Sms Messages: Improving Your Sales Cycle And Productivity
Improving the Sales Cycle with SMS Messages
When it comes to sales cycles, faster is usually better and more efficient. After all, a shorter sales journey means sellers use fewer resources before locking down a deal. For the buyer, it means they get to solve their problems earlier and enjoy their purchase sooner. Fast-tracking the sales process usually involves better communication methods—which is where SMS messages can help.
Why Shorter Sales Cycles Are Better
Why is it necessary to speed up the sales process, anyway? For many buyers, time is of the essence. That’s why providing immediate feedback to a customer inquiry increases the chances of closing a deal. Customers with urgent requirements who can’t get ahold of the seller will often leave their contact information; however, the lack of immediate feedback or even a satisfactory answer might make them turn to other sellers instead.
To be clear, improving the sales cycle isn’t just about doing things faster. It also means doing things right the first time. Think about how many sales conversations just go back and forth due to the sales representative being unable to answer a client’s question or objection. While it’s commendable for salespeople to say “I’ll have to get back to you on this matter,” it’s even better if they already have the answer upfront.
For the sales cycle to improve, the period between prospecting and closing the deal should be as short as possible. However, it’s more than just speed. Salespeople will need to establish a clear line of communication to provide clear answers. Information, while necessary, is not the only requirement. You should also look at ways to make your sales team more available to answer questions and provide answers through channels like Short Messaging Service (SMS). Engaging customers via SMS messages makes it easier and faster for both parties to ask questions and provide answers.
Shortening the Sales Cycle via SMS Messages
A typical sales cycle consists of three stages: sales discovery, sales purchase, and post-sales account management. They cover all aspects of the sales journey, beginning with qualifying and nurturing leads up to providing post-sales services to keep customers from churning. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three stages.
The sales discovery stage involves the search for a solutions provider. This is the period when buyers take stock of their available options. While they know exactly what their problem is and what their pain points are, they would like to know what solutions are out there. Through sales discovery, they can communicate their needs to sellers to see if their solutions match their needs.
The sales purchase stage covers the detailed negotiation over the purchase. Together, both parties will go over details such as onboarding, payment terms, service agreements, warranties, and others.
Post-Sales Account Management
Closing the sale isn’t the final stage of the sales journey. Sellers must provide the necessary after-sales service, including troubleshooting and repairs. The sales representative will also be on hand to assist if the buyer requires additional purchases, restocking, or even upgrading.
Communicating via SMS Messages Throughout the Sales Journey
Communication is paramount throughout these three stages. While today’s buyers prefer conducting their own research before deciding on a supplier, it doesn't mean they don’t have additional questions. Still, the sales journey sometimes takes a detour along the way, so the sales representative should always be on hand to guide the buyer or steer them back in the right direction.
SMS messages provide a quick and easy way to communicate throughout the sales journey. Unlike chat-based messaging, SMS works under a phone carrier’s signal, and thus it not require an internet connection. Unlike phone calls, text messaging allows senders to craft their messages carefully before they send them out.
Other advantages of SMS messaging include:
- Popularity: As of 2023, more than nine out of ten people worldwide have a mobile phone. Even without an internet connection, mobile phones can send and receive SMS messages.
- Legibility: The thread layout makes it easy for users to follow the conversation.
- Archiving capability: Messages can be stored for documentation purposes, especially since they include a timestamp. Some SMS systems can also issue read receipts.
- Speed: Sending and receiving messages is instantaneous. Unless one party is located in an area with weak signal coverage, there is virtually no delay in SMS message transmission.
- Personal reach: While there are applications that can send a single message to mass recipients, SMS messages are great for one-on-one communication.
Discovery: Engaging New Prospects
The first stage of the sales journey involves reaching out to prospects and qualifying leads. SMS messages can be a great way to start a conversation without being too intrusive or demanding.
Opting In is Important
Of course, sellers should always ensure that recipients give their permission before engaging them in a conversation thread. The first SMS message should focus on asking for permission to continue the conversation. If a customer responds positively, sellers can consider it not just as permission but also as a lead qualifier.
Start the SMS sales journey with a confirmation of the lead’s permission to engage in conversation:
“Hello, (name)! This is (company name) and we’d like to thank you for subscribing to our customer service hotline! With your permission, we’d be very happy to talk to you over SMS about your question.”
Always attach a call-to-action (CTA) message at the end. It could be as simple as asking them to reply “Yes” or to visit a website. Only continue the conversation the client responds positively.
Engage Clients in Drip Campaigns
Drip campaigns are messages that provide customers with continuous value. Instead of directly asking them to buy a product, drip messaging allows customers to realize the value of your subscription programs and encourage them to take advantage.
An example of this would be an initial welcome message including a token of appreciation, like a discount voucher or a welcome gift. Sellers can sustain this campaign by offering a walkthrough of the program, customer service assistance, or special occasion offers.
