Sales is not where most people usually associate chatbots — they are more likely to be used when customers contact a brand using chat and immediately find that a bot has answered their request. Many brands are using chatbots in this way and it works well for simple questions. Many of the negative reactions around chatbots have been from customers with complex questions who found that it was difficult to move from the chatbot to a human customer service agent.
However, that’s usually a customer service process. How can chatbots make a significant difference to your sales? It helps to think first about your sales funnel. The funnel concept is just about as old as the history of sales, but it’s an easy way to think about the process of defining prospects and moving them step-by-step toward a sale. Usually, there is a specific action that tips the customer a little closer, a question, information, or comment from the brand, that hooks the customer back into the funnel — and a little further along in the process.
The sales funnel is defined differently in almost every organization or formal description, but a short summary of the steps might be:
· Awareness: The consumer first learns about a product
· Interest: The consumer searches for more information
· Decision: The consumer decides they want to move towards a purchase
· Action: The consumer makes a purchase — or takes any other desired action
Now think about how each of these different steps in the sales funnel might work if chatbots are used:
· Awareness: Common messenger apps, such as Facebook Messenger, can automatically message a consumer if their profile or messages indicate that they are very likely to be interested in your product.
· Interest: Most consumers now expect brands to be available 24/7, so a chatbot for inquiries can ensure you’re always available and most basic questions can be immediately handled.
· Decision: During the sales process (placing items in a basket, for example) the bot can automatically send more information on items, handle basic questions about items in the basket, and send additional supporting content.
· Action: Use all the data collected by chatbots throughout the entire sales funnel so that predictions about customer behavior can be made.
In each case, the chatbot is not removing the need for a human sales interaction, but it can help to nudge a consumer along the sales funnel to the point where they become a customer. The chatbot can also improve your availability so customer questions can be handled immediately 24/7 and in many cases, additional supportive materials can be automatically offered to customers. The chatbot supports the sales process by intelligently offering the customer relevant information at the right time.
At each stage of the sales process, there is a way in which chatbots can help to improve your sales performance. Chatbots can be used in one part or throughout the entire sales process to help customers get information and answers to their questions faster than ever before.
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