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5 Steps to turn a question into a sale

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good" is a paradigm made popular by Gordon Gekko in the Wall Street film franchise, and often translated in business terms to simply mean "GIVE ME MORE".


In business, does that mean more leads, more inbound, more outbound, more questions, more customer satisfaction or more sales? I would hazard a guess that in most organisations, "more sales" would definitely be a good answer. But sales start with an enquiry, and according to Forbes Magazine, inbound leads are better than outbound leads; so I'd like to share our experience of how you can turn those into a sale.

Potential customers contacting and making an enquiry of your organisation do so for many reasons, but typically the dialogue will start with a question. How you respond will dictate your success (or failure) – in whatever terms or KPIs you choose to measure it.

At AMO, we are experts in automation. We focus our attention on automating in areas of high cost and where success brings high value to the organisation. Sales is where the biggest impacts can be had, so we are predominantly focussed in automating sales for clients. Since we specialise in delivering the automation aspects (using live chat technology), we would claim to know a fair bit about the questions and the opportunities that these types of interaction can bring to your organisation.

Our approach is grounded on research which shows that there are five clear steps to successful conversion of a question to a sale.

Step 1 : Engage

Simply put, prevent the visitor from "bouncing away" from your organisation. There are three critical factors: Speed, Relevance and Competence.

By responding quickly you avoid the risks of being slow. We can debate what fast means – chat vendors quote eight seconds for first response. We take a different view. Do it now – respond immediately. In this way you cut any risks to the absolute minimum.

Relevance is important because it avoids doubt. It signals that the customer is in the right place. This is easier than it sounds, just turn it around – you already know what makes for a qualified customer. That provides your guide to demonstrate relevance.

Finally, show competence. This may not be as hard as it seems – as long as you are in fact competent! What you ask is a great way of showing knowledge and understanding.

Successfully completing step one means the customer concludes they have reached a contact that is:

  • Available and ready to help
  • Skilled and knowledgeable
  • Empowered to act

In other words: the contact has the right person at the right company.

Step 2: Orient

To move forward we need to understand what the visitor is seeking to achieve. Easy huh – they just asked you a question. Wrong! A visitor that is sufficiently Knowledgeable and Confident would have served themselves.

You need to establish two things. Firstly what is the exact subject of help required, and secondly at what level should you converse.

To navigate this step successfully you need to find some firm ground. In our experience the most reliable platform on which to build a conversation with a visitor is ask what they want to achieve with your product rather than what they say they want to buy.

Key to correct orientation is being versed in what your products are typically used for, expressed in customer language.

In other words: understand the customer objective.

Step 3: Establish direction of the dialogue

In our conversations on automation, we hear much about Natural Language Processing. It is promoted as being an easier interface for customers – to use their own words. We disagree. Those that could pick the right words don’t look for or need help. Those that use the wrong words, actually do need help. Process the words as much as you want with NLP – they are still wrong!

We believe that asking questions is the way forwards. This is a classic method of both gathering information and guiding the conversation.

We also see that offering options or prompts makes life much easier and makes dialogue flow faster – point and click not think and type; especially in this age of mobile devices with ever shrinking keyboards.

For these reasons we advocate taking control of the situation with a well judged question and some suitable suggested answers to guide the response.

In other words: put down the rails to get the conversation on track.

Step 4: Bring expertise

The aim is to resolve what the customer wishes to achieve and the products or solution that you can offer. This is mostly a process of using your expertise to establish the true need of the customer.

Again this is vastly simplified by questions and suggested answers.
The real test of expertise is to ask about the element of the solution that were unconsidered. What had the customer not thought of, or not realised that were possible.

In other words: the needs are fully identified and solution thought through.

Step 5: Make the proposal through to taking the order

This is of course more than one step, but with the groundwork properly completed, including fully qualifying the visitor, the last elements can be the easiest.

The process of understanding and guidance has built trust. The use of expertise has explained the problem to be solved. Presented with a clear solution, the outcome will typically be a sale. Close the deal, and then ask for AND take the order. A win-win situation for both parties.

In other words: to make the sale and satisfy the customer with a great purchase.

Your next step?

If you are interested in converting questions into sales, or any other aspects of prospect and sales automation, why not get in touch and we can discuss how these steps can be applied to your inbound leads.

Remember: whilst greed is good, sales are better.