How to use live chat for a product launch

Main illustration: Marianne Engedal

In sales, we often talk about how to write great email subject lines or best times to cold call. This helps, but in the world of SaaS it’s more important to communicate with your prospects when the timing is right for them to engage.

Case in point: product announcement day. Great companies will spend a lot of time crafting sophisticated product announcements with gorgeous design and content, attracting a windfall of traffic to your marketing site. But building awareness is only the first step.

The real business value lies in converting this traffic into actual paying customers, ideally within the first 24-48 hours of an announcement when their interest in your product is at its peak. This is where live chat comes in.

At Intercom, our sales team (the SDR team, to be precise) uses live chat to capture and convert these high-intent website visitors. Despite common belief, arming your sales team with live chat doesn’t have to be a costly exercise; it just requires a more efficient way of working and some prep work ahead of time.

Here are three steps to prepare your sales team for success on an announcement day:

1. Capture intent at its peak

On announcement days we focus aggressively on a metric called “First-Response-Time”, or how quickly a website visitor gets a response. With a proactive sales motion, we’ve drastically increased the likelihood of a website visitor converting into a paying customer. In fact on average, visitors are 80% more likely to convert when they’ve chatted with us first. 

Why does it work? First, live chat removes all friction prior to the sign up. We guide visitors to the best solution for their use case and answer any questions they have while starting a trial. Our SDR team is able to do this at scale using a mix of automation and authentic human interaction: we transparently use bots (Operator) to handle repetitive, mindless aspects of a conversation, which allows our SDRs to do what humans do best: listen, empathize and understand intent. Second, when you capture intent quickly you can sometimes prevent a prospect from hesitating after checking what other competitors have to offer.

In order to capture intent in your product when it is at its peak, focus on light-touch interactions in real-time (as they are visiting your website) instead of lengthy emails that always seem to be a day or two too late.

2. Proactively chat with users, aka “keep it light and stay out of the way”

On launch day, we’ll also add a proactive live chat message (called a Visitor Auto Message in our product) to different landing pages to encourage website visitors to respond.

Keep this message simple and lightweight, and when visitors start a conversation your sales team can be there to guide them and help them make the best purchase decision possible.

welcome message

During a real-time conversation our reps focus on identifying use cases with the least number of questions possible, and without being intrusive or pushy.

I like asking them to think about the customer experience of great brick and mortar stores such as at Apple, Lego or Disney stores. There’s always a friendly employee greeting you warmly at the door, you will always find a sales assistant available to guide you to make the best possible purchase (but only when you’re ready to talk to them). It’s a delightful, simple customer experience and it’s what your online sales team should aim for too.

Apple store service Model a personal sales experience after your favorite brick & mortar store.

3. Dedicate an inbox to referral traffic

Create a priority inbox to redirect all your live chat conversations from specific websites or communities. For example, if you work at a startup, you’ve probably heard of Product Hunt, an amazing and vibrant community for founders to announce new products and product enthusiasts to discover and upvote them. Many companies, including us, have experienced traffic spikes after getting traction on Product Hunt.

You’ll want to give these visitors the best experience possible as they might be your future brand ambassadors. Go the extra mile to help them get up and running quickly.

This is more of a nice-to-have, but if you can, assign reps to look after this inbox during the first 24-48 hours of your launch, and be sure to assign shifts to cover all the time-zones. You might be surprised where your traffic comes from after a major launch!

Get started with live chat for product announcements

After months or years of hard work, it is a magical experience to release your product into the wild and acquire customers that aren’t friends or family.

There is one major part that we tend to forget as we eagerly watch our products climb to the top of Product Hunt or get buzz on LinkedIn. That traffic is just the beginning. It means absolutely nothing if you cannot transform this ephemeral momentum into something meaningful: customers.

Converting this traffic into actual paying customers is the hardest part and for this reason we strongly believe arming your sales team with live chat is a key component to your launch strategy.

Want more tips for using live chat to capture and convert website traffic? Check out these other live chat resources: