21 Tips For Brands Implementing Business Text Messaging with Sales Reps

As I type this there are countless conversations taking place between sales reps and customers. With reps making up a large portion of any brand’s annual budget, much time is spent looking for ways to impact those sales moments. From finding great sales people to creating the right sales materials, brands turn over every stone in order to capitalize on those moments. Many brands have been experimenting with new technologies to enable sales reps with tools to create better customer relations, and ultimately increase sales. Business text messaging is one of those digital sales tools that has been helping to impact those sales moments in real time.

For any brand lead or sales leader who is looking to further amplify their reps with an effective sales tool, business text messaging should be a prime consideration. In this article we are going to dig into a few tips for implementing business text messaging into the fold.

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Know the Differences Between Business Text Messaging vs. Traditional SMS Marketing Programs

Business text messaging as a digital sales tool is very different from traditional text message marketing programs. Text message marketing:

  • requires people to subscribe to on-going text message communications
  • is based on a mass advertising philosophy centered around reach and frequency
  • contains general content that is only relevant for a small subset of the list at any given time

Business text messaging as a sales tactic is almost the polar opposite in that it:

  • is meant to be a one and done opt-in (no on-going text message campaign)
  • acts more like a real-time delivery mechanism of specific digital content
  • contains highly relevant content based on the customer and the conversation

Brands Can Use Both One-and-Done Business Text Messaging and Traditional SMS Marketing Campaigns

The big secret? You can have both! Implementing business text messaging with a sales team does not preclude brands from continuing (or adding) SMS marketing campaigns. We learned above that the two are very different and serve different purposes. Keep your traditional SMS campaign going if that is working, but certainly provide business text messaging to sales reps as a digital sales tool for their bag.

Know the Subtle Nuances Between Business Text Messaging vs. Email Marketing

Using text messaging for business feels similar to email marketing, and in many ways they are similar.  But, there are also a number of nuances with business text messaging that brands need to think differently about.

  • Instant deliverability is the biggest difference between business text messaging and email. Although email is close to instant, it feels like there is a lag between when the email is sent and when the email client on the customer side actually receives the email. Text messages arrive to the customer’s phone almost immediately after they are sent.
  • Text messages are much more “vocal” when they arrive. Text is harder to ignore. People seem to check their text messages as they come in, which is the opposite of email (most of the time) as people batch read their email since they receive so many of them.
  • Due to the character limits on text messaging, the content has to be much more focused. One topic. Hard hitting. Single, strong, call-to-action. Email these days is like reading a book. Many email templates contain so many images, links, and copy that it is hard to know where to look first.
  • Due to all of these factors, response rates on text messaging vs. email are noticeably different, with business text messaging generating higher click-through rates.

Define How to Use Business Text Messaging for Sales Enablement for Your Brand

Now that the difference between business text messaging as a digital sales tool and traditional SMS marketing and email marketing campaigns, the best thing to focus on is defining how to use business text messaging with your field force. Ask the following questions to help get the creative thought forms vibrating:

  • What does the current rep-customer experience look like? Where are the gaps?
  • How can business text messaging allow reps to provide more value to customers before, during, and after sales calls?
  • Does it make sense to plug business text messaging into our existing SFA via an API or is it easier to simply put a business text messaging app on reps’ devices?
  • What programs and sales materials do we have, or can we develop, to use along with business text messaging as the content which gets delivered to customers through the text messages sent from reps?

Define Clear Objectives for Implementing Business Text Messaging with Sales Reps

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Like any new sales and marketing tactic, it’s imperative to start by defining the objectives of the campaign. Goals can be lofty and more generalized,, but objectives need to be measurable. A good place to start is the answers to the questions that were asked as part of the exercise above, defining how to use business text messaging with sales reps.  Once you identify the gaps and opportunities to use a tool like business text messaging, set measurable objectives which can be achieved if the right plan is put in place and executed against.

