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How to get more live chat leads

Group Product Manager, Intercom

Colin Bentley


Main illustration: Sunny Eckerle

Your best quality leads aren’t at the end of a cold call; they’re the people that are already visiting your website. That’s why we’re releasing our Live Chat for Sales solution to help you turn those visitors into customers.

Over the past six years, communication between businesses and customers has changed dramatically. Informal, expressive messages sent via modern messaging tools have sounded the death knell for impersonal, clunky communications. Intercom has been at the forefront of this change, helping marketing and support teams better engage and support their customers.

What we’ve just shipped is a natural extension of our mission to make business personal – a live chat tool for sales teams built for how people communicate today.

Sales has evolved, but the tools have not

A decade ago, when software was still sold in boxes, most purchases involved an anonymous form or a call back from a sales rep. But nobody buys software like this anymore. Nowadays, by the time a buyer gets even close to a sales rep, they’ve already done a lot of their homework upfront. Customers are now in control of the sales process and it’s the businesses who are providing a personal, human selling experience that are winning.

Messaging might match the way people actually want to buy, but for businesses it’s a lot harder than just dropping a live chat widget in the bottom right corner of your website. Here’s three historical challenges with selling through live chat that we looked to solve with our latest live chat tool:

  • Too many low-value leads. Live chat is incredibly effective for sales teams. We’ve heard this time and again from our customers. But a low signal-to-noise ratio means there’s a painful tradeoff. To get those effective live chats, sales teams end up spending too much time with low value conversations: visitors who are just kicking the tires, who are far too early in the buying process, or maybe who aren’t target customers at all. The wasted effort of talking to each and every one of these visitors is really costly.
  • Wasted time spent on simple lead qualification. Even once you’ve reduced your incoming conversations to a better quality pool of visitors, you still need to prioritise them. Real-time chats are the most effective, so you need to ensure your sales team are prioritising the highest value conversations.
  • Live chat makes it very difficult to cater to different stages of the buyer’s journey. Sales today is all about building trust and education, not about being pushy or trying to close a deal. To work well, live chat needs to allow people to buy things the way they want to buy them.

4 ways live chat increases leads

We’ve built a solution we think solves many of the challenges of selling through live chat. Powered by our Respond and Engage products, it matches how modern sales teams work, with an execution bar as good as any consumer messenger out there.

1. Target high quality leads

Instead of spending all of that time and effort talking to every single visitor to your website, today’s sales teams need a way to A) let only high value leads start a conversation (without opening up the floodgates to everyone) and B) get proactive by reaching out to these leads before they head out the door.

To make things easier, our Messenger Visibility feature lets you provide live chat to only the visitors you want to connect with. For example, if you only want to talk to visitors who were serious about becoming customers, you can have the messenger appear after someone has visited your pricing page for the second time, or arrive to your site from a specific marketing campaign.

To help you proactively engage these valuable leads, we’ve also added new targeting capabilities to our visitor auto messages. An expanded set of message styles will help your message make a bigger splash and A/B testing functionality will help you test and refine the message and style that resonates with your potential customers.

Finally, with our new Clearbit Reveal integration you can take targeting to the next level, only presenting the option to live chat or sending messages to visitors based on data such as company size, industry or amount of funding raised.

2. Automate your lead qualification

Once you’ve spent all your hard earned money and effort driving traffic to your website, it makes very little sense to leave them standing in line when they get there. In an ideal world, you’d capture your leads’ valuable information and keep the conversation moving, while ushering the best leads into the fast lane.

That’s why we built a new skill for our bot, Operator, to help with these all-important first interactions. After a lead asks you a question, Operator becomes your trusty sidekick to ask a small set of initial questions that will help you qualify the value of that lead and keep the conversation going.

It’s also absurdly simple to set up. No building a bot, or trying to guess 20 different versions of how a user might reply. Simply select the pieces of data you want to collect, and Operator can do the rest.

The real power is in the automation you can build off your visitors’ answers. Want to connect the lead with the most appropriate person in your company? No problem. Want to create the visitor as a new lead in Salesforce? That’s just as easy.

All this means you don’t have to worry about the mundane and repetitive tasks that slow us down. Instead, you can focus on what you’re good at – building personal connections with the potential customers who are worth it.

3. Nurture different types of buyers

Sales today is all about being helpful and building trust, not about being pushy or trying to close a deal as soon as possible. That means live chat needs to allow people to buy things the way they want to buy them, and support them at all parts of the customer journey.

For example, let’s say a visitor lands on your website and starts a conversation. They’re interested in your product, but aren’t yet in a position to buy. Some may need convincing about the value of your product. Others may need a demo or some targeted content.

A single view of the customer is available to everyone in your company.

Our existing features of auto messages, campaigns and a complete customer record fit seamlessly with live chat for sales. Your sales reps can tag leads who aren’t yet ready to buy, add them to an email drip campaign and keep them warm with a series of messages tailored to their interests.

Once they start another conversation and are ready to buy, Intercom can route them to the top of the queue. The sales rep will see the full record of that customer, the questions they’ve asked, the emails they’ve received, the answers they’ve provided, the notes their colleagues have made, so they have all of the context before jumping into the conversation to convert the lead.

In this way, live chat isn’t a silo but one channel that lives in a central customer communication platform. You no longer need a separate tool to convert your leads, another to nurture them, another one to onboard them and another to do customer support.

For your customers, the messenger is the consistent way to communicate with your business from day 1 to year 10. It becomes the frame for their relationship with you and your brand, rather than a disappearing channel they’ll never see again once they’ve handed over their credit card details.

Messaging is the new normal for sales

The way people buy products is changing forever, and messaging will play a central role today and for years to come. In a world of subscription based software and recurring revenue, you can’t afford to just close the deal and move on. You need to build a consistently human and personal relationship from the moment they land on your site, through your free trial, through onboarding, through customer support and beyond – and we’ve built the live chat solutions to help you achieve exactly that.

Interested? You can try it out free today.