What is live chat?

Live chat is a way for businesses to engage with their website visitors. You can use a live chat software to initiate conversation with website visitors—even when they are not your customers. You can also interact with returning customers and support your existing users in real-time. Using a live chat tool to talk to your customers is virtually like greeting your customers walking into your business establishment.

Live chat helps your business to nurture first-time website visitors in a way other traditional methods cannot. Live chat is also a proven method to shorten the sales cycle once your leads engage in a chat conversation. Imagine giving your customers real-time product walk-through, answering all of their questions on-the-fly, and negotiating the product pricing instantaneously instead of expecting them to shop with you next time.

Unlike traditional lead generation methods like online forms, phone, and emails, what makes live chat more special is that it’s a perfect mix of human touch and automated responses that are quick and interactive. Live chat is human-centric and feels very similar to interacting with friends via WhatsApp or Messenger. And yet, it offers chatbots and other forms of automation to kick in when human agents are not required. For example, if your business operates within certain office hours, you can automate chatbots to engage with prospects, collect their contact info, and transfer the data to your CRM. You can even use chatbots in place of pre-chat forms to qualify lead quality before every chat; when customers want to talk to real humans, you can always take over the conversations from chatbots.

How does live chat contribute to improving sales?

Sales teams across industries have a big advantage in using live chat for their sales and lead generation goals because it’s easy to use and cost-efficient. When compared to traditional lead generation tools, live chat is also more widely accepted and scalable in the long run. While other lead generation channels are slow at prospecting new visitors and turning them into customers, live chat conversations are very handy because of their impeccable timing—they work best when customers are at the peak of their engagement with your brand.

Customers need a bit of a positive push to go through a purchase when they are on your website, interested in knowing more about your product based on their past reference, and while they are considering your product for purchase. You get to convert your leads into potential customers in real-time.

On the other hand, customers have now grown too accustomed to cold calls and emails and they tend to avoid them for the lack of relevance and personal touch in these sales channels. This is why many businesses, including SaaS-based companies, are already seeing live chat as one of the most reliable sources for closing sales and against other traditional means.

Let’s take a closer look at what live chat for sales has to offer for businesses looking to improve their bottom line:

1. Chatbots

Use chatbots to handle perfunctory tasks in an interesting way. For first-time visitors on your website,  you can deploy a chatbot to engage with them in a way that feels natural and measures their interest level. You can program the chatbot to collect lead information and qualify them as potential leads. Chatbots can also fill in for human agents during their offline business hours.
 

2. Contextual communication

Use live chat to trigger timely messages based on certain user actions or events on your website. For example, if a user navigates to the pricing page, you can automate a triggered message to display a combo offer. You can also schedule messages based on user behavior; such as, when a user drops items from her shopping cart.
 

3. Multi-tasking

While phone and email are one-on-one, asynchronous medium to carry out possible sales deals, live chat allows your agents to talk to multiple prospects simultaneously without compromising the quality of conversation. You can also make use of automated features like deploying chatbots during the pre-chat stage or send canned responses to speed up response time.
 

4. User-friendliness

Live chat comes with a user interface that is familiar and convenient. The majority of online shoppers are intimidated by long pre-chat forms that they have to fill on some websites in order to chat with a human agent. While lead-qualifying chatbots basically do the same thing, customers prefer engaging with a chatbot to be a more intuitive and interactive than filling out an online form.
 

5. Reduce cart abandonment

A majority of online businesses these days suffer from the epidemic where customers isolate their shopping carts when they are close to a purchase. Live chat can help businesses overcome this problem by letting them send timely triggered messages to entice a customer to stay back and proceed through the checkout page. You can offer a personalized discount or a coupon code to customers so that they rethink their exit.

Isn’t live chat primarily a customer support tool?

Traditionally speaking, the use case for a live chat tool was mostly limited to being a reactive customer support channel. In fact, over 73% of all online customers expect online businesses to offer a good live chat support.

But live chat has been around in business since 1970’s and progressive businesses are exploring new and potential ways to use live chat for sales and other business scenarios. For instance, several sales teams around the world use Freshchat to replace their old and clunky customer relationship management (CRM) systems because it’s modern, easy-to-use, and comes with all the features relevant to today’s business problems.

