Six ways to use SMS when texting leads (without being creepy)

by Steli Efti
sms-texting-sales-leads.jpg

The year is 2018 and millennials are dominating the workforce.

According to Pew Research Center, millennials have officially surpassed Gen Xers as the most prominently represented generation in the modern workforce, with 53.5 million people. In the years to come, more and more of these millennials will be stepping into decision-making positions.

Since 68% of millennials admit to texting “a lot” (take that how you may) on a daily basis, compared to just 47% of Gen Xers, we firmly believe SMS is going to become a staple of the sales process. If millennials are calling the shots, it only makes sense to use their preferred communication channels.

Even though millennials are spending a lot of their time texting, they haven’t completely abandoned email. Given that, why bother texting leads when traditional communication methods like email have successfully yielded results for years?

Simple:

SMS creates a personal connection that email cannot.

Since the majority of modern conversations happen through text, people are getting used to building relationships—personal and professional—through the messaging app on their phone.

Prospects are comfortable having real conversations through SMS. Moving the sales conversation from their email inbox to their texting inbox will only deepen the connection you’re building.

Nowadays, the main question isn’t whether you should be using SMS but how you should be using SMS to maximize its potential and avoid sounding like a creepy salesperson. In this post we’ll highlight six ways you can effectively use text messaging to nurture leads and close more sales.

Let’s get started.

1. Don’t send a text the second they opt in

Nobody wants to get an unsolicited text from someone they don’t really know.

If a lead just gave you their number through an opt-in form, a relationship hasn’t been established yet. They’re not going to expect (or want) an immediate text from you.

The best plan of attack is scheduling a call or shooting a few emails back and forth before you jump in with a text. The key is to establish a relationship first, then start dabbling in the world of text.

2. Ask for quick & simple answers

One of the best reasons to use SMS messaging for communicating with leads is to get answers much more quickly than you would by phone or email.

The 2017 State of SMS report estimates that 7 billion text messages will be sent this year, and 90 percent of them will be read within three minutes.

Since text messages are short and sweet, they’re a great medium to send along quick questions you’re looking for quick answers to. More often than not, your texts will be read within minutes—if you can keep it concise, you’ll have an answer within minutes as well.

3. Use SMS as a unique way to follow up

We’re firm believers that the follow-up is one of the most important elements of the selling process. After you fire off an email looking for an approval or confirmation, a short follow-up by text could be the perfect nudge to get your prospect to take a look. Remember, since 90 percent of text messages are read within a few minutes, there’s a good chance your SMS follow-up will be seen right away and prompt your prospect to answer.

Your message shouldn’t be an essay. Something simple like this could work:

Hey John/Jane - Just want to make sure you saw the email I sent with my schedule.

Since all you’re trying to do is give them a quick nudge, the shorter your text, the more likely they are to act on it. Simplicity is key.

4. Use a voice & tone that fit the conversation

One thing to keep in mind when using text messaging as a sales tool is the context of the conversation, and the voice and tone that fit that context. When we interviewed HouseCall Pro, who increased their close rate by 15 percent using SMS, they shared their approach to finding the right voice and tone:

“It’s important to have a different text voice that matches your use of SMS. If you are doing demo confirmation and ‘transactional’ texts, then keep it professional and to the point. If you are using it for post-demo follow up and you’ve built up rapport with the Customer, then feel free to text more like you would with friends.”

The last thing you want to do is spoil the relationship—and the sale—by appearing unprofessional. Just because texting is the same medium you use to joke around with friends doesn’t mean your conversations with a lead should take the same tone—at least not at first.

5. Understand when it’s time to take a step back

The most important factor of all is recognizing when enough is enough. If you’re not getting responses to your texts, that’s not a green light to keep pushing and pushing. In our interview with HouseCall Pro, they emphasized the need to be mindful of signals from your prospect:

“If you send a couple texts with no reply, stop - it’s a very powerful way to reach out, but with great power comes great responsibility.”

Don’t be the creepy salesperson who won’t stop texting even when a prospect clearly does not want to text back. Some leads may love SMS. Others may absolutely hate it. Take the hint, or you’ll risk blowing the deal before it even materializes.

6. Manage & measure your SMS efforts in your CRM

Years ago when SMS messaging was on the rise, sales teams shied away from using it. Some of that reluctance was simply a fear of experimenting with something new, but it was also due to a lack of trackable data. As texting was taking off, CRMs weren’t built to track interactions happening through SMS.

Luckily, that’s become a thing of the past.

Our SMS integration in Close.io is as straightforward as our built-in calling and emailing integrations. You can send an SMS with one click to any SMS-enabled number within the U.S. or Canada using your existing phone number. Incoming SMS messages show up in your Close.io Inbox and activity feed just like new emails, tasks, and missed calls.

Here’s what it looks like when you work with it:

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Now over to you

As millennials start to dominate the workforce, it’s time to shift common sales practices to favor their preferences. If millennials are spending a lot of their time texting, the best bet for salespeople is to take the sales conversation to text message. The key is making sure you’re doing it in a way that sets you up for success, while avoiding the creepy salesperson label.

Here’s a quick recap of six strategies for using SMS to talk to leads:

  1. Don’t send a text the second they opt in
  2. Ask for quick & simple answers
  3. Use SMS as a unique way to follow up
  4. Use a voice & tone that fit the conversation
  5. Understand when it’s time to take a step back
  6. Manage & measure your SMS efforts in your CRM

What are your thoughts? Have you already started leveraging the power of text messaging in your lead nurturing processes, or are you still skeptical? Drop a comment below with your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.

Want even more actionable advice on how to engage prospects in the conversation and move the sale forward? Download your free copy of The Follow-Up Formula today.

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