Personalizing Your Internet Business
Global internet sales reached 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars in 2017, and they are projected to reach 4.48 trillion by 2021. All of this indicates that e-commerce is thriving and changing the way your company does business. One of the biggest issues in e-commerce is how to personally engage the customer, giving them an individualized experience in the same way a brick-and-mortar business does. Online contact forms have their limits and don't compare to an in-person experience. In contrast, live chat allows you to instantly engage with customers, improving the qualification process and conversions. A recent Revenue Summit 2018 talk by Jeffrey Serlin, Head of Global Sales at Intercom, addressed these very issues.
Live Chat Funnel vs. Traditional Sales Funnel
As Serlin noted, companies spend significant amounts of money raising awareness and drawing people to their websites, but once potential customers land, companies often fail to optimize the sales process. Prospects experience a delay between submitting a form and receiving direct contact from the company. The longer the delay, the lower the closing rate becomes. Live chat allows your company to almost instantly connect with the customer, improving the conversion rate by 20 percent or more.
The traditional sales funnel of lead, qualified lead, marketing qualified lead, sales accepted lead, sales qualified lead and customer is similar to the live chat funnel with a few significant differences. Live chat allows you to streamline the process and increase your closing rate in fewer steps, and more quickly. You can sometimes cut the time between initial contact and sale by days if not weeks.
Most importantly, the live chat funnel gives you two options that the traditional model does not. First, you can "loop in" another member of the sales team in real time, as long as the customer agrees. This benefit enhances qualification even further because the client can receive all necessary data in one conversation.
Depending on your business model, live chat may allow you to complete the sales funnel in one session, since you and the customer get all the information you need to close the deal, and you've already developed a level of trust.
The live chat funnel also lets you close out prospects more quickly, since these prospects tend to offer more information during your chat session than they would through other online contact methods. You may be able to disqualify them after just a sentence or two.
Live Chat Methods
Effective live chat requires that you show your personality and not sound like a chatbot. It’s your first impression, so try to incorporate all the warmth and personality that you would in an email or phone call. Perfunctory questions and answers won't do.
You should introduce yourself and answer the customer's initial questions. Then you have earned the right to ask a few questions of your own, although they should be open-ended inquires that require thoughtful answers. At this point, you may be able to jump ahead in the funnel or you may simply follow the traditional sales steps. The customer decides how far to push the sale forward. You should always let the conversation end naturally while trying to nail down next steps, such as an email, follow-up call, etc. By establishing this early relationship, you are creating good will while moving toward that increased conversion rate.
Sales development representatives need to learn how to use live chat effectively. It allows them to handle leads much more quickly, and it gives them more SQLs and closed deals. Of course, they must be trained to correctly run a live chat. They need be well-versed in your product or service, since they no longer have that delay between the customer inquiry and their answer, which allowed them to dive deep into research. Customers will expect them to have the answers. SDRs will also need the help of scripts and coaching to properly engage with the customer.
Management loves the live chat funnel because it offers so many benefits. It increases sales without increasing spending, and it speeds up the entire process, improving the company's bottom line and individual paychecks. But they have to change their approach as well. For instance, they may need to develop another SLA for their live chat sales because the process is fast-tracked. They will also have to develop training methods and learn to live chat themselves in order to deliver the necessary coaching to their sales reps. Members of management benefit from live chat because it allows them to have better customer conversations that can lead to improved products and services.
Live chat beats online forms in almost every way. It offers a personalized experience that gives customers a warmer, more human experience, and it lets customers more fully express themselves and explain their needs. Company representatives benefit by getting information more quickly so they can begin the qualifying process. Conversion rates improve, customers feel valued, and sales rep capacity increases. Best of all, your company doesn't increase its spending to get these results. If possible, live chat should be a part of your company's online presence.