Boost Your Customer Relationships with Conversational Sales Sarah Chan Rejante April 25, 2023
Customers want to hear from you.
When you think about the typical customer journey, you rarely find a straight path from discovery to purchase.
Picture this real-life scenario: You're at the mall buying a T-shirt.
A straight path would have you pick up a random shirt off the rack and take it to the checkout—but that's not usually how it happens.
Once you find a shirt you like, you check the size, price, and fit before making a decision.
They might not have your size in stock. Or maybe the price is higher than you expected. The shirt might check all the right boxes for you, but there's a huge lineup at the checkout counter and you don't want to wait in it.
These are all common problems customers might face, but not all of them will react in the same way.
That's where you come in.
It takes a great salesperson to diagnose each customer's unique needs and find the perfect solution for them.
You and your sales team know your product better than any celebrity, spokesperson, or influencer. The best people to advocate for your brand are the ones who helped build it.
Instead of redirecting your potential customers to your frequently asked questions page or having them fill out an inquiry form, offer them a direct line of communication to the people who have the answers they’re looking for.
You’re guaranteed to build stronger relationships, gain higher customer satisfaction, and close more deals this way.
That’s why we highly recommend including conversational sales in your broader client acquisition and online sales strategies.
If you’re ready to build real, human-to-human connections, improve your ROI, strengthen your customer retention, and get more qualified leads, keep reading below to learn how you could master conversational sales.
What is "conversational sales"?
Conversational sales is a type of inbound selling approach, driven by direct, real-time connections between sales reps and potential customers.
This method alleviates common friction points, such as lead capture forms, and focuses on open dialogue using online tools, such as chatbots, live chat, or in-app video chat.
Conversational sales offers customers a higher sense of transparency, more control over the interaction, and a more personalized experience. They can also get the answers they are looking for faster than if they were to fill out contact forms.
Sales reps also have much to gain from conversational selling, as they have more opportunities to gain valuable information from their customer, tailor their approach to the customer's needs, and potentially speed up the buying process.
What is the difference between "conversational sales" and "conversational marketing"?
Conversational marketing follows a similar process, allowing for two-way communication between marketing teams and buyers.
This occurs earlier in the customer journey, and typically involves marketing teams engaging potential leads in real time using online tools, and building meaningful relationships that convert into leads.
The conversational marketing process allows marketers to better screen visitors to their websites and social media, and to bring in more qualified leads.
This process gives marketers a great opportunity to gather helpful information about their leads, which they can share with their sales team if the leads convert.
Marketing teams may also use conversational marketing to maintain relationships with existing customers.
How is conversational sales better than other selling methods?
Traditional sales methods are littered with pain points that have become increasingly more evident as consumers continue to shift towards a preference for personalization, and attention spans continue to shrink.
That's why we recommend investing in a conversational sales solution. Conversational sales bridges the gap between potential buyers and sales teams in a more direct way, eliminating the majority of the common friction points in a traditional sales process.
Conversational sales allows your sales teams to approach their customer interactions in a more nimble, flexible, and adaptable way.
Rather than starting your relationship with an empty form or a cold email, conversational sales allows you to skip the formalities and get straight to the point—what does your customer want, and how can your company give it to them?
If someone is visiting your website, they are there with a purpose. They want to talk to you. It's your job to make that connection happen.
Conversational sales allows you to make every second count, start more meaningful conversations, and provide a great customer experience.
How does conversational sales help you build a solid customer base?
The customer retention formula is simple.
Great customer service plus even better products equals returning customers!
Conversational sales helps sales teams have more effective, meaningful conversations with their customers, which can, in turn, deepen their bond with your business.
When customers think back to their experience with your business, they won't just remember the great product you provided. They'll recall the great customer experience they had and the wonderful salesperson they dealt with.
Then, when a friend asks them about your brand, this is exactly what they'll share, and these word-of-mouth interactions will also lead to more conversions.
