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8 Tips to Effectively Execute Conversational Sales in Your Business

Sales is changing. Millennials have the highest employment rate in the USA, with Gen Z not far behind. And these younger generations have very different feelings about traditional sales approaches than their parents and grandparents.

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For a start, younger generations hate phone calls. They consider cold calls inconsiderate and inconvenient, and if they answer a cold call at all, they’re unlikely to be receptive to the sales rep on the other end.

So, how should you engage up-and-coming prospects if you can’t call them?

The answer lies in conversational selling.

Conversational selling is a real-time text-based medium that gives all the momentum of a sales call with none of the inconvenience. Here, we’ll take you through what conversational selling is, how it benefits both your brand and your customers, and how you can build a winning conversational selling strategy.

What is conversational sales?

Conversational selling involves selling in real time over text-based chat tools, such as Facebook Messenger and webchat tools.

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Unlike asynchronous messaging tools like email, real-time chat tools mimic the flow and immediacy of conversation but without the pressure and commitment of a phone call, a video call, or a face-to-face meeting.

Chat apps are popular with consumers for their availability, transparency, and low commitment. You don’t usually have to wait in a queue for a chat as you might when phoning a brand, and there’s an appealing level of transparency to a chat.

For example, when filling in a contact form with an email address, you can’t be certain that your email won’t end up on a spam list. That’s not the case with immediate chats, which give the customer a layer of control that’s hard to assert with other forms of communication.

Your sales team can take advantage of this preference for chat and use conversational sales to reach out to potential customers. This approach can generate meaningful conversations that lead to high-value conversions and lasting customer loyalty.

Benefits of executing conversational sales in business

Let’s take a quick look at the biggest benefits of a conversational sales approach:

Increases customer engagement

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Getting enough engagement to build momentum for conversion is tricky for both B2C and B2B sales teams. And it’s getting harder as younger generations reject phone calls in favor of text-based channels.

Millennials are notorious for hating phone calls, and Gen Z frequently won’t even answer a ringing phone. So, phone calls to younger potential buyers may not work as well as they should.

At the same time, emails and text messages lack the immediacy of phone calls. While email has fantastic marketing potential, it’s harder for a sales rep to build that much-needed sales momentum via email or text.

Conversational sales provide much of the immediacy of phone calls without the pressure and commitment that younger generations hate. Rather than having to drop whatever they’re doing and find a quiet place to talk with your sales rep, people can respond to chat messages on the go.

The conversation happens in real time but without the time and energy commitments of a phone call. So, rather than ignoring your call or hanging up immediately, a conversational approach is more likely to engage your younger customers from the outset. Then, all your sales team has to do is hook and maintain their interest through to conversion.

What does this look like in practice? Let’s say you send a promotional email for a new collection of dog toys. If a customer has a question about whether the toys are suitable for puppies and the only way to contact you is via email, chances are they’ll be waiting hours, if not days, for a response. 

During this time, their enthusiasm will likely wane, and you’ll lose hope of engagement. But if you incorporate a link in that email that opens an online chat, that subscriber now has an immediate answer that keeps them engaged and could be the difference between securing a sale or not.

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Deepens understanding of customer needs

Prospecting in sales is much easier when you know what your customers need and want. The best conversational sales tools can deliver nuanced insights into potential customers during crucial sales processes.

For example, if a customer you’ve sent a prospecting email to clicks through to your website, comprehensive, integrated chat tools will automatically alert you, allowing you to quickly open a chat window to them and strike while the iron is hot.

Similarly, conversational AI can grab important data on potential buyers’ demographics, browsing behavior, etc., from across the internet and feed this to your sales reps before, during, and after each chat. This helps your reps tailor their sales efforts towards the customer’s specific needs, resulting in greater customer satisfaction and better customer experiences.

Improves sales conversion rates

Good chat tools will ensure that your reps engage with the most highly qualified leads at the right times while armed with the right information. It’s not only about using persuasive selling techniques. 

