From hi to buy: 6 live chat sales techniques

Main illustration: Tim Gilligan

Adding live chat to your funnel is a great way of generating more sales and targeting specific leads in a more effective way, ensuring the best experience possible for all involved.

When it comes to conversing with leads over live chat, it is a very different experience compared to talking in person or even on the phone. No wonder many reps are daunted by the thought of putting live chat on their website.

On average, website visitors who use the messenger to chat are 82% more likely to convert.

You have to be careful not to leave anything open to misinterpretation, although it can easily happen. While remaining careful in what you type, you need to balance this with leaving leads waiting too long for a response or giving them vague answers that don’t address their concerns. In order to avoid confusion and delays, you should develop a live chat etiquette that sets the standard for your messaging.

At Intercom, we always aim to be friendly, prompt, personal and enthusiastic on live chat with leads and customers. In fact, we’ve looked at 20 million conversations in aggregate across Intercom and found on average, website visitors who use the messenger to chat, are 82% more likely to convert to customers. With that in mind here’s our top tips on developing your own company’s chat etiquette:

1. Be proactive

When using live chat for sales, you should always strive to be proactive with your communications. You never want to be over-selling or pitching but you should be consciously and naturally using language that highlights the benefits of your product.

Enthusiasm is infectious so you should get your lead excited about the possibilities of your product. One way to encourage this is to share a link to a relevant customer’s success story that will allow them to envision their own potential success.

On the other hand, you will also encounter cases where your product won’t be the ideal solution for the person on the other end of your chat and in these cases, you should be honest. It is best to be upfront and friendly in these instances because it’s not beneficial for anyone to be strung along.

Enthusiasm is infectious so get your lead excited about the possibilities.

2. Be personal

Letting leads know that the person on the other end of the chat is human is so important. At the bare minimum have everyone on your team upload a photo and use their real name. If possible, add a short bio or introductory line so your lead knows who you are, what you do and how you might be able to help them before the conversation even begins.

When someone visits your site and strikes up a conversation via the messenger, they are more receptive to chatting than if you were to contact them in an unsolicited way. So to reciprocate this, you should aim to start conversations with a friendly welcome and introduction.

3. Be friendly

Conversations with leads can be a hotbed of anticipation for both parties so it’s important to remember you are both human in this interaction and you should always strive to demonstrate this to leads by being open and friendly.

Of course, you will have specific qualification questions you need to ask but this can be done through conversing the right way rather than having a Q&A style exchange.

In general, we advise that you always avoid business-like robotic language and take your cue from your lead about the type of conversation they are after.

Take your cue from your lead about the type of conversation they are after.

4. Listen

While it’s important for you to ask leads qualifying questions and highlight why you’re asking those questions, it is doubly important that you really listen to their answers and concerns as well. It should feel like there is a give and take of information rather than the visitor to your site feeling like they are going through an interrogation.

Listening will allow you to determine what their pain points are which is the quickest route to you being able to offer a suitable solution.

5. Be perceptive

You should judge the urgency of every conversation right away and this will determine how you proceed. Everyone who lands on your website and kicks off a conversation is looking for more information but it is up to you to make the call on how this is delivered.

For example, if a lead starts a conversation with a direct question and no introduction, you should firstly address their query before going into any introductions. If you were to ignore their question here and start off with formalities, you run the risk of your lead becoming frustrated.

On the other end of the spectrum, there will be leads who begin conversations by introducing themselves with more traditional greetings and small talk. This is usually a sign that your lead is happy to be more conversational.

Just one reply in the messenger can increase the likelihood of conversion by 50%.

Neither of these approaches need to be long and time-consuming. In fact, it’s a common misperception that effective live chat conversations need to be lengthy to have any success. After analyzing over 20 million conversations powered by Intercom, we found that just one reply in the messenger can increase the likelihood of conversion by 50% and one more reply makes that lead 100% more likely to convert. A conversation with 6 exchanged messages makes leads 250% more likely to become a customer.

6. Learn as you chat

Remember that when you are talking to someone through live chat, you are still just having a conversation. Sure, it’s not the same as chatting to a friend but with some practice and incorporating the tips above, it can become just as natural and work out to be a very successful sales tool for your business. At the end of the day, remember that your goal will always be to provide a great experience so use the tips above as a guide and iterate as your strategy develops and your company grows.

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