When prospective customers see your product in action, they’re more likely to purchase it.

And when they receive a personal invitation to schedule a demonstration, they’re more likely to want to see your product in action, says Brett McHale of Wordstream.

This feedback-based, relationship-building approach is called “conversational marketing.” Based on the simple practice of listening to customers and responding to their needs in the moment, it’s a powerful way to build bridges that lead to demonstrations, negotiations, and sales.

Yet as a SaaS company grows, it will run into a core challenge: How do you scale that personal approach to booking product demonstrations? Finding the right place to switch from bot conversation to human connections can be tricky as well; and no company wants to burn bridges during the learning process.

This is where conversation bots come in. They can help SaaS companies build the relationships that lead to product demos, while allowing human staff to focus their energies on closing the sale and onboarding the customer.

Making the Conversation Easier

Right now, most SaaS companies (as well as hotel chains and companies in many verticals) rely on online booking systems to connect with potential customers. The problem with this tactic is it puts the onus on the prospect: They’re the one staring at a calendar because no one at the company can be bothered to discuss appointment times. Conversation bots are primed to solve that pain point, Jan Buza of Exponea writes. They can engage with prospects, let the prospect know they’re being attended to, and get the meeting booked.

Conversation bots can help SaaS companies realize the goal of having an effective, user-friendly product demo booking system, says HeyMojo CEO Jagdish Repaswal. The bot can lead visitors to the information they need, which can pique their interest in a product demonstration. It can then gather necessary information and even schedule the appointment within a few clicks instead of forcing visitors to grapple with complex forms.

While guiding visitors toward the goal of scheduling a demonstration, the conversation bot can also make the process feel more like a friendly chat. The entire conversation can take only a few steps, or it can be extended if visitors have questions before booking their demo, says HiJiffy co-founder Pedro Gonçalves.

The right conversation bot starts a SaaS company’s relationship with a prospective customer on the right note. “Consumers appreciate being able to ask a question and receive an immediate answer, or schedule a consultation in a fraction of the time, or have a funny conversation that helps them decide what to buy,” says SaaS consultant Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, co-author of “Playbook to Grow Your SaaS Business With Your Customers.”

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Answering Early Questions

Answering visitors’ questions early has a profound impact on sales. Responding to a new lead within 5 minutes can increase your company’s chances of retaining that lead and drawing them into the product demo, says Vladimir Kazankov, tech consultant at BelitSoft. A human may not be available to respond around the clock, but a conversation bot can.

For visitors, the conversation bot may seem like a friendly guide or partner. Yet the bot can perform double duty, gathering the visitor’s information to prepare SaaS staff for the demonstration itself.

Alex Ryo Yamamoto at Intercom warns that personalization before the demo itself is a must. “If you do not tailor your product demo to who you are talking to, you will lose.”

Fortunately, SaaS providers have a rich source of information at the preparation stage. Yamamoto also notes that most customers have completed 57 percent of their purchasing journey before they schedule a product demonstration with a live human being.

A well-designed conversation bot can ensure that more customers reach the 57 percent point, and it can collect the data the product team needs to prepare a personalized live presentation — and they can often do it more effectively than forms, Alex Cohen at Xander Marketing says.

Cohen cites the example of RapidMiner, a data science SaaS company that replaced all the forms on its website with conversation bots. According to Cohen, the company experienced 10 percent growth in sales and a 30 percent reduction in their churn rate thanks to the bots.

Another example is RewardStrem’s Leadbot, which converted more leads than human contacts, netting 30 percent conversion in its first six weeks on the job, according to Enoch Pakanati at The SMarketers.

Conversation Bots and Economies of Scale

When it comes to effective selling, few things work better than a live, personal product demonstration. Yet these demonstrations can be extremely hard to scale, as Intercom’s senior managers Ruairí Galavan and Phil Byrne note.

Conversation bots solve the scale problem because they can talk to 1 person, 10 people or 10,000 people at once. As your SaaS company achieves new growth targets, the conversation bot will reliably be there to gather data from potential customers, offer support as needed, and point users to the information they need to inform their purchase.

They can help save money, too. According to data compiled by venture capitalist Ezra Galston at Breaking VC, any customer support task that can be automated sees a return of 400 percent to 2,220 percent on every dollar that gets re-invested in some other aspect of company operations.

Tasking conversation bots with greeting visitors and guiding them to set up product demonstrations can help reduce the cost of early relationship-building — and allow staff to focus on the more personal connections built during a product demonstration, says David Kosmayer at Chanty.

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Making the Timely Connection

Conversation bots that guide users all the way through to a product demo can then seamlessly hand off the lead to a human contact at the right moment in the process.

While conversation bots can be used to close deals and onboard users, those are tasks best left to humans, Andy Mura at Userlane says. “Users who feel stuck or frustrated when trying to accomplish first tasks within a piece of software or while attempting to set up the whole environment to be productive within your application will quickly churn.”

By connecting the new client with a human partner at the company, however, the flow of this onboarding process can be better directed from the demo forward, decreasing the risk of churn by focusing your staff members’ efforts where they are more valuable.

Putting It All Together

To implement a conversation bot that captivates potential customers and encourages them to say “Yes” to a scheduled product demonstration:

  • Examine what past demo participants read, viewed, or asked before scheduling their demo. Prepare your conversation bot to provide similar information.

  • Incorporate a voice and tone that match your organization’s personality and approach.

  • Build in tools for the conversation bot to gather information and forward it to the staff responsible for executing the demonstration.

  • Consider creating a conversation bot to help staff through the demo process, as well, by offering answers to frequently asked questions, audience information, and similarly useful data.

  • Know when the conversation bot can help visitors and when it’s time to refer them to human staff.

A conversation bot can improve conversion rates, schedule product demos more efficiently, and lay the groundwork for a profitable long-term relationship between a SaaS provider and the customers it serves.