How conversational marketing is transforming the sales automation process – one customer at a time
As franchise sites increase information density to previously unimaginable levels, it’s now more important than ever to help potential leads to find the information they need quickly. Enter Conversational Marketing, that helpful little chat window that pops up to offer assistance to visitors.
Whether it’s a live chat agent or an AI-driven chatbot on the other side of that pop-up, this interaction marks the first “real time” experience your customer will have with your brand. It’s also a moment that can make or break their experience.
To understand why conversational marketing is so important to both the sales automation process and to franchise lead generation, you have to first think about the sales process and how technology is changing the way buyers make decisions.
Traditional sales funnels are still important, but so is how customers find information
Sometimes, it’s hard for me to avoid falling into an “old way/new way” mode of thinking. The old way of franchise sales was finding a prospect through a web form, sending them a barrage of information, and then scheduling a phone call to walk them through the information you just sent them.
That information – the sales funnel – provided them with an overview of the franchise concept, a breakdown of basic costs, what resources the franchisor made available to franchisees, franchise support options, and so on. During that initial phone call, it was easy for a good salesperson to hone in on the prospect’s most pertinent questions and to craft answers that overcame any objections.
To be clear, all of the information included in a typical sales funnel is still vital to the sales automation process. However, as any seasoned sales pro will tell you, not every lead has the same questions. What’s important to one individual may well be irrelevant to the next.
Unfortunately, too many franchise concepts still rely on a rigid sales funnel with very little interaction other than to lead a potential buyer through every step, whether that step is relevant or not. Ask yourself how many irrelevant steps you’re willing to go through to get to the information you need to decide you want to pursue a purchase. Two? Three? Five?
Conversational marketing is changing the traditional sales funnel by blowing it up completely. Here’s how it works.
Conversational Marketing can transform the sales funnel into a sales driver
In the traditional franchise sales process, it was the sales associate’s job to divine a potential lead’s questions and then provide answers. This interaction took place on trade show floors and over the phone. Today, that initial job falls almost wholly to the brand’s web site through sales automation.
But franchise sites are information-dense, and not all potential buyers want to wade through every detail. They want immediate access to the answers they need to assess their decision.
For some sites, a simple search suffices. However, the cold, impersonal search box doesn’t necessarily provide your visitor with the personal touch they are looking for. Conversational marketing tools like live chat can deliver precisely the information they want when they want it.
Think of conversational marketing like a well-organized card catalog of answers to questions, and your friendly chat representative is the knowledgeable reference librarian, ready to pluck the answer out of the ether. Here’s an example of a conversational marketing exchange on a franchise web site:
Chat Agent: Hello! Welcome to our web site. How can I help you find what you’re looking for?
User: I am wondering how much it costs to open a franchise.
Chat Agent: Great. Happy to help. Here is a breakdown of franchise costs. (LINK)
When the user clicks the link, they’re taken to the appropriate page in the research funnel. Here is where the process gets very interesting: they’re not visiting that page alone. The moment it loads, their friendly chat agent is still there to answer any questions.
Chat Agent: Is this the information you’re looking for?
User: Could you tell me the franchise fee?
Chat Agent: Yes. As you can see, the franchise fee is $49,995
Now that your visitor has the specific answer they’re looking for, they’ll move on to their next question. And then the next, and the next. They’re navigating the research funnel, but they’re doing so on their own terms, with a handy guide down there in the bottom of their browser window.
Conversational marketing means constant access, but it doesn’t mean constant staffing
Few franchises (if any!) could afford to staff a chat function on a web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fortunately, they don’t have to do so thanks to incredible advancements in artificial intelligence systems.
When you hear “chat bot,” you probably think of an anthropomorphized paperclip harping at you to “Click if this is what you’re looking for.” That’s hardly what I’m speaking of today when I say conversational marketing.
With recent technological developments, “chat bots” are almost indistinguishable from an actual person sitting on the other side of the computer. From the user’s perspective, they’re interacting with a person and personality. The best systems even have senses of humor and empathy and can respond to users’ jokes or comments appropriately.
User: I’m having a really hard time finding out how many franchise locations you have.
Chat Agent: I’m so sorry. Let me help you out.
Chat Agent: Here is a list of current locations from our FDD. (LINK)
An interaction as simple as offering an apology and then assistance can transform the potential lead’s experience. Even better, if the chat agent cannot adequately address their question, the agent is prepared to convert them into a sales lead on the spot.
Chat Agent: You know, it might be better if I have one of my sales team reach out to you. Can you give me an email address or phone number where you can be reached?
User: Sure. firstname.lastname@example.org
Chat Agent: Great! I’ll have someone get in touch with you soon. Is there anything else I can do to help?
And just like that, you’re on the phone or emailing with a new lead for your franchise company, all thanks to conversational marketing.
Transform your sales into a buying process
Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of conversational marketing and sales automation is that it transforms your company’s marketing experience from a sales process into a buying process. By shifting focus from your franchise opportunity and to your buyer, you’re meeting them where they are, placing them in the driver’s seat of the process, and guiding them to the information they need.
For something as transformative as this technology can be, it’s remarkably affordable, as well. There is a conversational marketing and sales automation process suitable for franchise concepts of any size.
At Brand Journalists, we’ve employed conversational marketing tools for international franchise brands and new startups alike. In each case, these systems have produced remarkable results.
So whether you’re a small, scrappy upstart with a core team bootstrapping the next big thing in franchising or a household name, transform your sales process into a buying process with conversational marketing. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Want to talk about how to incorporate conversational marketing into your franchise development strategy?
If your franchise opportunity is ready to employ conversational marketing tactics on your development site, Brand Journalists can help. Contact us today to see how we can help you employ quality video production to tell your brand story.