A strong conversational sales process also involves high-level customer vetting to bring you the most qualified leads. Focusing your sales efforts on the right people increases your likelihood of success.
Giving your all to these select people means you can more consistently provide a great buying experience to your customers. These are the buyers who are most likely going to come back for more.
Which demographics prefer conversational sales to less personal methods?
It's difficult to determine which demographics have a higher affinity toward conversational sales. There are conflicting studies that have shown various levels of preference for—and differing attitudes toward—personalization.
While many of these results contradict each other, one fact rings true—the majority of consumers, regardless of their demographic, prefer human interaction.
Customers love to have the option of an easy transition from chatbot to live agent. Older generations, in particular, benefit from live agent options, because they highly value face-to-face conversations and great customer service.
Regardless of the demographic, your customers will almost always prefer conversational sales over less personal sales methods.
If you'd like to learn more about personalization in conversational marketing and conversational sales, check out this great TED Talk on personalized marketing by Nicole Martin:
Which industries can benefit most from conversational sales methods?
Industries that provide a service, high-ticket items, or complex products will be most likely to reap the benefits of conversational sales.
Often, customers of these industries require additional explanation and guidance during the buying process, so starting the conversation as early as possible will help save your customer time, and give them the answers they're looking for more quickly.
Customers of these industries tend to trust in and rely on the expertise of the sales team. A sales team is perceived to be knowledgeable and have great insight into the product and specialized industry they work in.
Conversational sales methods provide an easier way for your sales team to share their expertise with customers quickly, and on their terms.
The top 10 reasons to use conversational sales to boost your customer relationships
1. Conversational sales is the most authentic method of remote selling
Online sales have a one-dimensional feel to them. They lack the depth that human interaction brings to the sales process.
Whether you're live chatting, voice calling, or video calling, conversational sales provides customers with an opportunity to engage with another human the way they would in an in-person store.
This adds a layer of authenticity to the online sales process, and makes the interaction far more memorable.
The popularity of product review websites is a great example of why authenticity is proven to be important to consumers, and a driving factor in a buyer's final purchase decision.
Over the years, consumers have shifted their focus away from celebrity and influencer endorsements. As people discovered the lack of authenticity that comes with being paid to love a product, they embraced the rawness of peer review websites, where they could gather every perspective about a product before buying it.
While consumers are still heavily aware that salespeople are being paid to talk about their products, there are ways to provide a sense of authenticity in sales conversations.
First, always offer your customer the pros and cons of your product. Giving your customers all the facts allows them to make informed decisions.
Second, in most situations, you can skip the formalities and level with your customer. A friendlier tone, a little small talk, and a smile can go a long way to make your customer feel comfortable. Don't go overboard, however—you should still maintain a level of professionalism, despite your more casual conversational approach.
Finally, ask your customers to share their stories. Customers want their voices to be heard, and your conversation will feel more real if they have a chance to provide their own input, as well. Simply step back and be a great listener.
2. Conversational sales is more transparent than other methods of selling
You talk big on your website and social media, but does your product really live up to the hype?
That's what your customers really want to know, and they'd probably ask if given a chance.
Conversational marketing and sales give customers a platform where they can ask all the right questions about your product and find out the good, the bad, and the ugly.
These one-on-one interactions will give your sales reps a chance to be honest and open about their experience with the product, while building trust with the customer.
3. Conversational sales improves customer experience
Contact forms are so last decade.
They are notorious for prompting very slow responses and putting the onus on the customer to engage companies, rather than the other way around. They also lack the personality, pleasantries, and relatability of a live agent.
This is a pain point that's needed to be addressed for years, and at last, companies are starting to take notice. There has been a major shift amongst businesses from the use of contact forms to live chat tools and chatbots.
Companies know that people don't have time to wait for a response. They want answers now.
Conversational sales takes the frustration and waiting out of the customer experience, and replaces it with personalization, speed, and efficiency. Sales reps can communicate with customers directly, upon request, and in real time.
