Think for a moment about chatbots for B2B lead generation\u2026 What do you feel? Do you recall The Terminator, The Matrix, or Westworld? These are just a tiny fraction (although probably the best ones) of our human culture that play on our subconscious fear of the machines we create. Or, perhaps you feel the fear of missing out? Everyone\u2019s talking about how this breathtaking technology is helping their business. Everyone but you…\u00a0You stop and ask yourself whether it\u2019s nobler to stay among the 99.5% of B2B companies that don\u2019t have chatbots. Or should you spend your time and money in order to finally adopt Conversational Marketing, dive in with technology and stand out in a sea of rivals? To chatbot or not?\u00a0In today\u2019s article, we\u2019ll examine the pros and cons of chatbots for B2B lead generation.Some good music to get that particular mood:Before beginning the in-depth discussion of the chatbots for B2B lead gen let\u2019s outline some basics to make sure that we\u2019re on the same page here.Chatbots are programs designed to simulate a human-to-human conversation. They\u2019re built to help businesses automate communication with customers and reduce the \u201chuman\u201d factor in these interactions.Types of chatbotsApplied in business (both B2C and B2B):1. By technology:AI \u2013 analyses the request written by a person and answers (still has problems with understanding human beings and natural language, also costly, so isn\u2019t great for lead gen).Preprogrammed \u2013 a user is offered to choose between several questions and based on their choice gets an answer2. By medium:Website.Social networks.Messenger.Email.3. By Purpose :For external use:Lead Generation\u00a0Lead scoring\/qualificationCustomer SupportSalesMixedFor internal use:automation of business processes, e.g. answering the regular inquiries to HR dept., scheduling, appointment booking, etc.4. By human participation:Fully digital (don\u2019t redirect to human \u2013 e.g. support)Half-digital (e.g., containing an inquiry to connect with a person)5. By \u201cworking hours\u201d:Only during SDR\u2019s non-working hours24\/7The advantages and disadvantages of chatbotsThe CIENCE business model is People-as-a-Service. Thus, it might seem that we should be opponents to chatbots from the fear of them talking away our bread. However, we\u2019re still very far away from The Matrix reality (unless we\u2019re already in Matrix and just don\u2019t know it!). No AI has passed Turing\u2019s test yet. Until we provide a similar growth experience to machines along with the ability to feel, those who fear robapocalypses can chill out.On the other hand, the automation of business processes that comes with the introduction of certain software enables us to free our human mind for more creative tasks that no AI can yet solve.In this light, chatbots provide amazing opportunities for B2B lead generation in particular and for any company in general.The advantages of chatbots: TimeThis is probably the most important advantage of bots. We create machines and automation not to work less but to work more efficiently. And chatbots kill two birds with one precise shot (obviously if you create content and program it correctly):Response timeWhen I\u2019m buying products or services online for my own needs (B2C), I seldom ask questions to salespeople unless I can\u2019t find the necessary information. In this case, I expect to get a response within 30 seconds (or less if I\u2019m honest). For some people, the time they\u2019re willing to wait for the answer is non-existent.Similarly, in B2B, buyers ask questions to sales and expect an immediate response. One could argue that B2B buyers are trained in a B2C world and bring those expectations forward everywhere they go.On the flip side, your salespeople, even SDRs, can\u2019t be attached to your chat 24\/7\/365. They need to eat, to sleep, to do their daily chores, to bond, to have some time enjoying their hobbies or otherwise engage with other clients, etc.\u00a0At CIENCE, we have around 260 SDRs. Some of them are bookworms, some are amateur musicians, and artists, many enjoy workouts, while others love competitive gaming. We have one person who\u2019s into origami and leaves tender paper miracles in hidden places in the office. They are bright personalities that are determined to do their job at the best of their capabilities. But they also need a work-life balance.\u00a0\u00a0Meanwhile, your decision-makers can write to you at any time of day or night. Taken into account that the USA has 4 primary time zones (not including Alaska, Hawaii, and some other territories), you can receive an inquiry in a chat window at any time. And we do.\u00a0\u00a0When a CEO in LA clicks on a tiny message icon on your website in order to ask questions she or he considers important to make the next move in their buying journey, your SDR anywhere else in the world is enjoying her\/his free time in a local pub or in case of some early birds is simply sleeping.