SMS is a fantastic business tool. In terms of conversion rates, SMS for sales can boast around 13%. This contrasts with the overall e-commerce conversion rate of 2%. It has the intimacy and immediacy of a call with none of the pressure. For this reason, many businesses are using it to their advantage in the field of B2B sales.
The B2B customer will often expect a relationship with the seller that goes beyond acquiring the product or service. A lot of the time, ongoing communication is entered into, which benefits both parties. It might facilitate product maintenance or the route by which upgrades are made known to the client and sales then proceed.
The point about relationships built on communication like this is that both parties need to feel that their needs are being met. It has to be meaningful, it has to cut down on irrelevancies, and it should really be two-way communication.
Three key advantages to SMS in B2B
Your mobile is an object that you tend to feel a strong connection to, regardless of the company’s bring your own device policy. It accompanies you nearly everywhere and is your friend in need. There is a strength of feeling there that a PC can only dream of. By using this communication route, you are tapping into almost an extension of the person themselves.
This is why SMS sales messages are so readily opened.
In fact, 89% of people receiving a text will read it within 30 minutes of it appearing on their phone.
Texting is super quick and immediate, probably more so than any other means of remote communication. What about phoning? Well, yes, a call is often a great way to engender progress down the sales funnel, but it is often perceived as time-consuming.
This is one of the reasons that 76% of customers don’t like talking to businesses on the phone. Busy employees won’t relish all the extraneous chatter that is part and parcel of a telephone conversation.
Unfortunately, what many salespeople regard as an essential and humanizing part of the call, i.e., the preamble where a personal connection is made on subjects such as “how’s your day going today?”, is nothing but an irritation to those who are desperate to get a report completed or are running late for a meeting.
A text will cut to the chase immediately. You can still be polite, but nobody is expecting any kind of conversational opening gambit with SMS sales. This frees you to talk turkey from the get-go. And the respondent can do the same. Progress ensues, and everyone’s happy. Perfect. This speed of employment is one of the key reasons why SMS tends to be so loved by customers of all kinds.
3. Lack of pressure
Another drawback to telephoning is that people tend not to welcome unsolicited calls from numbers they don’t recognize. 25% of them will not even listen to a voicemail from a strange number. That’s quite an attrition rate. Texting doesn’t suffer from this. Customers tend not to mind a text from an unknown number.
One theory is that reading a text implies less commitment to the process than engaging with a call, whether via voicemail or a live exchange. Reading a text has the advantage of window shopping; you are free to avail yourself of the goods on display, and there has been no indication of any commitment from either side to take the transaction further.
To talk on the phone, on the other hand, is akin to getting the attention of the sales assistant. As soon as you have done this, you are aware that you may need to disengage should the encounter not lead in an advantageous direction. This can put people off entering into the communication in the first place. This is why phones often go unanswered.
Do make sure, though, that you have permission from the contact on the list to send them sales SMS communications. And ensure that your business’s processes can deal promptly and effectively with any change in permissions.
How do you do it?
It’s very easy to get started, whether your business is cloud-based, traditional, or a mixture of the two. Whatever your level of hybrid cloud architecture, the process is apparently pretty simple. Sign up to an SMS platform, get your contact list uploaded, write a killer text that will get the job done, and send it out. That’s it… kind of.
There are actually many things to bear in mind when putting this together. Start by thinking about what should characterize B2B messaging as distinct from B2C.
As mentioned above, B2B sales often require a more long-term relationship than those found in the B2C sphere. This means that your messaging is going to be less overtly sales. Your message should be more peer-to-peer. You both have a professional understanding of an issue, and what you’re selling is a serious contender in terms of a way to deal with it.
Impulse-style calls to purchase action are not what you’re trying to deliver here. Something more in the nature of a friendly (but not time-wasting) collaborative tone is required.
Another factor to consider is timing. Don’t be tempted to think that unorthodox timing will give you an edge. Texts sent to your contact at evening downtimes may well give you a distinctiveness from your competition, but probably not in a good way.
This has special significance for a business operating across multiple time zones. Make sure your automation takes this into account. A sales SMS received at 2.30 am is not likely to find the customer in a receptive mood.
Finally, remember that certain holidays can actually present marketing advantages due to tie-ins, etc. By staying on top of holiday opportunities, you can score big.
Three ways of using SMS for sales
Whatever your customer journey mapping tools tell you about the stage your customer is at, SMS has a role to play.
A B2B customer may use the contact form on your website, fill in their mobile number, and your automated processes can then kick in. A message can be sent instantly thanking the customer for their interest and suggesting ways to take this forward, for instance, indicating that you’d like to call them and invite them to respond with a good time for this to take place.
This isn’t the stage to bombard them with details of service levels and loyalty programs. With SMS, conciseness is key. ‘Seriously minimalist snappiness’ is what it could stand for. (It doesn’t, by the way.)
2. Lead nudging
When you’re dealing with B2B activity, it can be a little obstructive, mainly due to the sheer number of decision-makers involved. This can be frustrating. What you need is a way of keeping the momentum going, a way of giving your contact a gentle poke to keep the conversation alive. Email is terrific for delivering meaty concepts and detailed content. But for a quick reminder, SMS is far superior.
The text message has a direct effect and a personal quality that you can augment even with automated processes. You can introduce the client’s name and other salient features into fields on your SMS system and ensure that texts go out to a list of relevant contacts at specified times.
These kinds of touches have a great cumulative effect. SMS is resultingly a good deal more effective in this role than email. In fact, 86% of businesses using SMS for sales find it garners more engagement than email.
You may wish to use SMS to keep the relationship going by updating clients on product developments etc. As long as it doesn’t become a harrying series of incitements to buy, then this can be of real benefit in giving sustenance to your business relationships. Customer retention like this can make all the difference to your overall sales success.
3. Deal closing
So, you’re at the exciting part. The deal is there, waiting to be closed, and what’s stopping things? When you need decisive action, an SMS is invaluable. We have seen how likely an SMS sales message is to be opened in the first place. It’s certainly a more impressive figure than that for email.
Your task is then to convert that attention to action. On your side is the fact that texting is, by its nature, brief and to the point. Customers will not feel that they have to wade through piles of detail to understand what is being proposed to them.
The text may simply be a request for a meet-up to get matters finalized. For this kind of concern, a simple call-to-action text and an equally simple yes/no response can take things further faster than any other means of communication.
SMS for sales can work wonders. It can be easily integrated into your business communications portfolio with a DID system. What is a DID system, and what can it do for you? It’s a way of ascribing virtual numbers to your staff that has the added benefit of having all communication tools available on one easy-to-use interface.
This enables you to use your entire range of channels. As with all such tools, you should always examine its performance carefully, using exploratory testing techniques to ensure that it is delivering optimal benefit to your business.
Never stick with just one thing. SMS is an amazing tool that can make a major difference to a sales operation. But it should be considered as an effective part of an all-conquering whole.
About the Author
Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO, what is workforce management in a call center, and Ops teams to build and nurture content. She’s written for websites like FlippingBook and Mailmunch. Here is her LinkedIn.
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