Hey, B-to-B Marketers: Online Chat Isn’t Just for B-to-C Anymore

May 30, 2006 8:24 PM  By

Business-to-business marketers are realizing the benefits of online chat functionality. By integrating chat into their marketing programs, b-to-b companies can improve the chances of converting their best prospects into qualified sales leads. Real-time chat lets organizations sell to people who are ready to buy, accelerating the entire selling process. And instead of cold-calling lists, sales teams can focus valuable time and effort on people exhibiting actual buying behavior.

Here are five easy steps for maximizing the value of chat.

1) Take the lead. Monitor activity from all prospects on your Website and then automatically engage them when they meet your “hot prospect” profile. Technology can flag Website visitors who show strong purchase intent by investigating prices, returning frequently to your site, or making detailed product comparisons. You can subsequently offer these prospects an online chat and route them to your inside sales force or product experts.

2) Take control. Based on visitor behavior, information from your CRM system, and your current staffing levels, use rules-based routing to ensure that each prospect chats with the customer service rep or salesperson most qualified to help.

3) Personalize the experience. Instead of offering standard “May I help you?” invitations, improve overall customer experience with custom chat invites. This enables you to open every online chat with a relevant invitation such as “Did you find the pricing information you’re looking for?”, “Do you have any questions about compatibility?”, or “Would you like to know where our nearest support center is located?” based on prospect behavior and history.

4. Be productive. Provide agents with the tools to know exactly how often each person visited your site, when and where they visited, and what pages they viewed. Compile the complete activity history of each prospect they chat with–Web visits, e-mails, membership in automated programs, form or survey submissions–to make every discussion more productive.

5. Use multiple channels. The customer dialogue does not have to end when the conversation is over. Leveraging an integrated chat component, you can follow up with visitors and chatters in other marketing channels.

Using this five-step approach to integrating chat into a b-to-b marketing program can enable any organization to respond faster, more accurately, and more agreeably to the needs of their prospects, thus improving customer satisfaction, increasing marketing effectiveness, and generating revenue. So one question remains: Why aren’t you chatting today?

Mike Zavershnik is product marketing manager for Toronto-based sales consultancy Eloqua Corp.