You’re shopping for a new smartphone when a sales rep stops you dead in your tracks and tells you about a number of different phones on sale or on promotion. Instead of asking what you’re really looking for in a phone, the rep has the singular agenda to make a sale and nothing more.
What if the sales rep instead took the time to get to know you first. Without being overly intrusive, they ask about what you want a smartphone for and how much you plan on using it. They give you honest options and opinions. Not only do you now have a better idea of what you’re looking for, but you also feel a connection to this sales rep.
The latter scenario is an example of conversational selling at work. To establish more lucrative long-term relationships with your brand, you put customers and prospects ahead of making a quick sale.
What Is Conversational Selling?
Conversational selling is the act of engaging customers and prospects through direct dialogue. This selling can take place via chatbot or a live company representative. The idea is that the sales process is centered on a conversation versus a pitch.
Customers and prospects are encouraged to talk about their wants and needs, which are then addressed by the company. In that sense, it’s an open dialogue. Instead of selling a particular product or service to hit your company’s sales KPIs, the focus shifts to the customer or prospect. They tell you what they’re looking for, whether that’s more information about your brand or a direct product link. The key is that they’re able to get answers right away.
The two-way interaction with a customer or prospect also leads to more opportunities. Even if the prospect isn’t interested in the product they initially reached out about, your company now has the information to help guide them toward another solution it offers.
Perhaps you realized through your conversation that the prospect loves certain aspects of a product, but they don’t need all of its features. Offering them a leaner alternative with fewer features and at a lower cost can be a great solution. You’ve not only addressed their needs but also gave a lower price than they may have initially expected.
Think of conversational selling as an affirmation of sorts. Your customer or prospect already knows your brand and has contacted you through a channel, possibly with the intention of making a purchase at some point. As the brand, your job is to make sure they get exactly what they’re looking for and, if not, point them in the right direction.
Where Does Conversational Selling Happen?
Much like conversational marketing, conversational selling should take place on the channels where your customers and prospects are comfortable interacting with brands. Customers and prospects use various ways to engage with chatbots or live company reps. Below are a few common channels where conversational selling takes place, though your ideal channels will differ based on your buyer personas.
- Your company website
- Search engines
The chat specifications for each of these channels differ slightly, so it’s important to make sure your conversational selling experience is optimized for each one. For example, it might be easier to direct prospects from a chatbot to a live rep on your company website versus from an app like Kik.
The Benefits of Conversational Selling
The real beauty of conversational selling is that it’s a way to establish a true connection with customers and prospects. The benefits are centered on the idea of nurturing long-term relationships, which makes customers and prospects feel heard and taken care of.
According to Edelman’s Brand Trust in 2020 report, the biggest factor that led to brand trust was personal experience with a product or service. Through conversational selling, you can explain how your product or service fits a prospect’s needs to encourage them to use it.
You might even feel inclined to offer a free trial or demo for them to experience the product or service for themselves. This is different from traditional marketing or sales tactics that won’t give the customer or prospect an opportunity to engage with your brand in that way.
Helps you offer personalized customer experiences
By directly interacting with a customer or prospect, your chatbot or live company rep is also gaining valuable data about what they want and need. Equipped with this information, your company can offer customers and prospects personalized advice and service that would otherwise have been impossible to identify.
For example, your chatbot or live company rep can find out basic information about your customer or prospect. This can include things such as their name, location, and occupation. In future communications with that customer or prospect, you can use this type of information to provide more personalized service based on what your chatbot or reps already know about them.
Allows you to demonstrate industry expertise
Having a conversation with a customer or prospect is a great way to show them just how much knowledge your company has about its industry, product, or service. Conversational selling is a great way to highlight how much collective knowledge you have as a brand. The more knowledge you share about your industry and brand, the easier it will be for customers and prospects to identify the value in your product or service.
Conversational Selling Tips: A Pro’s Perspective
Set chatbot expectations from the start
There’s nothing worse than running into a chatbot that makes it appear as if it can answer anything. While AI technology has come a long way, chatbots can still be somewhat limited in their responses. Being upfront about a chatbot’s capabilities is key in solidifying a customer or prospect’s trust.
“Many of our enterprise customers have bots that can answer almost any question but still give the option to book a meeting or chat with a live rep with a button,” Cohen says. “It’s also important to let people know if the bot is still learning and that if they don’t get the answer they are looking for, they’ll be routed to chat with a live person.”
Overselling your chatbot’s capabilities is a quick path to frustration for your customer or prospect. If you’re honest and give prospects the option of talking to a real person, they’ll be far more trusting of your brand overall.
Focus on context, personalization, and speed
According to Cohen, conversational selling really comes down to three main principles: context, personalization, and speed.
“[Customer and prospects] want an experience that is both personalized and contextual while giving them the opportunity to get their one or two questions answered now while they are on the website,” Cohen says.
Customer and prospects want an experience that is both personalized and contextual while giving them an opportunity to get their one or two questions answered now while they are on the website. Click To Tweet
Tailoring your questions to focus on context and personalization is key to a great conversational selling experience. If a prospect wants information about a product, for example, answer that question but also dig a little deeper to find out why they’re interested in a particular product. The more information you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to offer them the ideal solution for their needs.
It doesn’t matter if you use chatbots or live reps
Here’s a secret: People don’t really care who they talk to for answers at your company — they just want answers.
“[Customers and prospects] don’t care if their questions are answered by an automated bot or a live representative,” Cohen says. “They just want their questions answered now so they can book a meeting or purchase a product. [Conversational selling] gives brands the opportunity to do this and create an incredible prospect experience.”
While people might not really care who answers their questions, it’s still important to let them know whether they’re speaking to a chatbot or a live company rep. Making sure you include that as part of the chatbot or live rep’s initial greeting is the easiest way to do this. As mentioned above, setting concrete expectations from the very beginning will help you create a smoother experience for your customer or prospect.
Sell More by Talking to Your Customers
Don’t have the infrastructure to support hiring more live reps? Drive your conversational selling efforts by using a chatbot instead. Check out our conversational marketing guide, which has a number of great, affordable chatbot-builder options that don’t require any coding experience. Use these tools to customize customer conversations and offer real value to your prospects.