Work With Your Marketing Team to Create a Plan for Achieving Your Sales Objectives

All great sales and marketing plans have the following attributes:

  • Structured starting by defining business objectives, followed by setting strategies which align with those objectives, and finally include the tactic(s) that which will be executed against
  • Measurable in that each objective can be quantified and all tactics have success metrics associated with them
  • Achievable based on the current surrounding factors such as budget, resources, current business climate, etc.

Set KPIs for Your Business Text Messaging Program

Once objectives are set for the program, and a plan has been put in place to execute against, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be set in order to help measure the effectiveness of the program. If generating sales with business text messaging is the objective, set KPIs around your sales targets. If increased customer satisfaction is part of the objective, set KPIs around achieving specific ratings or feedback from customers. Align KPIs with program objectives and then ensure to set up all of the reports necessary to track progress against KPIs on a regular basis.

For more information on KPIs, check out this article by HubSpot: Set the right KPIs for your business

Put Metrics in Place to Understand Progress Towards Achieving KPIs

KPIs are the destination that programs are driving towards. Metrics are the reports that are used to identify how brands are tracking towards obtaining those KPIs. If the KPI is to increase sales by 25% within the first 6 months of the release of the new business text messaging digital sales tool, some of the metrics to follow might be:

  • Total sales by month
  • Total sales by channel (specifically looking at this new text channel and the results generated from it)
  • Total sales by rep by channel  (determine which reps are performing best with the new tool)

Create a Business Text Messaging Content Plan to Avoid Reps Texting Homemade Bread

Like all marketing communications programs, having a solid plan listing all of the content and any associated business rules which are required is a must. Business text messaging content is broken down into two main parts:

  1. Text content – the copy which is actually sent as the text message
  2. Link content – the digital materials, programs, or e-commerce web pages which are linked to within the text message

Having a content plan which lays out each of the different content streams will be super helpful when executing on the program. Also, if you’re a highly regulated industry like healthcare or finance, it is imperative that you draft a content plan so that it can be approved by internal legal and regulatory teams. We don’t want reps serving “homemade bread”  to customers.

Remove the Friction From the Experience by Making it Easy to Collect Mobile Number and Send Texts

During the planning for implementing business text messaging with sales reps, thinking through the desired experience for both the rep and customer is critical. The biggest piece of the puzzle is making it easy for reps to collect customer’s mobile number, select the content they want to send, and send it. Without the friction of a clunky experience, and with the right business text messaging platform, this process can happen in seconds – from collecting a customer’s mobile number to the delivery of that text message to the customer’s phone.

Leverage the Instant Deliverability Business Text Messaging Provides Sales Reps

Picking up from the last section, the process for collecting mobile numbers and delivering a text to a customer’s phone can happen in seconds. It is so important that brands strategize around this concept. With email delivery there is a sense by the receiver that the email can be opened whenever. With a text, it’s very different. When a text comes in, people check them right away the majority of the time. Not only that, but if it’s sent by a rep during a conversation, it’s expected by the customer.

What if there were instant actions you could get your customers to take? What would those things be?  Once you identify them, determine if you have those materials and programs in place. If not, develop them and start enabling reps to deliver those materials to customers through business text messaging.

Develop New Marketing Materials For Sales Reps to Deliver with Business Text Messaging

Whether a brand needs to create completely new marketing materials for a business text messaging initiative or simply modify existing materials will be based on the objectives of the program, the existing materials, and the plan for executing the best experience with customers. Here are a few examples of materials which can be delivered to customers from sales reps via text:

  • Educational materials – The traditional blocking and tackling materials which provide education around a brands’ products and services are a no brainer for reps to deliver to customers.
  • Apps – If a brand has an app designed for customers, using business text messaging to text customers a link to the app on the app store is a great way to increase app downloads.
  • Subscription requests – Brands running marketing programs direct to customers need to acquire leads for those programs. Sales reps can text customers a link to the digital enrollment form in order to collect leads anywhere.

