Proactive LiveChat as a B2B Lead Generation/ Lead Qualification tool

LiveChat has been used primarily as a support tool on consumer-related sites. Recently, however, B2B companies have begun using chat as a tool to enhance users’ experience on their websites.  There are many people who are skeptical of the value of this tool and some even view it as detracting from the users’ experience.

eti Sales Support has been engaged in a new client initiative in which we are utilizing “proactive” chat to engage prospects early on In their discovery process – depending on their behavior and time on certain pages– to explore and see if LiveChat is able to  increase the number of qualified leads being generated.

Does it work?

The short answer is “yes,” but only when it’s done right.   LiveChat can and does enable you to engage with prospects intelligently and proactively to identify qualified sales-ready opportunities.

Effective B2B LiveChat , requires the deployment of intelligent  well trained “people” to communicate and smartly engage with your prospects.  There is nothing more frustrating to a prospect than having to deal with canned, non-meaningful responses from poorly trained agents who are asking scripted questions as opposed to engaging in a consultative dialogue with highly qualified and trained Business Developers.

If your brand is important to you, then you must tread very carefully if you intend to embark on any strategy that short changes your customers and prospects and harms their experience while visiting  your websites.

We’re also finding that highly focused well executed live chat can markedly help a prospect move into and down the funnel, thereby decreasing the average time it takes to move the prospect from “suspect” to “sales-ready.”  And because it is a proactive approach, we’re engaging prospects much earlier on and directly – before they may possibly leave the website in favor of a competitor’s site.

There are, however, a number of caveats.

Being a relatively new way of business to prospect communication only a fraction of the prospects offered the chat option accept and participate in a livechat.  It’s difficult to know if this has some negative impact on the overall user’s experience.  My feeling is that it is relatively harmless and will be less so as the communication medium becomes more frequently used.

Of those who engaged in a live chat (in our current sales support program’s case to date), 20% represent some real sales potential.  Others fall into the following buckets:

• Technical Support • Customer service requests • Foreign inquiries • Miscellaneous/ non-sales related

Of the 20% who had some sales potential, roughly 50% were sufficiently qualified in a follow up phone qualification process to meet our client’s specifications for a qualified sales-ready opportunity.

So yes we’ve demonstrated that it can and does work if handled and managed properly.

Stay tuned.  I will update this blog periodically as ETI develops a set of best practices and processes to maximize the lead generating capabilities of these activities.

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