Send SMS Messages When Customer Trigger Events
When customers reach a certain threshold, such as prolonged absence, membership expiration, or abandoned carts, you can set your system to automatically send SMS messages to bring them back to active status. It can be a friendly reminder to renew their membership, a surprise token or discount to reconsider, or a limited promotion announcement.
When responding to customer triggers, make sure to verify details such as their subscription/membership status or purchase history. Customers with active memberships might it annoying to receive messages asking them to renew. Similarly, those who already unsubscribed might not like the idea of still getting messages.
Evaluation: Converting That Prospect
During the conversion stage, sellers should apply a different approach to messaging, rather than continuously blasting them with product offers and sale announcements. Whatever message you do decide to send, bear in mind the following helpful suggestions:
Personalize the Message
Placing your customer’s name at the forefront conveys a personal touch. It assures the recipient that the message is tailored to what they’re looking for when they subscribed to the message list. At the least, the reader knows that if the sender bothered to include their name, the message isn’t entirely a generic one everybody else got.
Another part of effective SMS communication is making conversation rather than announcements. Remember that humans are on the receiving end of the messages you send out. Talk to them, not at them!
For instance, instead of sending out a blank invite for a “New Products Out this Friday!”, why not craft personalized messages that cater to a customer’s specific needs? Consider:
“Hello, (name)! We know you’re on the lookout for (shopping cart wishlist items), so you may want to come and join us on (date) as we launch our newest products!’
Add a CTA
As always, add a CTA so that you know if your message managed to connect with your recipients. When doing so, perhaps add a little incentive to encourage them such as an early-bird rate or a free item for claiming during the event.
Post-Sale: Following Up After Closing The Deal
Contrary to popular belief, closing the deal is not the end state of every transaction. In all actuality, signing a deal signifies the start of a business relationship as there is more to customer service than just handing over a purchased item. This includes procedures such as after-sales servicing, maintenance, warranties, and even upgrades. Furthermore, sales teams should never discount the possibility of upsells, cross-sells, and restocks. That’s why it’s important for sellers to continue the conversation.
Below are some of the few topics to keep the conversation alive with post-sale customers:
Sending maintenance reminders way ahead of schedule is a great way to show your concern. Instead of texting them that their product is due for maintenance on a certain date, why not make it easier for them by adding a CTA?
“Hello (name). We noticed that your (product) is approaching its time for maintenance. We have pre-booked the date of (date) for your convenience. You can confirm this by replying “Yes.” Alternatively, you can provide us with your preferred schedule instead.”
A similar note can be applied to clients of consumable items or supplies. Send a gentle reminder that if their supplies are about to run out, you will be happy to assist them in reordering.
For clients who send notice that they do not plan on renewing their contract or will stop reordering, a simple message with a conciliatory tone might help them reconsider.
“We’re sorry to hear that you have decided not to renew. May we know the reason why? If you are having second thoughts, here’s a free/discounted (subscription/restock). We’ll be happy to sit down with you and talk about improving our service.”
Keeping communication lines open to further discussion can dissuade a customer from totally cutting ties. They might skip a season but when they realize that your company is far easier to deal with (even if based on SMS messages alone), they might have a change of heart and go back.
6 Ways to Incorporate SMS Messages Into Sales
You shouldn’t just send SMS messages to customers haphazardly. There are certain social graces to observe; customers who opt-in to SMS lists remain wary of attempts by sellers to flood their inboxes with a barrage of messages. This can lead to customers abandoning a company and ditching their subscriptions.
Instead of needlessly sending out a hail of SMS messages for every update, carefully plan out your SMS marketing strategy. The plan should include segmenting recipients so that every customer receives only the information that they want. In most cases, the effectiveness of SMS messages depends on keeping content relevant and highly useful to recipients.
Lumping all of your customers into one subscription list can potentially lead to many members unsubscribing immediately. To avoid this, only send personalized messages based on a customer’s profile and their current stage in the sales journey:
- Prospects/leads should get nurturing or push messages
- Customers receive regular event messages and announcements
- Those with trigger events (those nearing end of service/contract/stock) receive renewal notices
- Customers who applied for service termination and have abandoned carts receive messages asking for reconsideration
Below you’ll find some of the more effective ways to incorporate SMS messages into your sales team’s efforts to engage. Again, exercise your utmost discretion when choosing the recipients for each message.
Reach Out to Cold Leads
Personalizing a cold lead might be difficult considering you have yet to establish any sort of relationship. After all, it would be too forthcoming for you to assume a friendly role and start calling them on a first-name basis. If you do so, the recipient might get suspicious that you know their names and can immediately flag you as spam. Instead, adopt a friendly but non-assuming tone to make them believe you’ve met before. A simple introduction of
“Hello there. It seems you submitted your information to learn more about (generic products). Please reply with YES to continue this conversation.”