\u00a0Don\u2019t make your prospect wait. Many of them use their free time (evening, to be precise or early in the morning) to look for opportunities for improving their work. They\u2019re looking for your product and your service. Be the one who serves. Don\u2019t put obstacles in their way \u2013 pave that road with yellow bricks to your Emerald City instead!The conversation duration.This is the case when quantity transforms into quality.There are several questions that most of your prospects\/site visitors would ask. Similar to many sales organizations, all SDRs in CIENCE have a \u201ccanned responses\u201d file. Despite having all the answers to FAQs ready, it takes some time to copypaste the necessary information.By the time the prospect gets to a human being, she\/he has already received answers on their most urgent questions. Now, you\u2019ve built the grounds for a more in-depth conversation. While its duration will be shorter, the quality of engagement will be much better.Furthermore, several questions will help you filter out the website visitors who don\u2019t fit your ICP (by title, industry, company type or problem they\u2019re experiencing). Some of the conversations between your SDRs and prospects won\u2019t happen, that\u2019s true. But those that happen will be of higher quality (namely, they will be better converting). ControlWhen a decision-maker starts a conversation with an SDR, it\u2019s hard for the latter to guide and ask prospecting questions. Similarly, it\u2019s hard to avoid certain inquiries that your sales team usually answers in the later stages of the purchasing funnel for certain reasons.Example: Company A designs and rebuilds interiors for offices. They receive an inquiry for their prices. However, the cost of their work heavily depends on several factors, including office location, size, desired style, the statement of the building, etc. Before speaking about the price they want to find out more about the potential buyer.They lost several leads when an SDR refused to tell prospects the price and offered to set up an appointment instead. He attempted to ask about the needs and pain points of the prospects but was interrupted several times.\u00a0Eventually, the company programmed the bot to ask prospecting questions (avoiding price) and to provide the respective answers that demonstrated their expertise and professional level. When prospects got to the human, they had a positive impression of the company and perceived the opaque answer about the price more easily. Bots, at least in 2019, can sometimes get away with more than humans when it comes to the delicate dance of top-of-the-funnel positioning.\u00a0 Giving an option for those who really hate talking to salesRecently I had a horrible experience at a pet shop. I was in a hurry and wanted to buy some food for my cat. It was an important day. When I came in, there was a shop\u2019s saleswoman and a door-to-door salesman.\u00a0The latter was trying to sell a screen protector for a mobile phone. He was over-persistent despite the fact that the woman told him several times that she\u2019d already tried this type of glass and it cracked. He didn\u2019t care that I was waiting. Horribly, he never cared for the fellow salesperson as he was interrupting her from doing her job \u2013 which was selling me some cat food.Working in B2B lead gen company, having had numerous conversations with our VP of Sales Michael Maynes, who regularly preaches that selling should be an education \u2014 not pushy \u2014 I was furious, to say the least. It was a horrible example of sales malpractice.I suppose, we all have such unpleasant experiences with salespeople. Too pushy, too salesy, too annoying. It\u2019s just how Miley Cyrus put it in her recent hit:\u00a0So, back up, back up, back up, back up, boy, ooh. Don\u2019t mess with my freedom.What\u2019s different is how we emotionally respond to these experiences. Some people are overwhelmed and prefer a more digital buyer journey than others.Why not respect their wish and give them a more psychologically secure environment where they interact with seemingly obedient robots rather than predictably pushy human beings? Improving the communication with your website visitorIn this article, Hubspot describes their experiment with a chatbot. They started it because they received numerous inquiries from their existing customers who wanted to get (technical) support with the CRM in the chat window.Needless to say, sales reps who received these messages were neither qualified nor incentivized to fix the customers\u2019 issues (as they were more preoccupied with creating new clients).First, Hubspot added an option in the chat window that offered support. Later they also added lead generation questions. As a result, their sales began getting fewer conversations, while the number of meetings increased compared to the \u201cpre-bot\u201d era.Not all websites will need a \u201csupport\u201d option in their chatbot windows. For example, at CIENCE we have an Account Management approach so our customers address all customer issues to Customer Success Managers and\/or SDRs assigned to their accounts.