You can show as much as you can tell. For example, if you’re engaging with a lead on LinkedIn, you can share social proof of the service they’re interested in. You can send links to tutorials or knowledge hubs if you’re speaking over webchat.

Or, if you’re using SMS to convert a lead, you can create a sense of urgency by showing how many people bought a product they’re interested in over the last 24 hours. All of this gives you the potential to make your sales process both faster and more successful.

Combined with the high engagement rate of conversational communication channels, this naturally leads to higher conversion rates. Research by Glassix shows that websites using AI chatbots saw a 23% higher conversion rate compared to those that didn’t. And that’s only one conversational selling tool you could leverage.

But the benefits don’t stop at conversion. With a good conversational selling strategy, you can attract the best possible leads who will convert into deeply loyal customers with a high CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). 

Fosters long-term customer relationships

Pleasant interactions between customers and brands are the backbone of lasting, long-term customer relationships. The communication channel you use greatly impacts your customers’ experience during these interactions.

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Conversations over chat channels have a high customer satisfaction rate, much higher than email and phone channels. By adopting a conversational sales strategy, you can improve the experience your potential buyers have with your sales team. This leaves the customer with a great impression of your brand and a strong foundation for a future relationship.

Of course, to ensure you get that all-important customer retention, you need to nurture your customers. But starting through conversational selling is a great first step.

8 Tips to effectively execute conversational sales

How can you build and execute a successful conversational sales strategy? Here are eight of our best tips:

Pay attention to prospect cues, concerns, and preferences

The technology you use can make a big difference to how well your salespeople understand the needs of your prospects. Tech gives you a good head start here. The right tools will deliver a wealth of data for each prospect. 

But data can only do so much. Your reps must also pay close attention to your prospects’ cues to hit the right notes.

This can be harder with conversational sales than it is over the phone. With text-based communications, you can’t rely on tone of voice to intuit a prospect’s mood. Instead, growing frustration might be indicated by increasingly curt responses or capital letters.

So, to understand and fulfill the needs, concerns, and preferences of your prospects, it’s important to train your reps in all the different ways a textual conversation can drop cues and reveal clues about what your prospects are thinking and how they’re feeling. 

Alongside simply asking questions (more on that in a moment), pay attention to what your prospects aren’t saying, the keywords and emojis they use, how loquacious they are, the punctuation they’re applying, and so on. 

Uncover prospect needs through open-ended questions

If your prospect isn’t giving you the necessary cues, try to uncover their needs through open-ended questions. 

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Remember, this is “conversational” sales. A good conversation is two-sided. It shouldn’t be all about your sales rep pushing a spiel. It should be a reciprocal exchange between the rep and the customer. 

So, use open-ended questions encouraging the prospect to talk about themselves and their wants. Your rep can then build on their points and concerns and pitch their sales approach accordingly.

Examples of open-ended sales questions include:

  • What brings you to our website?
  • Is there anything I can help you with?
  • Is there a particular [product/service] you’re interested in?
  • How can [product/service] benefit you?
  • What challenges are you facing that we can help you to overcome?
  • Are you experiencing issues with your current [product/service provider]?

Tailor interactions using customer data and past conversations

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The best relationships involve a degree of knowledge about the other party on both sides. The customer usually has an advantage over the brand in this respect. The customer may well have researched the brand extensively before starting a conversation, whereas the brand is coming in with relatively little knowledge about the customer.

This is where tech comes in very useful. The best prospecting tools for sales won’t just deliver high-quality leads for you. They’ll also bring relevant data that your reps can use to tailor each action toward each prospect’s specific needs.

For example, your chat tool could send you a prospect, demographic data, and relevant recent browsing behavior (did they click on one of your adverts to reach your landing page? Did they come here through social media?). This data is a great starting point for a productive sales conversation.

The more interactions you have with a prospect or customer, the more data you will gather. Eventually, you’ll be able to use past conversations to understand exactly what your customer likes from an interaction and what they want from your brand. Your conversations will get easier, and your brand/customer relationship will deepen.