The customer is also in control of the interaction, and can easily hit 'X' at any time. Once the customer starts a conversation with a sales rep, they are in the driver's seat, and the sales process will start and end on their terms.
4. Conversational sales shortens the customer journey and adds more value for the customer
Going through the buying journey with a great sales rep is like navigating the Amazon with an expert guide.
Just like any experienced guide, sales reps come equipped with insider knowledge that may not be found on the website. They also know the product inside out, so they can easily explain any of its features to a potential buyer.
This eliminates many of the friction points in the buying experience, such as long wait times for responses to contact forms, possible misunderstandings, or loss of focus on the end goal.
Sales reps may also be able to offer additional value in the form of product demos, key information directly related to the customers' needs, discounts and promotions, or guidance and training after the purchase has been completed.
5. Conversational sales helps you increase customer engagement
Improving your customer engagement is like nurturing a plant.
A newly-planted seed isn't going to sprout right away. You need to give it time to grow.
In the case of conversational sales, the seed is a live chat tool.
Your customers might not use it right away, but if you're patient, and let them come to you on their own terms, you'll eventually see your customer engagement rate blossom.
One of the best live chat tools you can use is Glass.io. Glass is the only video chat app on the market that gives you real-time visibility of your customer's screen.
When your customer shows buying intent, you can trigger a notification to start a conversation through live chat, voice call, or video call.
Image: Screen shot of an incoming Glass.io video call
Your customer can also choose to engage with you by clicking the widget when they are ready to take the next step.
Learn more about Glass in this helpful introduction post.
You may also want to utilize a chatbot to fulfill the more repetitive tasks in your sales processes, such as booking appointments or answering basic questions. Customers looking for quick answers and immediate responses will love the efficiency of a great automated bot.
6. Conversational sales gets you more customer data in a shorter amount of time
Contact forms limit the amount of information you can collect from a customer.
Live conversations are a much more productive way to gather consumer data, because you're able to ask questions and dig deeper.
This rings especially true if you're able to have a face-to-face conversation. There's something about adding the human touch that encourages people to open up and connect.
Remember to take notes. These discussions can be used to inform your future interactions with your customer.
The conversational sales approach also includes an opportunity to gain customer feedback at the end of your interaction.
If you've ever been prompted to leave a detailed review for an app you've used, or been asked to fill out an online sales survey, you've probably felt inclined to ignore the popup and go about your day.
Customers often feel less compelled to complete feedback survey forms due to their impersonal and tedious nature.
Conversational sales relies more on rapport to encourage customers to share their thoughts about their experiences. You can gain much more meaningful insights about their buying experience from these conversations.
7. Conversational sales helps you build stronger, more meaningful customer relationships
The modern customer wants to interact with you on their terms.
That means the barrage of outreach emails you're sending could be doing more harm than good to your relationship with your customer.
Giving your website visitors and social media audience the power to choose whether to engage with you starts your relationship off on the right foot.
The conversational sales approach also helps you relate to—and connect with—your customer, so you can better understand their needs.
These meaningful conversations will allow you to maintain a longer-lasting relationship with your customer.
8. Conversational sales makes your sales process more efficient
From the moment your customer enters your website or social media platform, your conversational sales tactics can make their experience and your sales process more efficient.
Marketing chatbots are a great tool for this, because you can automate many repetitive elements of the sales process while still offering a fast, real-time customer service experience.
Automated bots can help answer basic questions, gather intent data, and even complete some straightforward sales conversations. If the customer requires high-level assistance with their inquiry, the chatbot can then connect them with a human.
If you're on the fence about whether to use a chatbot or a live chat app on your website, check out our article, Marketing Bots vs. In-App Video Chat: Which to Choose?
Conversational sales also helps you avoid the typical pain points of a traditional sales process.
Conversations that happen in real-time eliminate the waiting period for responses from both the customer and sales agent, allowing you to solve problems and get answers faster.
