Salesloft acquires Drift to bridge the disconnect between Sales, Marketing, and the buyer journey

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher February 16, 2024
Summary:
Why is Salesloft buying Drift? Here's the skinny.

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What do sellers need more than anything? They need to understand buyers in a way that enables them to build relationships and drive revenue. 

But there's a problem. There is a disconnect between Sales and Marketing. Yes, they are separate teams that do different jobs, but those jobs both support a single goal - drive revenues. How do you connect these groups in a way that aligns with the buyer journey?

Salesloft has already evolved from a prospecting platform to a full-cycle seller platform. It's now acquiring Drift to flesh out further this new vision of full-cycle selling. 

According to Salesloft's Chief Product Officer, Ellie Fields, the traditional funnel is broken, and it's hard to argue with her. Buyers don't proceed in the nice orderly fashion that's typically defined (awareness, consideration, decision, customer - or some form of that funnel/journey). Instead, they are all over the place.

That's even more true for B2B buying teams. Fields argues that Marketing and Sales have operated in silos, and it has been a disservice to the buyer because they are basically dropped from one team to the other with little to no explanation of why, resulting in the buyer often feeling like they are starting from the beginning when they engage Sales. 

The funnel is also not in service of the people doing the job, she contends. Nowhere do you see this more than when marketing struggles to define attribution and prove its value to the company, even when they are doing a ton of work. Simply put - marketers want credit for their role in the sale, and no attribution model can help them ensure that happens. 

But this isn't a story about Marketing. It's a story about Sales (although there are many benefits for marketing teams). And that story starts with the inability of Sales to trace the buyer's journey so they can have meaningful, intelligent conversations with buyers when they do reach out. 

With the Drift acquisition, Salesloft wants to give companies a way to connect the journey, connect revenue, and align their teams. 

Building a full-cycle seller workflow platform

A little backstory for context. Last year, Salesloft introduced Rhythm - a global revenue workflow platform powered by Conductor AI (Salesloft's proprietary AI engine). The platform integrates with martech and sales tech solutions to bring buyer signals into the platform. For example, it integrates with G2 to learn what competitors the buyer is looking at, with email marketing and marketing automation to understand how buyers engage in marketing programs. The AI analyzes these signals and then ranks and prioritizes the actions sellers should take next to acheive the best outcome. 

As more signals come in, the AI continually learns and prioritizes the workflow in real time. There's more to Rhythm, but that gives you an idea of how Salesloft enables sellers to be more personalized and contextual in their buyer relationships by seeing deeper into the funnel. It's a much better process than a simple structured sales cadence.

Back to Drift.

Salesloft had an existing integration with Drift, which was launched last year as part of its open ecosystem. The acquisition will deepen that integration in ways that further support sellers. One example Fields posits involves someone looking at a company's digital experience, then later having a conversation with Sales, and at some point bringing other buying group members in. One of the first things these other members might do is visit the website. 

Instead of giving these buying group members a generic website experience, the company will be able to engage with them on a more personalized and contextual level using Drift’s Site Conceirge product.

Concierge is a set of apps, including a chatbot, a recommended content app, a meeting app, and a GPT Search app that sits on a website and offers visitors a faster way to find information, delivering high-intent buyers a more personalized experience. The data from interactions with these apps is fed back into Salesloft, letting sellers know that members of the buying group were on the website and what they did. 

While Drift is primarily known as a platform for conversational marketing, it also offers solutions for Sales, so the acquisition isn’t out of left field. Fields says the firm is currently looking at the chatbot capabilities, particularly Drift’s “impressive AI portfolio” that can help buyers quickly get the information they need.

Sellers have been living in a world of managing administrative data, she argues. Rhythm has given them a single place to work with all the signals coming in. The more powerful the workflow gets and the more partner data that comes in, the more this administrative work goes away. It becomes easier for the seller to focus on what they want to do - figure out how to guide the process and form relationships. 

Building AI in the right way

A lot of Sales teams are looking at how they can leverage AI to take on more of their routine - administrative - tasks. According to the Salesloft State of AI in Sales report, 95% of respondents use AI, particularly for taking over routine tasks. Fields says: 

I really deeply believe that AI is not going to replace sellers in big deals. You always need the guidance; you need the trust. You need people to have a shared commitment to value, right, and that's something that an AI isn't going to do. But you don't need a seller to help you find that white paper, or you don't need a seller to ask the basic questions.

Drift will continue to be sold separately, but at the same time, Fields pitches that they will lean harder into the integration and bridge these flows between Marketing and Sales, stating CMOs and CROs will become more aligned on GTM because they will now be able to go to market on one buyer journey. 

Salesloft and Drift already have 250 joint customers, and combined, they have over 6,000 customers, so there is much opportunity to cross-sell and grow the company. 

My take

This is a Sales story - acquiring Drift to give sellers deeper insights into the buyer's journey. This view is increasingly important as buyers wait longer to engage Sales in the buying process. When they finally decide to talk to Sales, Sales needs to come in with as much understanding of the buyer's needs as possible to continue the journey. 

Without that understanding, it is like starting from scratch, and no buying team will want to tell their story from the beginning when they know very well the company has been tracking them on some level. Even if they don't know that, the seller that shows they understand them best and can quickly match that understanding to what their product or solution does will have a lead. 

From a Sales team perspective, this acquisition makes sense. And it does help bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing, but I wonder what will eventually happen to the marketing customers who don't use Salesloft. There's a lot to figure out how that side of the company will continue on. 

 

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