Brand. PR. Support. Enquiries.
Leads. All things you want.
All things chatbots are good for.
But ultimately, what most businesses care about are sales.
Beyond generating a tonne of leads, can your chatbot actually increase sales? Can it move the needle that matters most to you (or your manager/boss/CEO)?
This reader reached out to discuss this specific topic.
I took the liberty of turning my private answer to this particular reader into the article you are now reading.
Here are eight ways chatbots increase sales, fill up your funnel, and make everyone happy.
Looking for a chatbot to help your sales department and generate revenue? Request a demo from one of our chatbot specialists.
1. Closing sales (autonomously)
I thought I'd cut to the chase.
How do chatbots increase sales? By making sales. Booyah.
In a recent case study, we show how this van leasing company's sales chatbot closed over 500 sales autonomously.
This particular chatbot sits on Facebook Messenger, a full page, and a website widget. It generates leads all day, every day -- and is also capable of taking customers from saying hello to completing their purchase.
It doesn't get much better than this. Except it does, because this is the first out of eight ways chatbots help with sales. Keep readin'.
2. Accelerating the sales cycle
This is really a by-product of everything I'm going to talk about in this article, but it does deserve its own point.
A typical B2B sales cycle can be anywhere between two and 12 months long. As we all know, time is money and closing deals faster is of the utmost importance for most businesses.
Chatbots can help you with that.
When you think of long sales cycles, you most likely think of blockers getting in the way. In my experience, there are three main reasons a sales cycle ends up longer than it should have been.
- Cold-ish lead
- Poor access to information
- Disjointed communication
Like our dear reader put it into her email, leads are 'sort of secondary'. They are (almost) a vanity metric. The proof of that is not all leads are created equal.
Someone may put an enquiry through your website while still being cold/unsold on your service. If that is the case, the only thing you can really do is warm that lead up over time with additional content, nudges, and probes.
Chatbots can help by doing exactly that: supply additional content and nurture leads automatically.
One of our customers' chatbot achieved a 23.7% sales conversion rate within their proof of concept period. That's almost a quarter of enquiries automatically turned into cash -- no human intervention.
How is that possible? Because their chatbot is programmed to educate and inform leads that don't instantly convert. It's there to answer questions, send relevant pieces of content, and try to nudge the lead down the funnel.
This is how chatbots solve cold-ish leads and poor access to information.
To solve the third roadblock, disjointed communication, chatbots make interactions between leads and salespeople incredibly easy.
Nothing is less efficient -- or more frustrating -- than sending a series of back-and-forth emails to schedule a call.
Suppose it takes you and the buyer half a day on average to agree on a meeting time. If your sales cycle typically requires six meetings, you’ll waste lose (sic) three entire days to the task of scheduling.
It's so true it hurts. This is why any sales chatbot worth its salt seamlessly integrates with calendars. Remove that friction, speed up the sales cycle, increase sales.
3. Keeping your funnel topped up
Leads may be (sort of) a vanity metric, at the end of the day, ya still need 'em.
No leads, no sales.
So... more leads... more sales?
My recent guide on generating leads with a chatbot takes you on the very journey of keeping your funnel topped up with juicy leads using this new technology. Please give it a read.
Most of your website visitors will never engage with you. Not even a mere email. They won't even click your CTAs -- the monsters.
This is why a proactive chatbot can really change the game. By offering help, a chatbot can convert otherwise passive visitors into actively engaged leads.
This conversion rate is also higher than you think. A particular chatbot I've worked on earlier this year converts 28.3% of users who talk to it into a lead (5,980 leads generated out of 21,106 unique interactions last month).
You can bet your bottom dollar this helps sales tremendously, feeding more juicy leads into their pipeline.
4. (Smartly) nudging leads
Nudging has become popular in retail.
It is the practice of ever-so-slightly influencing the customer's decision by strategically steering them in the right direction.
There are countless examples of this in physical stores. If you haven't researched it before, I recommend you do (especially if you work in sales/marketing), it's fascinating.
Nudging has taken a slightly different form online than in physical stores. Chances are you've encountered many nudging techniques, such as...