A lack of a reply should be more than enough cue for you to disqualify this prospect. Only if they reply positively should you proceed to introduce yourself properly.
Moreover, don’t overdo cold messaging. Try not to send more than three messages if you don't receive any initial replies. Recipients are more likely to ignore a cold message rather than report it as spam immediately if you don’t flood them with too many messages at once.
Promote Flash Offers
By definition, flash sale promotions happen for a limited time. They spring up almost immediately and have a tight window, which means customers who want to take up the offer should act immediately. When sending SMS messages announcing a flash sale, take the time to compose a short but very impactful message. Keep in mind the following elements when composing a flash sale message:
- Keep your message within a 160-character word count. This helps you get to the point and avoid confusion.
- Place the words “FLASH SALE” and state the window period clearly at the start.
- Add the flash sale details. Will the sale give out a discount? Or will it be a promotion like “Buy One, Take One?”
- Don’t forget to include the flash sale code. Without this code, your online store might have difficulty applying the flash sale perk to qualified orders.
- Add a CTA to make customers feel the urgency!
For example, this is a 158-character message that fits a single SMS message:
“FLASH SALE TODAY ONLY! Feb 20, 2023, GMT 00:00 to GMT 02:00! Get a 20% discount on all items when you enter the code FLASHSALE022023 during checkout. Buy Now!”
Send Order Confirmation and Updates
Confirming orders and sending updates on the order fulfillment status are keys to a great customer experience. At the least, receiving a confirmation SMS from a vendor upon placing an order means that the transaction proceeded as planned.
In addition, receiving delivery updates can also help prevent your customers from experiencing anxiety over their orders. At the same time, automated updates remove the need for customers to continually call customer service to check on their item’s whereabouts. For companies that maintain a customer service hotline, SMS updates can save a lot on support calls.
Nurturing Loyal Customers
Loyal customers deserve a nudge of gratitude every now and then. After all, keeping existing customers happy saves your company from spending to attract new customers. In addition, loyal customers also increase your bottom line due to repeat orders. Clients like these should always be the first to know about new promotions, flash sale announcements, or markdown sales.
When sending messages to loyal customers, make sure to personalize content. This helps convey the message that the company has a personal stake in connecting with them. Personalization helps in catching customers’ attention whenever you send reminders, offers, and feedback requests. In addition, sending a message to check in on customers (based on triggers when they haven’t ordered in a while) can also help convince them that it may be time for another visit.
“Hey (name)! We haven’t seen you in a bit, so we wanted to check in on you! And since you’ve been a great customer all this time, here’s a (discount/promo code) to help you on your next visit! See you soon!”
Provide Customer Service
Of course, not all transactions are going to go as smoothly as you’d like. In cases where the order fulfillment process was less than satisfactory, reaching out to customers via SMS messages can help reduce the negativity.
Integrating the customer service hotline number with the SMS service can help make it easier for customers to send SMS messages to customer support. Instead of making them wait until a customer service agent is available to answer a call, why not offer customer support via SMS?
Use for a Strong Call-to-Action
SMS messages are a great way to send a strong call to action to your sales activities. With a 98% open rate, customers are more likely to open and read an SMS message compared to emails, voice calls, or even chat messages. So, if you’re going to deliver your most powerful, convincing message, you might as well do it via SMS.
The initial CTA should always be the one where you ask recipients to accept your messages:
“To continue receiving messages from us, please reply YES. Otherwise text STOP.”
Once you receive a positive response, you can now send SMS messages that contain CTA such as:
- Do you want to know more? Learn more at (weblink).
- Shop now by clicking (store link).
- Enter (promo code) when checking out (store link).
- Join the members-only community by clicking (club link).
- Show this text to get a (free promo item/discount) when you visit our store.
Make SMS Messages Work for You, But Let Landline Remover Clean Up Your List First
SMS messages can set your marketing campaign up for success. But in order to maximize your potential, you’ve also got to update your directory listing and remove landline numbers. Landline phones aren’t designed to receive text messages at all, and so your efforts to reach them will be wasted—and costly. Not removing these landline numbers from your automated SMS contacts list can cause your SMS bills to skyrocket, while your success rates plummet.
Lucky for you, Landline Remover can help! Landline Remover can scour your entire directory and identify all recorded landline numbers in just seconds. This allows you to purge them from your list. The site also correctly identifies numbers registered in the DNC (Do Not Call) list, so you can avoid sending messages and getting penalized.
We’ll even run your first 1,000 phone numbers free! Even better, we only charge a fixed rate to check your phone directory—no tiered pricing, no hefty plans, and no gimmicks. Sign up now and let Landline Remover clean up your directory before you engage in SMS marketing. Visit us at landlineremover.com today!