Tools like Freshchat are redefining the way live chat works and making it easier for businesses to adopt live chat as a powerful sales tool. Sales team use efficient and automated live chat features like chatbots or behavior-based messaging to qualify and prospect website into becoming their leads and eventually their customers.

Chatbots, for example, can be programmed to engage with prospects in an intelligent and interactive way to simply collect their lead data or to qualify them as marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Chatbots are automated and can work round-the-clock; you don’t have to worry about missing leads from different time zones that visit your online storefront during your offline business hours. They can also transfer the lead data automatically into your CRM software so that the sales team can start nurturing them. Seamless automation is one reason why live chat is becoming a favorite among sales team across all industries as a must-have sales tool in their tech arsenal.

On the flip side, modern live chat tools also come with friendly user interface and personalization capabilities that help sales team offer a personalized customer experience and human touch during a prospect’s customer journey. Live chat is not like the ancient cold outreach strategies where salespeople have to reach out to nameless faces. Live chat is an inbound lead generation channel; so the buyer intent is already ripe if they are visiting your website. Personalization works great in such sales use cases where prospects are already in the brand consideration phase.

Live chat software like Freshchat come with capabilities that can help your online chat agents identify visitors by their name, gender, location, social handle, and other such pertinent details so that they can offer a personalized interaction.

Live chat for sales vs. email

Sales teams bank heavily on cold emails as a channel to reach out to prospects who might be interested in trying and buying their products. But sadly enough, the email engagement rate is on a steady decline over the years. According to HubSpot, close to 40% salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is getting challenging than ever before.

Emails have stood the test of time and passed their prime as a lead and sales generating channel, unless your business has a loyal following of returning customers as part of your revenue. Now, emails are limited to being a point of business communication for professionals mostly within their known network of contacts. People despise and immediately expunge any unsolicited means of outreach in their inbox as junk mail to save time and maintain productivity.

Meanwhile, there has been a good proliferation of new avenues over the past few years to replace email as a reliable source of lead generation and sales channel. For example, content marketing and live chat own a lion’s share of inbound lead generation technique in the business world today because they map back directly to a buyer’s intent, are easier to administer, and cost less.

 

Live chat for sales vs. phone

Cold calls have become the bane of good sales prospecting; they are perceived so much as an annoyance that they might actually hurt than help your chances of converting prospects into leads. According to a Baylor University research, businesses are only able to convert 1% of prospects into leads via cold calls. Phone doesn’t work as an efficient channel for sales prospecting anymore because customers like to guard their time on phone conversations. They don’t like talking to random strangers trying to sell them something—the engagement in such a setup is very dismal. That’s why customers don’t have the patience to listen to a two-minute sales pitch and will hang up before a salesperson can even finish.

Cold calls are pushy, impersonal, and hence, inefficient. It’s the reason why 80% of all cold calls go to the voicemail instead of prospects picking up the calls and responding to them. It’s also the most archaic form of outbound lead generation tactic which is proving to be a failure. Marketers all over the world believe that inbound marketing channels are way better than outbound channels because they give high quality leads to the sales team.

Compare this with live chat that is emerging as a hot new sales avenue because of how personalized and friendly it is. Live chat doesn’t bother prospects at unsuspecting hours; it’s mostly the users who initiate a live chat conversation. On the contrary, you can program live chat for sales on your website to initiate proactive messaging, but it still doesn’t come across as an annoyance. Why? Because prospects are at the peak of their brand engagement when they are inside a website. Therefore, when live chat chimes in, it’s more of a helpful nudge to customers than an interference.

Sales surveys over the years have shown that sales professionals who use social channels are 10X better at selling than their counterparts who don’t use social media for selling. This is another reason why customers and salespeople love using a live chat tool. You can configure the chat widget to represent your company brand, add a photo, edit the bio, and connect your social media handles that customers can click on. This adds to the credibility to the brand and agents customers are interacting with; customers are confident engaging with real people with verifiable identities.

Compare this with phone calls where customers have very little context of who is calling, if it’s a legitimate communication, and what kind of credibility the caller or their business has.

How can live chat help with sales prospecting?