\u00a0That is why, for us, it would be more logical to provide Persona-based questions, e.g., for a CEO: \u201cHow can CIENCE help improve the ROI of my business growth?\u201d, or for Head of Sales: \u201cHow can CIENCE help my people with getting more qualified leads?\u201d, or for Head of Marketing: \u201cHow can CIENCE help me build email marketing strategy from scratch?\u201dSome companies have a special account-protected website section (for clients only \u2013 with a \u2018Contact Support\u2019 button). They thus have fewer support inquiries in a window made for lead gen purposes. However, such companies might offer different types of products\/services for different types of clients. In this case, it would be nice to create a separate educational journey for each type.So the basic idea is not to bluntly add a \u201csupport\u201d question, but to think of how your chatbot can:\u00a0Make your chat conversations more efficient.Improve the website experience for each visitor by sorting their inquiries.\u00a0 No developers neededChatbots are on the rise. There are plenty of tools out there that sell a ready-made chatbot. As a result, you don\u2019t need to hire a pricey developer. All you need is to buy a tool, fill in the content and provide an algorithm (if \u2026 then \u2026). Great chatbot software options abound on 3rd party review sites like G2, TrustRadius, and Gartner. Beyond InboundAt CIENCE, we offer our clients a landing page option for all email campaigns as part of our agency services. When a prospect wants to know more about a company and clicks on the link in the text or signature of our email campaigns, she\/he gets to a special page with a chat window and\/or a calendar form that enables those prospects to set an appointment right on site.Such landing pages are very efficient, especially when you have a custom-built campaign (e.g., dedicated to some event). We program chatbots to answer key questions of prospects during non-business hours. For some projects, such bots work 24\/7\/365. This gives a great boost to the campaign.\u00a0Another way to augment your outbound prospecting activities is to use email chatbots.\u00a0 Chatbots don\u2019t have bad daysAnd we envy them for this reason. Emotional letdowns are part of human life. It\u2019s ok to be sad, angry, or devastated at times. Alas, when your job is to communicate with people, it can affect your work directly.Disadvantages of chatbotsDesigning content is the hardest part.Social Media Chatbots are subject to rules that might change in the future out of your control.It\u2019s not a human and it can\u2019t replace human-to-human interactions.You can\u2019t program all the inquiries your potential customers might have, so eventually you will have to redirect them to real people.Programming your chatbotWhile the word \u2018programming\u2019 might be somewhat misleading when applied to chatbots (because it is associated with writing computer code), I prefer it to all other words because you create a \u2018program\u2019 for your chatbot users. You shape their journey if you like.Tips on how to program your chatbot: Apply FUF principleFUF stands for Friendly-Useful-Fun. I used this abbreviation for easier recall. It is based on the research by Petter Brandtzaeg and Asbj\u00f8rn F\u00f8lstad. In 2017, they published the results of their study: \u201cWhy people use chatbots.\u201d Here\u2019s what they found:\u201cThe vast majority of participants (68%) reported productivity to be the main reason for using chatbots. These participants highlighted the ease, speed, and convenience of using chatbots. Also, they noted that chatbots provide assistance and access to information.\u201d\u00a0Screenshot from the paper\u00a0Why people use chatbotsOf 146 respondents, 94 were females and 52 males with a median age of 30. They reported using chatbots of Facebook, Skype, Kik, Viber, Slack, and Telegram.As you can see from the picture above, around 19% of respondents used chatbots for entertainment, while 12% for social interactions.Summing up, a good chatbot should resemble humans, be fun, and useful.This gives us a picture of how to program our bots. Above all they should accomplish at least a few jobs well.\u00a0 Laconic is iconicFirst, people don\u2019t use chats for long conversations (this is the province of phone-calling). Second, the chat window is small thus reading and scrolling a long text won\u2019t be a pleasant user experience.Here\u2019s an example:A screenshot of a chatbotI received 4 messages within 2-3 seconds. Humans don\u2019t type that fast and as a rule, we have time to read and consider the message that another person has just sent us. In the above case, I hadn\u2019t finished the first message when it disappeared from the screed and was replaced by the next one.