease of use when interacting with your company’s product or services.
Another application of an internal facing chatbot that can be used is to allow customers to ask questions about how to better use your company’s products or services which can provide them with access to user manuals, customer service numbers, videos or other commonly-asked questions. The key here is to make it easier for a customer to get the information that they are looking for and to be able to access all of the great content your company has developed for customers.
In addition to the application of chatbots for clients, you can also build a chatbot for your sales team that provides them with a way to access sales enablement tools via your internal facing chatbot A salesperson can ask the chatbot to create an email to a specific contact and pull up a specific template so you can prepare an email to them. Some of these functions are available with HubSpot’s Growth Bot already and more functions are certainly in development.
Regardless of how you see your company using chatbots or not using chatbots, you can certainly benefit from approaching your sales and marketing in a similar way as chatbots. Find ways to make it easier for your prospects to access information and learn about your company’s product offerings. Make it easier for your customers to access training materials or product information that provides a better experience with your products and services. And most importantly, give your salespeople the sales enablement tools they need to easily create and share content with prospects and leads so that you can leverage your company’s knowledge base.