It’s clear that the old channels of outbound prospecting are dying a slow death. Add tougher government regulations such as GDPR mix into it and you will have more reasons to see why phone and email outreach is a fool’s errand. Outbound sales is an area of troubled water your business is better off staying away from.

That’s where the opportunity to explore inbound marketing comes in. It’s more efficient, more affordable, and a win-win for both sales development representatives (SDRs) and sales prospects. Moreover, live chat is where the strongest opportunities are. A live chat conversation is engaging, personalized, and most importantly—timely. It hits the rod when it’s hot. Unlike phone and email sales funnel, it helps your brand interact with prospects when they are most engaged with your brand. All they need is a little more positive affirmation to like your brand, a little touch of a live chat conversation.

Talking to someone over live chat is not like filling up an online form or dodging a string of pop-ups and squeeze pages before you remember what was the reason you came to the website. It’s like asking a cheery stranger for directions in a new town—the more cheery the townsfolk are, the more you are likely to stay back or revisit the place. You don’t mind sharing a tidbit about you if they happen to ask, right? Just like the live chat’s power to get your prospects to share their lead data.

You can also use live chat to qualify your website visitors on the basis of their interest. If prospects are just window-shopping, it’s better to let them be than trying to be sales-y with them. If they are more likely to convert or buy, you can offer a high touch, personalized care.

This shortens the customer journey and, thus, shortens the sales process as well. Live chat also suits all kind of customers depending on the level of interactivity they prefer. Chatbots can engage with most customers to collect their information before they are passed onto a human agent, or before they close the conversation. If they are prospects that absolutely need to talk to a chat agent before making up their mind, live chat can offer avenues for them to do that in real-time. When prospects want to independently tour around your website, they can explore the FAQs and other self-help content within the chat widget to find answers to their questions. They don’t have to scour the depths of your website to find an answer to your features or pricing queries.

How to nurture marketing-qualified leads into sales-ready leads

Understanding your lead funnel is critical to marketing and selling your products to the right market. It breaks down the complexity of lead scoring when you identify leads based on their interest level and likelihood to convert. For examples, prospects are top-of-the-funnel assets that have the potential to filter in as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). MQLs are tepid leads in the middle-of-the-funnel that can potentially turn into customers if nurtured well—but their conversion might take time. SQLs are bottom-of-the-funnel customers who are highly likely to convert as customers. All MQLs may not become your customers, whereas SQLs have a high likelihood to convert into your customers.

Therefore, your lead generation and sales will become more seamless and accurate when your lead funnelling activities align well in a cohesive sequence. It enables your business to identify hot, warm, and cold leads so that you can pursue prospects based on their interest level with your brand. You can understand your lead demography and their interest level so that you can launch effective plans for each lead group.

Here are four tactical ways you can nurture marketing qualified leads into sales-ready leads:
 

1. Tap into the power of SEO-based content

When it comes to mapping your product’s need back to its ideal users, Google is your friend. You can create smart and relevant content for your buyer’s persona to offer them answers to what questions they are entering in the search engine. Start by identifying the most-sought-after keywords that your prospects are looking for and investing in SEO marketing to attract the right people into your business. Use SEO-friendly tools to curate a list of high keyword volume that is relevant to your niche and create content assets that are related to your audience search intent. This will help you become more discoverable to your target audience. In many ways, creating keyword-based content to tap into your audience’s interest is personalization at scale.
 

2. Set up drip campaigns

The good thing about having MQL data is that you can send them personalized emails at paced out intervals to pique their interest in your products. A drip campaign is a way to send information about your product, or other pieces of useful information, to your prospects in small doses so that they have a recall with your brand. If the content appeals to them, they will consider your brand for their requirements. Make sure you include some kind of call-to-action (CTA) in these emails so that MQLs can easily come back to your brand once they are ready to take their engagement to the next level. Be wary of overwhelming them with emails; send emails at strategical time gaps to make sure you are becoming useful instead of being spammy.
 