- urgency ('only available today!'),
- social proof ('this person you look up to has purchased my product and she endorses it!'), or,
- scarcity ('only 20 pairs available!').
And so on.
What does that have to do with chatbots?
Nudging is effective on a large scale. When a physical store implements a sign that says 'no more than 12 cans per person' (source) and sees an increase in cans sales, they see this increase because thousands of people see the sign, out of which a subset react the way the store wants them to.
This is great, but with chatbots we can do better.
Chatbots are personal and 1o1. You can implement the same principle on a granular level.
Those 'strategic steers' we were talking about are now exponentially more relevant to the individual experiencing them, thanks to the chatbot's ability to know everything there is to know about that individual and adapt.
At a macro level, chatbots are able to implement nudge techniques at speed, 24/7, and 1o1.
At a micro level, chatbots are able to tailor each nudge to each specific situation.
When done properly, this keeps the funnel active, engaged, and moving in the right direct -- thus resulting in sales.
5. Helpful (and upselling) throughout the journey
I'm particularly fond of this one. And I know for a fact that sales teams love it too.
The customer journey is a long and winding road. Even if you sell relatively simple items, say custom t-shirts, there are still many steps:
- Finding your site.
- Navigating the store.
- Picking the product.
- Picking the size, colour, material.
- Adding to cart.
- Browsing some more.
- Enter card details.
- Delivery notifications.
- Customer after-care.
That is a long journey (in terms of steps) for a typical and simple purchase. Now imagine you are a travel company like TUI. How long (in steps and actual time) is your customer journey?
With every step, you have the potential of losing the sale. Thankfully, your sales chatbot will not let that happen. In fact, it will instead be there to potentially upsell your customer and generate more revenue.
Let's take the journey of purchasing festival tickets. Below is an example of how a chatbot could continuously help the customer throughout their journey, while sparingly encouraging an upsell:
As you can see, there are many opportunities to increase the average sale value.
In turn, there is value delivered to the customer. They learn about interesting upgrades, they get a better festival experience, they get to ask questions and voice concerns.
This is a big win-win for both sides, which produces returning customers.
Read about Rose, the sales chatbot that used these principles to increase hotel return booking by 11% and their average spent by 30%.
6. Keeping the brand consistent
Even something as seemingly innocuous as brand inconsistencies can keep you from closing deals and banking that cash.
Chatbots don't let that happen.
Chatbots are the next branding frontier. By opening a new dimension -- conversational -- at scale, a chatbot forces your business to express your brand in a consistent manner.
Once released, your brand and your chatbot evolve hand in hand. Thanks to its iterative and intelligent nature, it never loses consistency with your brand moving forward.
Your chatbot also never swears, mumbles its words, or goes out of line. It remains consistent with your brand, talking the exact way you'd like your brand to talk 100% of the time.
This all ensures every potential customer gets treated the exact way you'd want them to be treated, encouraging the sale.
7. Being available. All the time.
You know what's cool about chatbots?
Yes, everything. Right.
But, also, they never sleep.
All the advantages I've listed here, all the cool features, all the amazing ways they can help the sales (sometimes by literally making the sale) -- they can do all these things 24/7.
This is not just good for your bottom line, it's also fantastic for your customers. They love being able to access your business whenever they can. We know because we asked them.
Grad the 2017 Chatbot Report for more insights.
A common rebuttal to my sometimes-over-the-top excitement about this is...
'Well, my website is also 24/7. Big deal.'
That's true. Your website is 24/7. But is it conversational and helpful 24/7? Does it nudge the visitors in the right direction, based on their specific circumstances, 24/7?
Most likely not.
8. Doing all this at scale
I've kept the most obvious for last.
Chatbots can do all the above at scale.
I love comparing it to your very best salesperson standing on the floor of your shop. Her conversion rate per 1o1 conversation is really high, she's amazing at her job.
Now imagine this at scale, across thousands upon thousands of conversations per day (and 24/7).
You can quickly see how this technology scales quickly. This is how businesses like the van leasing company I mentioned earlier scale their solution, and their business.
Is your business ready to accelerate? Let's talk sales chatbot.