Create Digital Leave-Behind Materials for Reps to Text to Customers On the Spot

Printed leave-behinds, especially in industries like Life Sciences, are a standard component within the rep toolkit. I have to wonder if all of those printed pieces, which are so expensive to develop and produce, simply get thrown away these days… a topic for another conversation. That said, with business text messaging brands can still leverage the leave behind strategy, but do so with a more modern twist. Reps can text digital leave behind materials to customers who can then engage with that contact at a time that’s convenient.

A few examples of digital leave behinds:

  • Digital brochures
  • Product specifications
  • Interactive video links
  • Digital web tools designed for customers
  • Links to social media channels

Keep Business Text Messages Short and Sweet

With character limits on text messages, it’s fairly easy to keep text short. That said, words are important. Be precise in your focus. Business Text Messaging for sales is all about extending value with your message. Provide customers with a link to educational materials. Text a link to a digital ordering form to remove the friction from closing sales. Find unique ways to add value and success with business text messaging will follow.

Train Sales Reps to Use Business Text Messaging Effectively

Like all new digital sales tools, rep training is absolutely critical. The big keys with business text messaging are:

  • Providing reps with a focused plan on how to use the new tool
  • Training reps on how to use the tool effectively and explain bumpers (ie. no homemade bread)
  • Training reps on how to leverage business text messaging with customers before, during, and after sales calls

The nice thing about text is that close to 100% of your sales force will be comfortable using the new tool.

Ensure Reps Tell the Right Story to Customers

One of the most important factors that this article has been hitting on is that business text messaging for sales reps can be one-and-done. When reps ask customers if they can send them a text it is imperative that reps tell the right story. Customers need to know that by saying ‘yes’ and providing reps with their mobile number they will only be receiving a single text with highly relevant content (since it will be based on the conversation that is happening in the moment between rep and customer). When customers know that their mobile number won’t be solicited to over and over again (unless they opt-in to one of the brand’s CRM programs) it makes customers much more comfortable allowing sales reps to collect their mobile number.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any new digital sales tool, the more reps use business text messaging with customers, the more comfortable they will become. Because most reps already use text messaging in their personal life, this part of the process shouldn’t be filled with a lot of barriers.

Obtain Qualitative Feedback From Sales Reps About Your Business Text Messaging Program

When a brand first launches a new digital sales tool like business text messaging, it is important to solicit feedback from either a select team of reps or the full team. Either way, the brand needs to know how comfortable reps are getting using the new tool, what’s working, and what’s not. Definitely put a mechanism in place to collect rep feedback, even if it’s a simple phone call between reps and sales leadership.

Collect Data and Key Insights About Your Customers During Sales Rep Calls

When it comes to business text messaging for sales enablement, there will be a lot of data coming back to brand. Leveraging that intelligence will be critical for future program optimizations, especially when brands are just getting off of the ground with this new sales tactic. Learn everything you can about how your program is performing, how customers are reacting to it, and how reps are using it most effectively.

Develop a Plan for Translating Insights Into Improvements to Your Business Text Messaging Program

Collecting and analyzing the insights coming from a brand’s business text messaging campaign is great, but without a plan for translating those insights into program optimization. The following steps will help brands get started translating insights into action:

  • Set KPIs and the appropriate tracking metrics up front
  • Put a plan in place by date as to when to review the reports (monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • Identify a program champion to analyze the insights
  • Develop strategies for implementing new ideas
  • Use A/B testing to hone in on what’s working and what’s not after implementing
  • Rinse and repeat this process over and over until is firing on all cylinders

Test Different Business Text Messaging Platforms to Find the Right Fit for Your Organization

There are a few different business text messaging platforms out there. Many of them focus on traditional SMS marketing activities, but there are a few which can work for sales teams. Every software platform offers a free trial period and customer support managers to get brands off the ground. Take advantage of this and start testing different products.

The OnSpot Social experiential marketing platform is being used by a number of large sales teams for business text messaging. If you’re interested in testing the platform or setting up a demo, please sign-up for a free trial for OnSpot Social.

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