The Sales Team Playbook for Text Messaging - part I

sales sms playbook I

Your sales team is what keeps business coming in. You play a crucial role in an organization’s bottom line, and yet, there are constant hurdles you’re looking to overcome so you can close more deals and bring in even more business.

This is a 4-part guide that will cover:

  1. The state of sales
  2. How to use SMS for sales
  3. Supercharging sales with SMS integrations
  4. Real-world sales teams that are crushing it with SMS software

Today, we’ll dive into the state of sales today and look at some of the biggest obstacles facing the sales organization. 

The state of sales

One of the biggest challenges sales teams face is simply getting the attention of prospects. Nurturing prospects through the sales process can be difficult, too, but if you can’t get their attention and hold it long enough to form a relationship, you don’t have anything to nurture.

You need better ways to cut through the noise and show your prospects that you are here to help them. A good sales team knows how your solution can help them, and you know all the right strategies to let them know that. But sometimes sales calls are ignored and sometimes emails go unread. (Actually most emails go unread—about 80 percent of them.)

You need another way to reach prospects that can up the impact of your sales comms. 

Reimagine sales communications

One way you can cut through the noise and make sure your sales message is seen is to simply find the method of communication that works best for your prospects. A sales call is sometimes just what you need, but it’s not always the way your prospects want to communicate with you. You may find yourself getting voicemail often from a prospect who is too busy or too uninterested to have a phone conversation with you. 

Email is also effective in some cases, but it can be slow and agonizing to wait for a response that may never come (if your email is ever even read). 

What you need is a third way to communicate—a way that meets prospects halfway. You need a channel that lets you get in touch immediately, knowing with almost absolute certainty that your message will be seen, and having a pretty good chance that you’ll get a response. 

If your message is seen, you have a foot in the door. You’ll be able to get their attention for a few moments. Sometimes, it’s all you need. If you get a response to your message, your foothold gets even stronger, and you can actually start a conversation with the prospect. You can begin to build the relationship.

If you’re only relying on voicemails that go unanswered or emails that seem to disappear into the abyss, you won’t stand out, let alone get their attention. You’ll be drowned out by the noise instead of swimming above it.

Text messaging is a third way that reimagines what it means to get in touch with sales prospects. Text messages have a near perfect open rate, about 98 percent, which means you can pretty much count on catching the attention of your prospects if you send them a text.

Manage multiple relationships

Only once you snag their attention can you move onto your next job, which is to show them how you can help them. 

This is where your talents as a salesperson can shine. You have someone’s attention, now it’s up to you to keep it. That requires deep, empathetic listening and the ability to help the prospect navigate through their own pains until ultimately, they see how well what you have to offer can meet their needs. 

Yes, you’re a sales rep, or maybe even a sales leader, but your job is ultimately to turn prospects into customers by showing how what you have to offer helps them in some significant way. By nature of the process, you can sometimes be responsible for guiding them through their own pain points and uncovering their needs. 

All this has to be done tactfully and with patience. And, it has to be done without putting all your efforts into one prospect. You have lots of other leads to manage, and you can’t afford to focus everything you have on one.

Choosing the right communication channel can’t help you approach your sales in the best way, but it can help you easily manage all your prospects in one place. Chances are, you’re not just pursuing one potential customer but multiple prospects at once. 

Let’s face it, the more prospects you can manage at one time, the more business you could potentially secure. But, when you’ve got lots of customers, it can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of work required. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow grow your prospects list, and bring in more deals, without losing your mind or sacrificing the impact of your sales message? 

You need a way to manage customer relationships at scale. This is where a communication channel like SMS comes into play. Imagine the time it takes you to play phone tag with a prospect. Now, imagine you send them a text instead. You send out your message instantly, getting their attention and letting them know what they need to know in one instantaneous way. 

You have a 98 percent chance that they’ll read your message and a 45 percent chance they’ll respond. Nine out of ten people will read a text within the first three minutes, though it takes an average of just 90 seconds to get a response to a text message. Email, on the other hand, is agonizingly slow by comparison: a whopping average of 90 minutes to get an email response, and that’s if you get one at all. (The response rate for email is a comparatively abysmal 6 percent.)

With this speed, you can juggle multiple prospects without wasting time leaving voicemails, waiting for email responses or dealing with missed calls. You can count on a quick response almost half of the time, and then you can either escalate the prospect or move onto the next. Either way, using a quick and convenient channel like text to reach prospects gives you more time and space to scale your sales list without worrying about overwhelm.

The thinking is, you don’t just want to manage more prospects. You want to close more deals. In this case, speed matters. 

Efficiency matters. 

The faster you can close a deal, the sooner you can work on closing the next one. Now, think about all those hours wasted on waiting and imagine if you could cut the wait time substantially. You could know which deals aren’t going to happen and which are so much faster, which means you’d be able to focus your energy and time in the most efficient way. 

Even if half of your leads get back to you within two minutes of your message, that’s 50 percent of your prospects one step closer to closing a deal with you. And it took minutes, not hours, not days, not weeks. That level of efficient sales can help you close deals faster so you can move right on to the next. 

SMS isn’t going to make you a more talented salesperson, but it can give you the tools to speed up the process and make you a more productive salesperson. That’s where the money is. 

Consider the whole customer lifecycle

One you close deals, today’s sales team isn’t done. It’s a combined effort to manage customer relationships, but sales teams are often responsible for the upsell and cross sell tactics that bring in more value per customer. 

Text messages can help improve the upsell in a few different ways. First, they can reach the customer faster and with more efficiency, which is great for a sales team with multiple customers to manage. Also, using SMS to upsell has the added benefit of re-humanizing your business without making it inconvenient for the customer. 

You might not be able to reach busy customers as effectively with phone or email, but making a personal connection via text could be the ideal way to remind them about your relationship. Texts don’t expect too much, either. They’re not like phone calls that can be confrontational and are easy to ignore. 

Texts can be informal yet personal. They can get a customer’s attention faster and better, while still getting your message across. Just like new business, upsells can happen faster with SMS.

Give customers what they want

We’ve mentioned email and phone calls a number of times already, and it’s important to know that each of these means of communication do have their place in today’s sales environment.

However, any sales that are being done today are being done with a modern audience. Yes, millennials actually think phone calls are a waste of their time. But it’s not just millennials. Actually, 69 percent of people of all ages say they’d rather get a text than a call from a company they don’t know. (You won’t likely be texting customers who don’t know you, but this is a good representation of the idea that demographics aren’t much of a barrier when it comes to SMS.) 

Today’s audience—no matter what their age—is more than likely using text messaging to communicate in their life. SMS is the globally preferred method of communication for personal conversations. 

It’s a no-brainer that people find this channel convenient and effective. Lots of people prefer texting to calls and emails. Seventy-five percent of consumers say they prefer texts to ads, and 63 percent of consumers say they’d switch to a company that offered text messaging as a communication channel. 

Consumers want to interact with the brands they do business with via text. And it makes sense: SMS is incredibly convenient, fast, and low pressure. Customers and prospects can get back to you on their own time. 

Because it’s an expected mode of communication, the businesses that start using text messaging to enhance their sales process are the ones that will pull ahead right now. It’s an unsaturated channel at the moment, which means people aren’t being inundated with texts from salespeople and your message will stand out. 

More than that, it’s a channel that gives customers what they want, and if you’re not willing to include SMS in your sales comm channels, you’re likely to get left behind.