When discussing the introduction of a sales-focused webchat 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 webchat 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-focused chat is inherently different than when offering B2B professional services. The chat sales 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-focused chat must be clearly defined.
While planning the strategy for sales-focused webchat, 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 webchat 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-focused webchat 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-focused webchat, the outcome of the discussions should be measured: sales and leads. In the case of a webchat, 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 webchat 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 webchat is not useful for anyone if it is left unattended. When planning the allocation of resources for the webchat, 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 the webchat has no fixed service hours, the customers quickly learn of its existence and know to look for it. A sales-focused webchat 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 a sales-focused webchat are amazing [Source: @giosgCom] Click to Tweet
The most important thing is to commit to the webchat. An occasionally used webchat provides meagre results at best. Fortunately, there are numerous companies offering skilled outsourced personnel for webchat if in-house resources are not enough. If a little is invested in a webchat, a little can also be expected as a result. With committed, systematic and managed use, the results achieved with a sales-focused webchat 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 webchat, 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 webchat 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 webchat 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).
Could we help take your company's sales team online? Your customers are already there.
At giosg.com, we have experience of helping hundreds of businesses get their sales persons online. We have encouraged to take car dealers, B2B sales representatives, real estate agents, and salespersons of many other industries online. We, too, have learned a lot along the way! I firmly believe that our experience can be useful for your company when contemplating around these themes.