Live Chat Streamlines Sales and Support Processes for Industrial Sector
Chat forges new opportunities in industries with complex product offerings
The manufacturing industry is booming. A 2016 report by the National Association of Manufacturers estimated that the manufacturing industry contributed $2.18 trillion to the United States economy and accounted for nearly 12 percent of the economy’s GDP. Manufacturing and related verticals such as machinery and distribution are all defined by complex product offerings, and therefore face unique challenges when it comes to lead acquisition and conversion.
Whereas traditional sales processes in this segment have been primarily driven by field sales and word of mouth, more and more buyers are turning to online channels in the awareness and research phases of their buying cycle. The business website is often the first impression and opportunity for engagement with potential buyers, making it a crucial tool for lead capture and conversion efforts. Industrial-focused businesses can use live chat to proactively engage website visitors with personalized messaging to capitalize on prospective buyers at their peak level of interest (before buyers turn their focus to competing, alternative solutions).
Companies including Motion & Flow Control Products and Riegl USA have already experienced profound results after implementing live chat into their sales and support workflows and view chat as a differentiating factor among their competition.
Amplified sales; impressive ROI
When Riegl USA decided to incorporate chat into their overarching sales strategy, they were experiencing delays in their sales pipeline, and as a result, both customers (and their own sales and engineering teams) were frustrated. They needed to streamline their sales processes and turned to chat software.
What they experienced next cemented their purchasing decision. Jillian Kreider, Communications Specialist at Riegl, recalls that during their free trial of SnapEngage, they engaged with an interested prospect via a live chat conversation who needed a scanning device made right away. Two weeks later (in a company that has an average sales cycle of 6 months to three years), the $110K deal had closed. Their new chat software had just paid for itself many times over within the first three weeks of use, and Jillian and her CMO were sold.
“[SnapEngage] paid for itself in the very first sale.”
-Jillian Kreider, Communications Specialist
Live chat builds relationships (and reduces acquisition cost)
In a well-established industry that often relies on a time-honored, more traditional approach to sales, live chat offers up a refreshing solution that keeps the focus on building customer relationships. Products across the industry generally cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars each, so it’s understandable that trust, transparency, and the quality of customer interactions play a huge role in buying decisions.
Manufacturers attempting to sell their products used to rely primarily on word of mouth recommendations and face-to-face interactions with prospective buyers at trade shows and onsite visits to build deeper connections and instill trust. While a handshake and a smile still closes many manufacturing deals today, vendors have discovered that a quality conversation over live chat can offer the same, immediate human connection that buyers crave without the associated costs of traditional sales approaches.
This cost reduction can give organizations the flexibility to put more dollars towards improving their product offering and funding additional growth strategies and other company initiatives.
Shortened sales cycles drive revenue
Typically, the more complex the product, the longer the sales cycle. Organizations that adopt live chat can reduce delays between steps in the buying process and streamline efforts across every customer touchpoint.
Nine months ago, Peter Grimes (Marketing & Operations at Motion & Flow Control Products) decided to implement live chat for the first time in hopes of reducing the sales cycle. “We saw value in reducing sales interactions from two steps down to one. Previously we relied on customers to find a phone number, email, or physical location on the website, resulting in a back-and-forth communication with delays at each step. Chat got the whole thing done in one fell swoop.”
“We saw value in reducing sales interactions from two steps down to one […] Chat got the whole thing done in one fell swoop.”
-Peter Grimes, Marketing & Operations
Indeed, these efficiencies contributed to a shorter sales cycle, with Grimes noting that an average sales cycle for chat is just 7-10 days, in contrast to field sales cycles that can take anywhere from 8 weeks to over one year to close.
Organizations can further optimize their workflows and maximize incoming leads by integrating chat with CRMs and help desks such as Salesforce. Native integrations allow sales consultants to send data from chat conversations directly to their preferred CRM for seamless follow-up and pipeline management. This ensures that interested prospects receive swift follow-up, and that deals don’t accidentally slip through the cracks.
Vendors using chat have also been able to supplement their cold-calling efforts with live chat. In the past, businesses in the industrial/manufacturing sector have relied on cold-calling as one of their primary outbound marketing and sales strategies. While this is still a viable strategy, organizations have discovered that live chat complements cold-calling efforts and maximizes reach. Instead of spending all their time pursuing leads who may or may not be interested in purchasing (or even hearing about the product), sales teams can use services like proactive chat to efficiently and automatically drive engagement with interested website visitors. This frees up time for sales consultants to focus more of their efforts on inbound opportunities and engage with the most qualified buyers.
Chat strengthens support workflows
After a deal closes, organizations continue to receive immense benefits from live chat, particularly in their aim to provide quality customer support. Riegl and Motion & Flow Control have both experienced reduced call and email volumes since implementing SnapEngage. In fact, M&FC is considering transitioning away from phone support entirely in favor of chat support. Increased efficiencies throughout support processes positively impact CSAT metrics, as customers have the ability to receive quality, instant assistance with the simple click of a button. Additionally, this assistance can be provided to multiple customers at once via chat conversations, which reduces the cost-per-interaction and further streamlines support team workflows.