Live chat for Sales

Live Chat for Sales: 9 Best Practices for Using Sales Live Chat Effectively

Are you wondering how to use live chat for sales? Looking for advice on how to implement a sales live chat strategy for your organization and use live chat as a powerful sales tool?

Isn’t it incredible? 

A few short years ago, selling online seemed synonymous with nothing else than shopping carts, checkout processes, and such. If you worked in the B2B market, it was a lead capture form that drove your online sales. 

All these sales methods continue to generate sales today, of course. But they are no longer the only way to sell online. 

Today’s customers don’t want dry and impersonal interactions with brands. Sending emails with inquiries, awaiting responses (if they ever come) is beyond question for them. 

Most customers visiting your website want an instant connection with your sales team. What’s more, they have the power to demand it. 

In this guide, we’ll talk about the most effective method for meeting that demand – Sales live chat. 

  • You’ll learn more about this fundamental shift in the sales process. 
  • We’ll define what live chat for sales is too. 
  • I will tell you what your customers expect from a sales live chat interaction. 
  • Together, we’ll also go through some of the best practices for using live chat to sell online.
  • Finally, I will show you some of the best tools to offer live chat for sales.

Ready?

What is Live Chat for Sales?

In principle, sales live chat works just like any other live chat you see on websites. A site visitor uses a chat widget to initiate a real-time engagement with a brand. 

However, with the sales live chat, instead of chatting with customer support (the most common way of using live chat), a salesperson picks up their chat request. 

For that reason, such live chat interaction focuses primarily on answering the person’s questions about a product, its availability, etc. 

The objective for sales live chat, then, is to offer the same help and assistance a store clerk would, much like as if the person had been shopping in a brick-and-mortar place.

Note: Many businesses offer both types of live chat at the same time. 

Those companies use the channel to support customers by offering live chat customer service. At the same time, they also have a live chat for sales to help new customers get the best shopping experience on the site.

In this case, you can often see routing options in the chat widget. Thanks to that, site visitors can prequalify themselves and tell the company who they want to speak with right now. 

Example of a live chat for sales on a website.

(An example of a site using live chat routing to connect a visitor with different departments.)

Why You Have No Choice But to Launch a Sales Live Chat?

I realize that the above headline may sound a bit pushy, and I am sorry about that. 

But what it says is true. 

You have no choice but to use live chat for selling, and here is why.

Live chat has become a communications standard.

As customers, we no longer associate the online sales process with forms, carts, checkouts, etc. True, these are parts of the process, but they aren’t the only ones. 

In fact, when it comes to engaging with businesses, 79% of customers prefer live chat. Why? Well, because they get instant responses this way. 

What’s more, 44% of online customers admit that instant communication is the most essential option a website can offer. 

Live chat shortens the sales cycle.

Sales chat is a proactive strategy. You offer customers real-time assistance, answer their questions immediately, and proactively guide customers to the sale. 

Sales live chat builds personal connections

I admit that landing pages, sales pages, and other collateral works amazingly well to generate online conversions. 

But it’s all very impersonal. 

You can craft engaging copy, of course. But no matter how well you write it, it will never replace a real conversation. And that’s exactly what live chat facilitates. 

With sales live chat, you are there when customers need you. You can answer their questions, guide them, uncover more about their needs, recommend products, and do so much more. 

As a result, not only can you impress and delight customers, you can serve them much better. 

Much much better. 

Live chat prequalifies leads too.

Or, to be more specific, your visitors quality themselves as leads by initiating a sales chat. 

Every time a person reaches out to your sales team through the chat widget, you can be assured that the conversation will have a sales aspect. You can, in turn, conduct the conversation in such a way to help and assist a new lead and convert them into a customer.

Why Do More and More Companies Turn to Live Chat for Sales?

All the benefits I’ve discussed above confirm that sales live chat is an absolute must-have for any website. 

But why do companies turn to it in the first place? What do they want to achieve by adding the option to chat with the sales team directly from the website? 

Well, here are the reasons that I hear from customers signing up for our live chat software:

  • They want to sell more from the website and close those sales faster. 
  • Those companies also want to shorter their sales cycle and break the reliance on email as the primary sales tool. 
  • Sales managers from those companies also understand that not all potential customers will engage through email or phone. As a result, they want to increase their sales team’s focus on serving all potential leads and not restrict themselves to reactively answering emails or calls. 

What About Customers? What Do They Expect from the Sales Live Chat? 