So, gather and pay close attention to your customer data at every point.

Offer valuable insights to demonstrate expertise

Try to avoid meaningless superlatives in sales chats. Don’t just claim that your product is “the best” or “world-beating” or whatever. Explain why it’s all those things. Use real-life examples, explain how and why your offering works, and give tailored insights into how what you’re selling can help the individual customer.

You will inspire trust by demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about. So, rather than pushing for sales through hyperbole and excessive positivity, demonstrate expertise through giving genuine, valuable insights about what you’re offering.

Let’s say you’ve spoken with a prospect who has shared some of their key funnel metrics. They’ve identified that they particularly need support with improving their close rate. 

This is a window of opportunity – share a relevant client case study demonstrating how your product or service helped that company grow from similar baseline metrics. Highlight key takeaways or immediate insights, but let the prospect read the case study in full in their own time. 

Avoid scripted language to show authenticity and sincerity

Having a rough script containing information points and reminding sales reps to be courteous and friendly is useful. But if your script is too rigid, it will come off as inauthentic and off-putting.

So, as part of your outreach strategy, give your sales reps the freedom and flexibility to express themselves in their own words. If you want an example script to demonstrate how a good conversation might go, that’s great. But encourage your team members to riff off that script rather than copy it to the letter.

Using their own unique selling style lends authenticity and sincerity to what your sales reps say, which is very appealing to customers. Similarly, it will encourage sales reps to actively listen to customers rather than wait for the next opportunity to insert a new scripted phrase into the conversation.

Here are a few examples of badly scripted chats and alternatives that are more professional, helpful, and empathetic. 

Initial greetings are a chance to make a great first impression. They should be friendly and welcoming and use personalization to make returning customers feel special.

When a customer presents an issue, agents should come across as empathetic rather than abrupt. They should offer genuine solutions and never blame the customer for the issue.

The customer isn’t always the one who starts the conversation. Automatic triggers allow you to upsell and guide visitors through the sales funnel. But ensure scripts are carefully considered to encourage them to engage with you.

Align communication style with prospect preferences

People have a wide range of communication styles, especially when it comes to written communication.

Some people use short responses and a lot of abbreviations. Others will explain their issues and needs in lengthy blocks of text. Some will be lighthearted and use emojis, others will expect a more formal mode of conversation.

Try, as far as you can, to align the way you communicate with what your prospects seem to want and expect. Again, data from past conversations will be useful here, but if that’s not available, use the prospect’s own communication style to set the tone for your own responses.

Predict and handle objections with empathy

Objections and shut-downs are a fact of sales. Every rep will experience them, and occasionally your team members will come across people who are rude and aggressive in their objections.

It can be tough to respond to this interaction with empathy and professionalism, but a good sales rep will do their utmost to keep their cool and sympathize with angry prospects or customers.

If it helps, encourage your sales reps to understand the customer’s point of view. Empathy can help team members maintain a friendly, sympathetic, and professional tone throughout the conversation.

Maintain momentum with personalized follow-up messages

A good initial conversation is a fantastic start, but to get the best possible results, you need to follow-up with timely, personalized messaging.

So, try to get the prospect’s contact details during conversational sales. If possible, arrange a time for a follow-up meeting (this is particularly useful if you have software to demo).

Remember, personalization is key to conversion. So, as far as is possible, make your follow-ups tailored to the individual customer. Use their name, mention their particular concerns and challenges, and remind them of the value that your offering can bring to their specific situation.

Key takeaways

Conversational selling is the future. With Millennials and Gen Z exerting more buying power than ever, it’s time to start selling in ways that work for them. And phone calls, overwhelmingly, are not what younger demographics want.

Conversational selling can build the immediacy and momentum of a phone call without the commitment. Plus, it can help you build a deeper, more lasting relationship with your customer based on solid data insight.

Using the tips in this article, you can build a conversational selling strategy that will boost your conversion rate and attract loyal customers.

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