When discussing the introduction of a sales chat with our customers, the conversations revolve around five themes: sales strategy, goals, metrics, resources, and post-chat processes. I try to open these topics for discussion and help to form a general understanding of the subject. Partly, I also try to nudge companies already utilising a live chat to reflect their activities from a new perspective.
1. Planning the Sales Strategy
A sales strategy is significantly affected by the nature of the products and services sold through the company website. In an online store, the role of a sales chat is inherently different than when offering B2B professional services. The chat agent’s task may be collecting sales leads from websites, closing the deal in the online store, or something in between. The wanted results from the sales chat must be clearly defined.
While planning the strategy for sales chat, the company must decide what kind of visitor they want to reach, and at what stage of the buying process the visitor is contacted.
While planning the sales strategy for chat sales, the company must decide what kind of visitor they want to reach, and at what stage of the buying process the visitor is contacted. A proactive chat activating immediately on visitor’s arrival on the website may be the visitor’s first contact with the company. In this case, the visitor may not be familiar at all with the business’s offering, and this has to be taken into account in planning. On the other hand, the chat can be activated only for visitors that are already familiar with the company, for example, the visits are frequent, or the visitor has reached the website via email marketing. Customers at different stages of the buying process must be approached in different ways.
2. Setting Goals
Goals are very strongly linked to the sales strategy and relevant industry. In an online store, the goal may be to improve the conversion rate. In car sales, a sales-focused live chat is used to book test drives while real estate agents want instructions. Especially if the purchase subject is expensive and complex, the goal of a single chat conversation may be to guide the customer to the next step of the buying process. Thus, the chat sales agent removes obstacles from the purchase process, one by one.
Whether the goal is to collect contact details or improve the conversion rate, it must be set realistically. Objectives and expectations must be set so that the number of visitors on the website, the webchat service hours and available agents as well as the nature of the products/services sold are taken into consideration. The introduction of a sales chat also involves a lot of learning as agents learn how to utilise the new sales tool and it may take some time for the customers to find the new communication channel.
3. Selecting Right Metrics
Conventional wisdom “you get what you measure” also applies to chat sales. The number of chat conversations is not the best metric of success. With sales chat, the outcome of the discussions should be measured: sales and leads. In the case of a live chat, the online store’s conversion and the incoming revenue are good indicators. The average purchase with and without a chat conversation is also a good figure to monitor.
When collecting sales leads their quality can also be assessed in addition to the accumulated amount. What is the closing percentage of leads obtained using the webchat and how it compares to sales leads from elsewhere (e.g. contact forms)? How about the length of the sales process? Are sales closed quicker, if live chat is part of the sales process? Whatever the goals may be, actively monitoring and measuring activities helps to develop the salespersons’ performance and webchat operations.
4. Allocating Resources
A sales chat is not useful for anyone if it is left unattended. When planning the allocation of resources for live chat, it must be taken into account that the channel must be active when there are customers on the website (in B2C business this usually means evenings). Resources must be adequate to ensure that visitors receive a response immediately. Even if your live chat has no fixed service hours, the customers quickly learn of its existence and know to look for it. A sales chat can be tested, for example, with a small dedicated team of volunteer salespersons or by cycling the chat shift within a sales team.
With committed, systematic and managed use, the results achieved with sales chat are amazing.
The most important thing is to commit to the live chat. An occasionally used live chat provides meagre results at best. Fortunately, there are numerous companies offering skilled outsourced personnel for live chat if in-house resources are not available. If a little is invested in a sales chat, a little can also be expected as a result. With committed, systematic and managed use, the results achieved with sales chat are amazing.
5. Creating Post-Chat Processes
In this last theme, we jump on to think about what happens after a chat conversation. The base quickly drains away from a sales-focused live chat, if the potential customers are not assisted across the finish line. If a sale is not concluded during a conversation, it must be clear to the visitor what will happen next and who does is (visitor or agent). Also within the company, it must be clear who (and using which channel) will continue the handling of the chat-generated sales lead. The need of a chatting customer is often here and now, no longer in a moment. Unless otherwise agreed with the customer, the salesperson should act on the sales lead immediately!
The need of a chatting customer is often here and now, no longer in a moment. Unless otherwise agreed with the customer, the salesperson should act on the sales lead immediately!
What if the customer makes the purchase during the chat conversation? This is a core assumption in most online stores. Even if the chat agent already completed their task, the return of the customer can be prepared for. What if the customer who returns to the online store through a retargeting campaign would be automatically directed to a sales agent and, respectively, customers following a link from order confirmation were the responsibility of customer service (assuming that challenges had arisen in the order).
What kind of questions do you have about sales chat? Let’s continue the discussion on Twitter or in a chat!
Note: This blog has been published September 17, 2015 in giosg.com blog and has since been edited for clarity. See the original here.