Answering this question requires us to revisit the idea behind the fundamental shift in customer expectations that we’ve talked briefly about earlier in this guide. 

Because even a short while ago, we thought of the online buying process as reactive. We knew that we could control much of the purchasing process, of course, add products to the cart, and complete the purchase. 

But that worked only if we 1.) knew what we want to buy, exactly, and 2.) the product was immediately available. 

(By the way, the above criteria apply to selling services online as well.) 

Often, however, at least one of those criteria was missing. 

We’d visit a website, read the product or service description, and leave with more questions than we had before, for example. We had two options then. We could either chase the internet for answers or email our questions to the company. 

Sales live chat turned this process upside down. 

Granted, we might still have the same number of questions as before. But with live chat, we can get answers pretty much right away. 

And that’s exactly what customers expect from sales live chat:

  • Speed. Most customers will want their questions answered fast. 
  • Availability. They also want to connect with you whenever they want and through devices they use. 
  • Quality. And finally, customers expect in-depth information and guidance. We’ll talk about one of the most effective strategies to help your salespeople deliver that very shortly in this guide. 

Live Chat for Sales: Best Practices

We’ve covered practically everything you need to know to launch a sales live chat for your company. 

You know what such live chat is, why you should use it, the benefits it can deliver for your brand, and even what your customers expect from chatting with your salespeople in real-time.  

So, now, let me show you how to use live chat for sales. 

All the best practices below come from either my experience with using live chat to generate more sales conversions from the website, building a live chat for Slack, and advising our customers to have more meaningful live chat conversations. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get right to it. 

#1. Have Your Salespeople Answer Sales Chats

I realize that this advice may seem obvious but bear with me, please. 

You see, a mistake I often see companies make is handing over sales chats to customer service agents. 

Many of those companies use live chat for customer support already. They have agents ready to answer customer’s questions, and it’s only logical to ask the very same people to chat to leads. 

The problem? Customer support teams do not think it sales terms. Their role is to answer questions but not to convert. As a result, they lack sales know-how and the instinct to conduct sales conversations well.

Even if you have a single salesperson on the team so far, have them answer sales live chats. This simple thing will increase your chat’s effectiveness right away.

#2. Set Online and Offline Hours

Another obvious piece of advice, isn’t it? 

Well, true. But then again, how often do you initiate a live chat conversion only to end up waiting on end for someone to pick it up on the other end?

And how many times have you ended up abandoning the website just because no one has actually responded to your request?

You see, it’s absolutely fine for no one to be there to pick up the chat. Your company, most likely, doesn’t work 24/7, and you don’t have the staff to man the chat at all hours. 

But not telling a visitor about it is unacceptable. It leaves them dissatisfied and often makes a poor impression about the business. 

To avoid that, set online and offline hours for the sales chat. And when you’re offline, display a message to customers about it, along with the option to leave a message. 

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#3. Engage Visitors Proactively

Some visitors turn to the chat option immediately after encountering a problem. 

Many others, however, will try to solve their problem on their own first. They’ll scout your website for more information and answers, for example. Remember, these people might still need your help. But for some reason, they decide not to contact your sales team immediately. 

You can (and should) nudge them to start a conversation, though. 

You do it with something that we call proactive chat messages. 

Proactive chat messages tell a visitor that your sales team is ready to help, should they need assistance. Those messages, typically, trigger automatically once the live chat system you use detects a specific visitor behavior – visiting specific pages, returning to a product or service page over and over, staying on a page for a specific time, and so on. 

However, you can use many other proactive chat triggers:

  • You could send personalized messages to first-time visitors. Such messages would offer help and notify the person that there’s someone to assist them, should they need help.
  • Engage returning visitors with messages welcoming them back. 
  • Target visitors who view a specific page (i.e., product page or pricing page) for a longer period of time. 

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#4. Personalize the Sales Chat Widget

Traditionally, a big part of sales success has always revolved around the salesperson’s ability to connect with a customer on a personal level. That personal connection would result in trust. And that, in turn, led directly to a sale.

But such a customer experience feels almost impossible to achieve with live chat, right? 

How often, seeing a live chat widget, do you wonder whether there is even an actual human on the other end? Or maybe it’s just a chatbot that’s conversing with you? 

Well, good news, there are ways to overcome this problem, and building personal connections isn’t restricted to face-to-face sales interactions only. 

The best place to start is by personalizing the sales widget and clarifying who the person is chatting with.

For example, instead of using headings such as “[Company] Sales Team,” display the sales agent’s name, position in the company, and photo. 

