Do you know how to chat?

Randi Alterman in chat

So why is online texting, in other words chat, so different?

Many sales teams have difficulty with chatting.  I’m the champion for chat at GE Digital.  Our sales team, like many other sales teams, were concerned with chatting:

What if I don’t know the answer?
How do I disengage if someone is not a potential lead?
How can I make sure I don’t misrepresent the firm?

Bottom line: online chat does represent your company and chatters do need to stay within your brand voice.  That said, chatting can still be friendly, simple and incredibly powerful to accelerate your sales cycle.

Let’s establish some simple guidelines:

icon chat bot from Drift

The chatbot widget used by  GE’s chat platform, Drift

Be yourself but live within the brand.

Make sure your chatters understand your brand voice.  Our brand voice is courageous, optimistic, purposeful and engaging.  We are a culture of innovators and experimenters.  We aren’t cutsie or folksy. Our chatters need to be friendly and courteous and engage in discussions that provide value to potential customers.  Guide your chatters in your brand voice.

icon iceberg

Use icebreakers and be personal.

Greet your visitors. Tell them your name.  The idea is to begin a conversation, not start a lecture. Hi. I’m Randi from GE.  How can I help?

icon chatting

Use your chat bot wisely.

Most chat platforms come with an automated bot. This is a powerful tool and can be a fantastic time saver if used correctly.  Make sure your visitors know they are chatting with a bot. Bots can ask basic questions and qualify visitors, providing immediate assistance.  Our bot always asks if someone needs technical support.  If the answer is yes, the bot responds with the email, phone, and self-help website of our support team. Visitors get the immediate answer they were looking for and our Sales team is not interrupted.

icon, no chatting

Don’t be afraid to interrupt a bot.

OK, I’ll admit it.  I personify my interactions with computers. I say please and thank you to Alexa and ask Siri nicely for directions. But, a bot is a bot.  If you notice someone from a key account is chatting with your chat bot, interrupt!  I was chatting recently with a bot from Drift, the company that we use for chat.  Drift chatters noticed.  My bot conversation was wisely interrupted.  Human here. Nick chatting. Need help?  

Ask permission and ask questions.

Your goal is to provide value to your visitor. Your visitor is chatting for a reason.  They don’t want a sales pitch, they want someone who can answer their questions or provide insight. If you need some information to better guide the chat, just ask.  May I ask a few questions to better understand what you are looking for?

icon chat to sales

Let the customer chat.

I’m not a shy person and I’ve been known to take over a conversation, just once or twice J. As hard as it may be, as well as your sales team knows their message points, everyone needs to take a breath. Stop typing.  Let your visitor lead.  Listening is an art, whether in-person or online.

icon no questions

Don’t answer questions you don’t know how to answer.

Have a chat about a product you don’t manage, tell the visitor. I know our manufacturing software products inside and out, but I’m going to ask a colleague to help answer that question about our cyber security software.  Hold on! 

icon no questions

Don’t answer questions that are not yours to answer.

If a visitor begins to ask questions about your company’s annual report, latest financials or business operations beyond your scope, redirect.  Provide some prewritten answers for your chat team.  I’m sure our investor relations department could answer those questions. Here’s a link to their webpage with their contact information.

icon chatting

If the visitor wants to end the conversation, do so graciously.

Remember the goal of the chat was to provide value to the visitor. Is there a white paper or blog link that can provide them with some additional information?  This may remind them to come back to your website. Always close with a friendly goodbye. Let me know if you have any other questions.  We’re here to help!

Tired of typing?

If you’ve established a good rapport and feel your product can provide value to the visitor, go for the close.  Set up that appointment or ask for a meeting.  This is business after all. 

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