An overview of conversational sales for the modern consumer; how conversational sales works, how it benefits brands and how to implement it as a strategy.
What is conversational sales?
Conversational sales is a dialogue-driven approach to online sales. This approach relies on engaging with the customer via online tools while avoiding friction points such as request forms. Like conversational marketing, conversational sales is an inbound methodology. It’s based on the principle of selling only to those customers who are ready to buy and using sales conversations to simply facilitate the questions or doubts of those who are not yet ready to make a purchase decision. This method has been proven to increase online conversion rates, improve customer experience and shorten the sales cycle.
What is the difference between conversational and traditional sales?
The main difference between the two methods is that conversational sales relies on two-way dialogue and does not rely on contact forms or stifled exchanges. In short, this method seeks to emulate the in-store experience of talking with a brand expert; questions are asked by both parties and the best product for the customer becomes apparent via the conversation.
Current online sales models rely on emitting information for the consumer to digest. In the event they have questions, they are generally forced to use a contact form, making the consumer wait on the sales team to contact them, or they are directed through an automated chatbot, which typically lacks the sophistication or knowledge required to meet the needs of the consumer.
Traditional sales methods are proving to be a costly and ineffective model for most brands. The problem with the traditional online sales model consists of two key parts. Firstly, shoppers expect that they will be able to complete sales processes entirely online at their convenience, and secondly, they expect that the process will be much more sophisticated.
Basic chatbots are limited for online sales
The modern-day customer is tech-savvy and tends to do research on multiple, 3rd party sources. This means that typically most questions they have will be about combining deals and features, or just generally quite specific to their needs. These complex, specific types of questions are problematic for standard automated chatbots.
Basic chatbots often fail to satisfy customers, as responses are either too generic or the customer is redirected to a form or generic FAQ page. Research suggests that consumers believe that chatbots are only capable of providing simple answers to quick questions about simple things like product features, availability, or booking appointments. This highlights the convenience element of what consumers expect from online buying experiences and the shortcomings of automated bots.
Contact forms are bad for online sales
Moments that inconvenience the consumer, referred to as friction points, deeply undermine the customer buying experience. Customers have high expectations when it comes to online buying. These expectations are partially due to advances in other areas of online commerce, such as Amazon’s purchase platform, Uber, or even food delivery services.
The result is that consumers expect to seamlessly have their need met, without having to switch communicational channels (i.e. call a number from a website) or worse, complete a contact form and wait for a reply. Consumers want to be able to contact the brand on their terms and through their chosen platform.
By filling in online contact forms, consumers are blocked when their interest is peaked. This poor customer experience seems to be true regardless of the form size; Even short online forms will only convert about 10-13% of all visits as the time difference between first contact and call-back or follow-up email is too long. This is more pronounced in younger consumers as 25 percent of millennials expect contact within ten minutes of submitting requests to sales or customer service.
For the modern-customer, time and convenience can even outweigh the product. Recent survey results demonstrated the importance of convenience in the online buying process. For example, 67% of participants stated they would consider avoiding a brand if they felt the buying process was too tedious. Also, 81% of respondents confirmed that convenience is a major factor when they are selecting a brand, with which 40% strongly agreed.
What tools are used for conversational sales?
Conversational sales is the name given to the general theory of making two-way dialogue the key element of your online sales strategy. The tools used can vary depending on the industry and type of decision consumers are making. Conversational sales does not exclude the above tools, but simply gets sales managers to recognize that these tools are limited in their application and outputs.
– Chatbots: Chatbots can be used to answer basic questions but should have the capacity to connect to a member of staff in the event that the query is too complex for the chatbot to answer. Chatbots can also be used to filter users by their questions to put them in touch with the correct department or product representative.
– Dynamic sales chat: Better when integrated with the chatbot, these should have agents ready to answer questions from interested and qualified leads in real-time. Chat systems should have the capacity to perform web-shares, video options and voice calls, either through a phone line or by using VoIP. These features help keep customers in conversations, via the method they feel most comfortable with.
– Automate simple requests: With a view to keeping the buying experience as smooth as possible, companies should strive to automate simple actions as much as possible. It is possible to reduce friction points by allowing customers to carry out these actions without having to change the medium they are using (i.e. call) or talk to sales agents. Many companies do this by automating the following tasks:
· Booking appointments in stores
· Price changes due to feature add-ons
· test drives
· Checking product availability
– Online sales engagement: Companies should seek to start a conversation with customers when they are browsing on their website and are showing an interest. This can be achieved through the live broadcasting of product demos straight from their website.