Just this simple tweak will increase the person’s trust in you and make the conversation feel more personal.

Sales widget personalization example.

(An example of a highly impersonal chat widget)

An example of a highly personalized sales live chat widget.

(A personalized chat widget)

#5. Pre-qualify Prospects with Pre-chat Forms

I’m sure any salesperson will attest – One of the most challenging aspects of selling is quickly qualifying leads as worthy of time and effort. Not every person emailing, calling, or engaging with your company is an ideal prospect, after all. 

Sales live chat is no different. Not everyone initiating the conversation will experience the problem your products or services solve. Not all of those people will have the immediate need to find a solution. And needless to say, not all of them might have the budget to pay your rates. 

The quicker you find out whether the person is a good fit, the better you’ll serve them. And that’s even if by recommending them somewhere else. 

Luckily, there is a way to pre-qualify prospects with live chat as well. 

How? By including a short pre-chat form, asking some basic qualifying questions. 

These questions should match what salespeople ask clients when engaging with them through other channels. However, keep in mind that seeing more than three questions will deter many prospects from completing a pre-chat form. 

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#6. Reduce the Live Chat Noise on High Traffic Pages 

High traffic pages often generate quite a lot of “noise” for salespeople, unfortunately. Such noise ranges from inquiries from low-quality leads to random conversations visitors decide to strike with an agent. 

The noise results in frustration for your agents and lost productivity. 

Pre-qualifying prospects, the advice that we’ve shared above, is one way of dealing with the problem. 

But there are other ways to reduce the noise:

  • Include the sales chat widget on important pages only. Target only those pages that typically generate the most conversions. Or display the widget only on those assets that customers visit with commercial intent. 
  • Trigger the chat widget only for customers who have stayed on the site longer than 30 seconds or more. This will immediately eliminate anyone who’s landed on the site accidentally or through sheer curiosity only. 

NOTE: If your site doesn’t receive high traffic numbers yet, ignore this advice. Put live chat on every page. With fewer visitors, you want to engage as many of them. And that’s even if only to collect more information and data about them to drive future decisions. 

#7. Use Canned Responses to Scale Sales Live Chat

There’s one more benefit of live chat we didn’t discuss yet – Its scalability. 

A single salesperson can handle one phone call at a time. They can deal with email inquiries one after another only. 

But one live chat agent can handle a couple of conversations at the same time. That’s because various add-ons allow salespeople to handle multiple sales chats at once. 

Take canned responses, for example. 

Canned responses are predefined answers to the most common questions. An agent can trigger a response with a keyboard shortcut (or, in the case of Slack live chat, Slack’s slash command) and reply to a customer without having to type the answer. 

A customer, on the other hand, doesn’t have to wait for a reply. The answer appears in their chat window immediately. 

And while they read the answer, your agent is free to focus on other chat conversations. 

#8. Integrate Sales Live Chat with Your Internal Communications Tool

Communication is the staple of any business. Your employees and teams collaborate and converse with each other all day, every day.

And, for the most part, all those conversations happen in one place – your internal communications tools like Slack or MS Teams. 

Yet, more often than not, live chat resides outside of those conversations. 

Your agents still engage with their colleagues on Slack or MS Teams. But they talk to customers elsewhere. 

So what happens when they need to involve another person in a chat conversation or ask a colleague for input to process a new lead inquiry?

Well, they have to switch between apps, copy and paste fragments of conversations, and so on. 

The result is losing momentum in a sales engagement, wasted productivity, and, most likely, a challenge to close the sale. 

Luckily, the solution is quite simple. Integrate sales chat with Slack or MS Teams, and answer those chat conversations in those apps directly. 

Example of a live chat connected with Slack.

Intrigued? Learn more about using live chat with Slack or live chat with MS Teams.

#9. Give Agents Access to All Necessary Sales Collateral

I bet this is the most universal piece of advice in this guide. Because it doesn’t matter what channel your sales teams engage with customers, they need to have all the collateral at the ready. 

Does a prospect inquire about a specific product’s feature? Well, the quickest way to help them is by sharing a relevant knowledge base article.

Do they want to know more about your T&C’s? Send them a link to the legal page.

Do customers wonder how to solve a particular problem? You may have a blog post about that, and so on. 

But such relevant responses can only happen if your sales teams have direct and quick access to all the collateral:

  • URLs for all the feature pages, 
  • Access to search and retrieve knowledge base articles quickly,
  • Demo access for walkthroughs, 
  • List of sales-critical blog content, and so on.

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