9. Conversational sales can grow your market share
Responsive brands that communicate openly and often with their customers have a higher chance of capturing a larger market share.
According to a 2022 study by McKinsey, 75% of respondents engaging in one-on-one personalization as part of their marketing and sales strategy saw an increase in market share, while only 47% saw a similar increase when using less direct personalization methods.
The modern customer expects personalization, and they can tell when you aren't giving it your all.
A strong conversational sales strategy and appropriate use of automated bots to determine your highest-value prospects will help you focus your sales efforts on direct, one-on-one personalization for your customers.
Over time, you will be able to build a stronger reputation, based on your ability to provide a great customer experience, which could lead to a significant boost in your market share.
10. Conversational sales boosts conversions
Most people will only scroll your website for a few seconds before moving on. That means you need to be able to capture their attention almost instantly when they arrive on your page.
Implementing a live chat option on your website is a great way to keep them around. That welcoming message that pops up upon their arrival serves as a reminder that you're there when they need you.
And when they're ready to talk, you or your chatbot can qualify them in real-time to determine whether your product is the right fit. This will allow you to focus your sales efforts on the most qualified prospects, saving both you and your customers time.
It also gives you an immediate opportunity to show your prospects why your product is best suited for their needs. Your leads are more likely to convert if they anticipate a great customer experience, and have a strong understanding of how your product can benefit them.
Best practices for conversational sales
If you're thinking about how conversational sales and conversational marketing can fit into your marketing and sales plan, we have some great tips and best practices that will help you enjoy the benefits of these strategies.
Consider the following as you plan your conversational sales strategy:
Be honest and transparent with your customers
People can tell when you're pushing an agenda. Rather than reading off of a script and relying on sales jargon to get your point across, focus on having an open conversation that flows according to the needs of your customer.
Place your conversational sales tools where your customers are
You are more likely to reach high-intent customers by placing your chatbot or other conversational sales tools on highly trafficked pages. Leverage your existing customer data to target your tools effectively.
Plan your chatbot answers according to a natural conversation flow
When you're planning the bot's conversation flow, think to yourself, "What would I say in this situation?" Customers are less likely to use a chatbot that takes them down a path of unnecessary questions.
Your chatbot should pop up with a friendly greeting, and invite customers to utilize it if they have questions. Data from previous conversations should inform the interactions that follow.
The goal is to have a bot that feels human-like, so as to provide the most seamless transition between bot to sales agent possible.
Promote what you have to offer as early as possible
You don't need to wait until your customer reaches your sales team. If you have something great to offer, like a discount, promotion, or live demo, your chatbot can proactively introduce these options to your customer earlier in the sales process. If customers like what they see, they're more likely to stick around.
Don't forget to ask for feedback
Customer data is a crucial element of conversational sales. The best way to improve your strategy is to build upon your past customer experiences. At the end of every interaction, whether you believe you provided a great or poor customer experience, you should always ask for feedback. Knowing how you did is the best way to grow in the future.
Online sales processes require a different skill set from traditional sales. You have less control over the audiences you attract, attention spans are lower, and people want faster, more personalized responses.
Your customers don't want to go through days or weeks-long buying processes. They want the instant gratification of a real-time conversational sales solution.
That's why conversational sales and conversational marketing should always be a part of your marketing and sales strategy.
Conversational selling allows for a more tailored approach to the buying process, more efficient lead qualifying, and higher sales productivity.
You can rely on chatbots to answer basic questions and manage repetitive tasks, like booking appointments or connecting buyers with sales agents.
When your prospect is ready to move to the next step in the sales process, they can be transferred to a member of your team, who can engage them in a more meaningful sales conversation that adequately addresses their needs.
Are you ready to master conversational sales? Get out there and start having great conversations with your website visitors. We promise, your bottom line will thank you.
Sarah Chan Rejante is a digital marketer and social media coordinator based in Toronto, Canada. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from Humber College and is passionate about marketing and getting in front of customers in the right way.
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