3. Use a modern live chat tool

Although live chat is traditionally viewed as an inbound lead generation channel, you can use it to proactively engage with your potential leads. Live chat for sales can replace annoying pop-ups that repel prospects. Live chat offers the perfect mix of human touch and automation to help your business nurture cold or warm leads into hot ones. For example, let’s say you have an online store that has a good traffic but not-so-great lead conversion rate. You can optimize your live chat’s capabilities such as automated messages, chatbots, and self-service content to make sure MQL nurturing happens seamlessly for all leads at scale. You don’t necessarily have to have human agents live round-the-clock; chatbots can engage with leads in a meaningful way and automate lead data to your CRM tool.
 

4. Offer value to your leads

To make your sales funnel more efficient, provide value to MQLs in their customer journey. This includes giving away useful content assets like downloadable e-books and infographics, free entry to your events, or registrations to a webinar with a famous speaker. This kind of ungating of valuable content works way better than just developing marketing copies that your audience can tune out easily. Giving value to your MQLs has multifold advantages; it helps your marketing your brand to your leads as well as other potential customers, it drastically improves your lead generation process, and it helps you build good relationships with customers who appreciate your content.

Use cases for live chat for sales

Businesses that have adopted live chat for sales have created plenty of opportunities for themselves to help customers engage better with their brands and eventually increase their revenue. Here are a few things you can expect to achieve when you apply live chat for sales in your business:

 

1. Generate leads

Use live chat to proactively engage with your first-time website visitors. Get rid of annoying pop-ups that repel prospects. Trigger messages based on user behavior or time so that prospects are hooked with your brand. Leverage the conversational advantage of live chat to collect lead data and automate it to your CRM tool.
 

2. Never miss leads

Program smart workflows for a lead bot to interact with your prospects during your offline business hours. Give your chatbot a personality—funny, friendly, sassy, or whatever else your visitors might like them to be. Also, use a lead bot to qualify leads based on their interest level before a handoff to the human.

3. Book demos

Don’t clutter your product pages with pop-ups, hello bar, and other intrusive message boxes. Customers don’t like information overwhelm. Nurture the interest of sales-ready leads to book demos, sign-up for free trial, or download your sales enablement content from right within the chat widget.
 

4. Reduce cart abandonment

Eliminate the chances of visitors dropping off from your website by setting up contextual campaigns. For example, offer them a tantalizing discount coupon to help them change their mind. Help them proceed through the checkout by sending timely messages.
 

5. Nurture leads

Every time a lead comes back to your website, use the chat history and context to engage better with them. Create a personalized experience for leads to engage deeply with their brand. Also, use the automated information in your CRM tool to set up drip campaigns and offer value in each of their brand interaction.


Freshchat can help your sales team succeed

Freshchat is a powerful live chat tool designed to help businesses ace their customer engagement. Below are a few ways in which Freshchat can empower your sales team to reach their targets:
 

1. Campaigns

Know who is visiting your website, what are they looking for, and how can you help by setting up relevant campaigns. Leverage the user properties to segment your visitors into a group and send targeted messages that will resonate with them. Use chatbots to engage with your leads during your non-business hours and automate lead data onto your CRM.
 

2. IntelliAssign

Make intelligent work happen with the help of IntelliAssign—a smart routing feature to help you even out conversations across your chat team based on workload or expertise. Automatically assign certain chats to specific individuals within your team to give your customers the best experience. Use various assignment rules like keywords, language, user properties, time, and so on.
 

3. Self-service

Offer your customers the best kind of self-help content so that they can engage with your brand independently and at their own convenience. Integrate self-service content assets like FAQs, help videos, product tutorials, blog articles, and support guides within the chat widget so that leads can find answers at their fingertips.
 

4. Insights

Respond to leads in a timely fashion by monitoring important metrics like first response time and chat volume in real-time. Use canned response to answer common types of queries on the fly to save time and improve your team’s productivity. Answer urgent queries by using Priority Inbox and increase collaboration among your team members.
 

5. SmartPlugs

Use Freshchat’s SmartPlugs feature to pull a user’s context from external apps and systems right inside the conversation. Chat better and sell smarter by bringing data from third-party apps such as a CRM to make relevant recommendations and offer personalized solutions.
 

6. Integrations

Connect Freshchat with the critical apps in your software stack. Integrate with your all-star software suites such as Slack, Freshdesk, Clearbit, Messenger, and Zendesk to make the best of all worlds. Work seamlessly across all tools to offer the best customer experience to your potential customers.