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The Complete Guide to SMS Sales

Thanks to technology, there are now numerous sales channels that can help you convert prospects and get more customers – including text messages. Discover the benefits of an SMS sales strategy and how it can complement other channels like email and telephone calls.

You'll also get plenty of tips to help you successfully implement SMS as a sales tactic, plus inspiration on how text messaging can be used in a sales environment.

What do we mean by SMS sales?

SMS stands for short message service. SMS sales is a strategy where businesses use text messages to contact leads and convert them to paying customers. It's slightly different from SMS marketing in that the latter is all about getting people interested in your offering.

While SMS marketing can also result in sales and lead generation, an SMS sales strategy is heavily focused on selling goods or services – closing deals.

Why use SMS for selling?

Traditional sales strategies include face-to-face conversations, phone calls and emails. These are all channels that customers are familiar with but may not necessarily respond well to, depending on demographics and personal preferences.

SMS can shake up your sales techniques and reach people who perhaps don't like being sold to in person or want to avoid feeling pressured during a phone call. There are several more advantages to an SMS sales approach, plus some considerations to think about too...

Pros and cons of using text messages as part of your sales tactics

Here are the main advantages of using SMS messaging to increase sales:

  • Extensive reach – text messaging is a direct form of communication which everyone with a mobile phone is familiar with. You can reach your target audience by text even if they're in a remote area with no internet, as long as they have a phone signal.

  • Speed – texts are sent and delivered virtually instantly. This makes selling time-sensitive deals very effective as customers will typically open your text message within three minutes of receipt.

  • Impact – text messages get noticed, much more so than email marketing. 98% of texts are opened compared to just 21.33% of emails. This could be because SMS feels more personal – we tend to send and receive text messages when chatting with friends and family.

  • Many people prefer texting to talking – especially Millenials. One study reports that 67% of Millennials prefer texting or typing to communicate (as do 55% of Generation Xers and 33% of Baby Boomers).

  • A great sales communication tool – a 2018 Ellie Mae study suggested that 87% of sales professionals were planning to increase the use of text messaging to meet shifting consumer preferences over the next five years.

Now for the drawbacks of using text messages as a sales tactic:

  • Getting permission – before sending SMS campaigns, it's a legal requirement to obtain permission from your contacts. While this might be easy with prospects you already have a relationship with, it may be more difficult if you have leads you've never even spoken to before. A good approach is to obtain permission to send SMS sales messages when you collect phone numbers for lead generation.

  • Limited content – there's only so much you can say in a text message. Email is better for communicating the finer details, whereas SMS is more appropriate for back and forth short conversations.

Female texting on a phone

Calling vs texting

Picking up the phone will never go out of fashion as a smart sales strategy. Being able to talk to a prospective customer in real-time and build personal relationships is essential. Phone calls are efficient, relatively cost-effective and convey that human touch that many people appreciate.

There are two types of sales calls – a cold call and a scheduled call. Cold calling is an unsolicited call where the prospect hears from a sales rep for the first time. A scheduled call is where the sales rep calls the prospect at an agreed time/date (after the first contact has already been made) to discuss a proposition.

SMS messaging should never be used for cold calling. As mentioned earlier, you must legally obtain (express written) permission from the prospect if you want to contact them by text message.

Calls and SMS work best hand in hand. Use voice calls to make contact initially and SMS for follow-ups, answering questions, closing the deal and building customer loyalty.

Sales SMS messages: best practices and tips

To ensure your SMS sales strategy is successful, follow our tried and tested tips:

  1. Start getting opt-ins to build your list of SMS subscribers. When capturing leads, ask for a phone number and obtain permission to send SMS campaigns. Read about getting consent.

  2. Allow two-way texting so you can hold back and forth conversations with prospects. Encourage responses with open-ended questions and a call-to-action.

  3. Create compelling messages to engage your contacts. Personalise your text with their name and why you're getting in touch. Add value to each SMS message; perhaps a reminder of a discount or other sales incentive.

  4. Allow prospects to opt out – this is another legal requirement and can be as simple as adding an unsubscribe link within your text messages.

  5. Use an SMS provider that can integrate with your CRM system or marketing software to make your SMS sales campaigns more efficient and easier to keep track of.

  6. Analyse results for each SMS sales campaign to see how well it's performing. Monitor clicks, engagement metrics and conversions.

Business people looking at analytic data

SMS sales use cases

There are several ways to utilise text messages to boost your sales efforts. Take a look at these use cases:

Promotional SMS campaign

SMS is ideal for communicating all sorts of promotions such as flash sales, discounts and special offers. For example, a car dealership could use SMS to inform a warm lead that there's a time-limited deal on the vehicle model they were looking at the previous weekend.

Appointment reminders

If you're scheduling a sales call with a prospect, you'll want to send them a reminder of the date and time of their phone call appointment. SMS is brilliant for reminders (remember that amazing open rate?) and can reduce the chances of your call going ignored on the day.

Follow-up SMS messages

So you've already conducted a sales call or face-to-face appointment, and the prospective customer is considering whether to make a purchase. Use SMS to follow up with them and see where they're at in the decision-making process.

Consider the 'barriers to purchase' the prospect might be battling with and try to mitigate those by answering questions and reminding them of the benefits of your product or service.

You can also use follow-up messages to close a deal and then send confirmation details to the customer via other channels.

Sales aftercare

Building great customer relationships takes more than a positive buying experience, especially for high-ticket items that cost a lot of money.

Nurture customers by checking in after a purchase to see how they’re getting on. At the same time, why not collect a review to help inform other customers and complement marketing activities?

Loyalty programmes

Speaking of nurturing customers, SMS is very useful for communicating loyalty offers and rewarding customers. Take a look at this example from Vodafone below.

Example loyalty campaign text message

Get started with SMS sales

Ready to start your SMS strategy to convert leads, make more deals and get more customers? Try Messente's SMS API to see how easy it is to start building your subscriber list and begin sending SMS messages today. Create your free account here.

Lauri Kinkar
2022-06-14 00:00:00 UTC
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