Drift: The New Way Businesses Buy From Businesses
Drift Inc, one of the world’s foremost conversational marketing and sales platforms, recently announced that they obtained another $60 million in Series C financing, driven by Sequoia Capital, bringing its aggregate funding to $107 million.
The start-up company was founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs David Cancel and Elias Torres, after they previously founded Performable, a marketing automation company which was then acquired to become part of Hubspot Inc. In the first three years Drift managed to raise $47 Million and the pair became determined to take their own company Drift Inc. public themselves. “We had made this commitment from the beginning that we wanted to build a standalone company, so we wanted to raise enough money to go public one day,” Cancel said.
The company also stated that they will use the new funding to invest in its customer chat and automation platform, expand outside the United States, and explore the acquisition of other companies. With the latest round of funding: "We’ll probably start to look at — in the near-term — any acquisitions or any kind of acquiring companies or technology. I don’t know if we’ll make one or not, but we’ll be hungry to look at stuff we hadn’t looked at before,” Cancel said.
Drift is the new way that businesses buy from businesses, that is, they bring conversational marketing to the forefront. It is replacing the traditional B2B marketing and sales process that can take time and frustrate potential customers. Drift connects businesses with the best leads in real-time, helping them have real conversations with qualified buyers. The approach that they are taking will provide a modern buying experience, generating more qualified leads, and ultimately accelerating the sales cycle.
The Drift’s platform is currently offered for Marketing Teams and Sales Teams, with the following features:
- ABM – Account Based Marketing – offers a new designed dashboard that allows customers to manage target accounts.
- Drift Sequences – Is the sales email reinvented which helps sales reps create amazing buying experiences for potential customers.
- Email Marketing – Drift Marketing email drives personal, real-time conversations at scale.
- Drift Chatbot – Drift Chatbot is a powerful conversational bot that can ask qualification questions and create leads in the CRM.
- Meetings - Drift is a new personal scheduling assistant that works 24/7.
- Integrations – Allows users to connect Drift’s conversational marketing & selling platform to the rest of the stack: Salesforce, Stack, Hubspot and Marketo just to name a few.
Obsessed with customer experience, Cancel mentioned that he wants to eventually build an alternative to Amazon to make it easier for companies to make large orders “changing the way business buy from businesses.”
“Amazon revolutionized how people buy with the one-click buying experience, and that’s what we all expect online today,” said Cancel. “But when it comes to B2B, the buying process is painful. Companies force buyers to fill out forms and jump through so many hoops just to talk to them, despite the fact that most buying decisions have already been made by the time someone comes to your website. We’re on a mission to build the most customer-centric company in the world and make B2B buying as easy as buying from Amazon.”
Drift helps businesses across a variety of sectors, but mostly B2B companies that sell products and services to other businesses, by improving their sales and marketing efforts. The startup’s products include chatbots, which are a trend taking hold in the online experience more this year, that interact with visitors to a company’s website. If a human isn’t available to chat, the bot will attempt to answer the visitor’s questions with the idea to help businesses more easily find promising inbound sales leads and close deals more quickly, while also improving the buying experience for customers. Drift says the bot can gather the lead’s contact information, attempt to assess the likelihood that lead will turn into a sale, and help schedule calls and meetings, among other capabilities.
“Companies struggle to have conversations with their customers,” Torres says. “We are helping them drive more conversations. Because sometimes it’s really hard to be scheduling phone calls with everybody.”
Drift’s leaders argue that the way businesses communicate is starting to look like how people connect with friends and family—Torres cites “the rise of messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. And standard sales and marketing tools are no longer cutting it, especially because companies can’t effectively build global operations if they’re working (say) a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, Eastern time zone schedule.”
Drift “turns those conversations into customers,” Cancel explained. He mentioned that the technology is comparable to what is commonly used for customer service. It’s the “same messaging that was used for support, but used in the sales context.” By expanding its offerings Cancel says that he has hope that Drift will be viable competition for Salesforce.
Currently Drift has 100,000 clients including, InVision, OnDemand, Zenefits, MongoDB, Zuora and AdRoll, and they did mention, with the new funding they will also be considering acquisitions of voice or video companies or others whose services can complement or improve their current offerings.
Communication is key to any successful business and after reading David Cancel’s blog “Behind Our Series C” I truly feel the same way that he does about communication in the customer experience. The buying experience from businesses should be easy and enjoyable but most importantly be treating customers with respect and care, and not just as another sale. Sales communication with the customer, is the key to building customer experience. Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon said it best “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.” With their current rapid growth and leadership, I’m sure Drift will in no time reach their goals on becoming one of the big players in the industry.