\u00a0I had to scroll up and try to tune in again. I have a small laptop, no mouse, and scrolling isn\u2019t actually my favorite activity. What can be done here is adding a button between messages 2 and 3. Something like: \u201cGo on, machine, you\u2019re on fire!\u201dWhat I really like about this particular chatbot is that they know that I work for CIENCE! This means they\u2019re qualifying me right now. Great job! Speak their language. While this should be applied to any content you create it\u2019s even more important for tiny chatbots messages. Think of the key phrases that \u2018trigger\u2019 your customers. When considering the ways to shorten your message (see tip 1) we suggest making those phrases the core of your text and never removing them. Jack of All Trades. In the above-mentioned Hubspot Experiment, the chatbot was designed to serve different audiences that come to your website for different reasons. In this case, we suggest giving several possible routes based on Buyer Personas and ICPs and\/or products\/services. The master of none. Your chatbot serves a particular purpose although some might argue that the only reason we made them is that we could (just like Halloway said to a wayward Android David in Ridley Scott\u2019s \u2018Prometheus\u2019… an underestimated movie about the limitless desire of human beings to know more even at the cost of their lives).\u00a0Your bot is a gatekeeper that answers the questions, redirects inquiries unrelated to sales, and keeps users engaged and entertained. So if you make too many options or provide too much information, people will find this an overwhelming experience. A chatbot is an algorithm that\u2019s like a tree with multiple branches.\u00a0It\u2019s good to build each branch and write content for it separately. You might need to visualize this tree, for example, to draw it on a whiteboard. Spreadsheets are also useful.\u00a0It\u2019s also generally a good idea, once you\u2019ve programmed your chatbot, to read aloud the experience in a role-play. This gives an immediate read on the suitability of the experience you\u2019ve designed.More content tips5 non-standard lines for a chatbot to call a human being:\u201cI have an assistant from the non-digital world. I can connect you two.\u201d\u00a0\u201cIf you take the red pill, you\u2019ll leave the matrix and meet our prophet\u201d\u00a0\u201cYou\u2019re tired of robots, aren\u2019t you? Wanna talk to someone real?\u201d\u201cI have my limits when it comes to answers. Are you ready to meet someone who can tell you more?\u201d\u201cConnect me with someone who has a beating heart\u201d5 non-standard lines for a chatbot to book a meeting:\u201cI like you so much! Let\u2019s meet in the flesh. I\u2019ll be in Jack Sullivan\u2019s body, our sales manager\u201d\u201cIf I book a meeting with you now, I\u2019ll get 0.003 bitcoins on my virtual account. Do you agree?\u201d\u201cI know a person who can definitely help you solve this problem. You can talk to Jane via Zoom, at 10 PM PST, this Thursday. Will that do?\u00a0\u201cI need to go feed my electric sheep. If it\u2019s ok, can I quickly set an appointment with our sales Dan for you?\u201d\u201cHey! I\u2019ve just told Jill about you! She wants to meet you a lot. What if I connect you two via Skype?\u201d10 Chatbot Statistics: The number of monthly active users of messaging apps is more than 5 billion.\u00a0(Hubspot, 2017) Facebook\u2019s bot platform has already been used to create 300,000 chatbots.\u00a0(venturebeat.com, 2018) The top industries which are already profiting from chatbots include Real Estate, Travel, Education, Healthcare and Finance.\u00a0(chatbotslife.com, 2019) Among all the B2B companies, only 0.5% was using chatbots in 2018.\u00a0(Nerdydata, 2018)\u00a0 58% of companies using chatbots technology are focused on B2B.\u00a0(Chatbot magazine, 2019) 41% of people that start online chats with businesses are executives (The State of Chatbots Report, 2018). The average time it takes a company to respond to a message is 10 hours on messaging platforms (Oracle, 2016). 64% of internet users say 24-hour service is the best chatbot feature (The State of Chatbots Report, 2018). 80% of businesses are expected to have some sort of chatbot automation by 2020 (Outgrow, 2018). 71.2% of companies using chatbots have less than 50 employees (Landbot.io) Between 2016 and 2021, we expect the chatbot marketing to grow at a compound rate of 35.2%. (Marketsandmarkets, 2017)SummaryChatbots can help any company increase the quality of engagement with existing customers and potential buyers that visit your website, page on social networks, or interact with you via email or messengers. To achieve success, you don\u2019t need to hire a developer as there are many companies that sell ready-made bots.You need a profound understanding of your users and customers (what they do on your website and what they want to learn from you). A talented copywriter is your key to success.