How to use conversational sales to acquire customers online

A conversational sales guide for the modern-day marketeer. Learn how to implement conversational sales strategies into your lead acquisition process and acquire customers online.

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What is Conversational Sales?

Conversational Sales is a relatively new sales tactic. It has emerged from the evolution of online sales tools we now have available, alongside a consumer demand. Today, Conversational Sales is proving to increase online conversion rates and shorten the more traditional sales cycles. Expectations of the consumer are not the same as they used to be, in fact, 87% of organizations agree traditional experiences no longer satisfy customers (Whisbi). In the past, the customer was prepared to fill out forms and expected a traditional email marketing campaign to follow suit. Consumers are now much savvier, know what they want and they want it now. 25% of Millennials expect to get a response from a sales or customer service rep within the first ten minutes (Whisbi). This demand for a quicker response has brought about the need for conversational sales. Conversational sales is a tactic similar to what consumers were used to experiencing in store, but they can now engage with from the comfort of their own home and in their own time. 

What’s the difference between Traditional Online Sales and Conversational Sales?

Before we get into conversational sales tactics to help you start acquiring customers online, let’s break down what conversational sales actually is and how it differs from traditional sales tactics. Conversational sales are essentially using online tools and resources to sell to a potential customer via a seemingly personal, conversation. Whereas, a more traditional sales funnel would be to collect information via a form (which only converts around 10-13% of customers) before sending the customer down a “lead nurture journey” which would eventually qualify them to be sales-worthy or not. This is a very long-winded way of going about a sale! Conversational sales avoid forms and other more traditional lead generation barriers; it often jumps straight to the sale opportunity or acquires leads that are much “hotter” than those that have come via a form. In addition to this, traditional sales avenues would require the customer to switch communication channels, in order to purchase what they want; it’s a nuisance for the customer and heightens their chance of losing interest in the product. 

Conversational sales should leave you with not only new customers but new brand ambassadors that have had a truly positive and personal experience with your brand. 67% of customers said they would consider avoiding a brand if they felt the process was too tedious (Whisbi). This data shows that whether a consumer is ready to buy from you or not, you’re already eradicating the chances of them engaging with your brand again, if the brand interaction is in any way tedious or has bad UX. So, that being said, let’s dive into ten simple steps to help you implement a conversational sales strategy in your day-to-day marketing efforts. 

10 Steps to Implement Conversational Sales:

1. Build Tone of Voice Guidelines

If your brand is just starting up then these tone of voice guidelines will be your saving Grace, when it comes to expansion. If your brand is already in multiple cities or even countries then there’s even more pressure on you to create these guidelines before you do anything else on this conversational sales checklist. For a global brand, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have one person managing all of your conversational sales channels. To give your customers an equal experience, no matter where they are contacting you from, define what your brand sounds like, keywords and phrases your brand uses as well as an all-round personality. This experience will leave your customers “walking” away with a smile on their face and have them feel like they’ve engaged with the same brand they’ve followed on social media or experienced via your other marketing avenues. 

2. Build an Internal FAQs document with human answers

Processes can be a huge time saver and no matter how basic they may seem to be they are there to save you time and minimize room for error. By creating an internal document answering your FAQs you’re not only aiding your tone of voice guidelines but you’re saving your sales reps so much time. Your team will be able to copy & paste answers rather than typing out new ones in response to the same questions they’re receiving in live chats. Save time from the word GO and give yourself more time to optimize larger, more complicated processes. But remember, human answers! Don’t feel that you only need to be responding to the questions, add colloquialisms or even jokes to the document, if you feel they are appropriate.

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3. Build customer-facing blogs or video responses to top FAQs

Conversations can happen across platforms. People like receiving answers to their questions via chat, however, they’ll love having a face to put to the copy they’ve been reading. Imagine direct messaging a brand on Instagram and receiving a video reply to your question, just moments later. As a consumer, you feel as though the brand has taken the extra step in customer care and can walk away knowing you’ve had a human to human experience. These videos can be shot one time, saved in a shared folder and re-used as many times as necessary! 

More so, you don’t need a huge amount of resources to shoot these videos. If you don’t need to demo your product then simple, selfie-style videos can actually be more authentic and give a more personal feel to the consumer’s experience. Lastly, consumers are far more likely to buy from someone they know, so why not give them that opportunity as soon as possible so they are more comfortable in buying in the future. 

4. Implement a bot where possible and go hybrid! 

Bots are the future and the future is now! Chatbots have come a long way since they first launched and they are truly a huge time saver. If implemented correctly, they’re able to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you and will really help you convert those online sales. Of course, the consumer (more often than not) knows they’re talking to a bot. So, don’t be scared to be playful with your responses. Get innovative and fit in nuances or even “bot-like” responses so the consumer not only gets the answer they are looking for but receives the answer in a fun and creative way. Plus, if the question requires a longer answer then bots are great for identifying keywords or FAQs and linking to longer-form content on your site. This content can then help to close the deal where the bot may not be able to within the limitations of a chat. 

Take the bot to the next level by going hybrid. This bot’s conversation is essentially a live, qualifying journey for a potential lead. Think about how traditional sales nurture journeys would be guiding a consumer through a buying process via email. Now condense all of that information, cut the fluff and fit it into a chat. This means you’ll need to leave open-ended questions to engage the consumer in the early stages, gather vital information like their name and email when you deem it appropriate. But, lastly and probably most importantly, give closed questions when you want to guide them towards a sale. To do this you’ll need to provide your customers with multiple choice answers so they actively progress their own journey towards a purchase. For example, if you wanted to hand over a bot’s conversation to a sales rep, rather than asking the customer if they would like to speak to a sales rep ask them: What day are you free this week? Give them a multiple-choice selection and go back to sales 101: Always be closing

5. Integrate a human, when necessary

When implementing conversational sales you’ll need to rely on humans just as much as automated processes. Once a bot is up and running though, don’t leave the bot to it. Although conversational bots are a great time saver it’s good to know when to call in the cavalry and allow a human to take the reigns. Identify keywords or phrases that are “buzzwords” or “triggers”, notifying an on-hand sales rep and let your rep give that final interaction to help close the online sale. 

6. Use these three tools to implement conversational sales 

Conversational Sales doesn’t just mean a chatbot, although more often than not that’s the first thing that springs to mind when people think of conversational sales tools. Here are three more tools that can help your conversational sales strategy. 

Live chat 

If you have the resources to implement a live chat then this is a fantastic option and an often overlooked tool. It’s essentially an easier way for a sales rep to get in touch with a relatively hot lead. Give returning customers to site an opportunity to chat with a “live rep” and let the rep dive straight into any blockers the customer may have put up that are stopping them from buying.

Click to call 

This can convert outbound sales into inbound sales. In your outbound sales strategy, always offer the opportunity: “click to call”. This gives your potential customer an intent to buy or at least take action towards it, should they click that button. 

Live broadcasting 

Why focus on B2C or B2B when you can focus on B2Bs or Cs. Hit multiple customers at once with live broadcasting. This can be done on numerous social channels: Youtube, Instagram, Facebook or can even be done by an invite-only webinar, to a mailing list. Live broadcasting is a passive way to sell your product and what you do, while providing valuable content for your audience. 

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7. Ask your customers these questions in the conversational sales process 

Whether you’re using a bot, a sales rep within a live chat or something else, you need to engage with your customers, get to know them, massage their ego a little, before you consider converting them. Ask your customer these questions in your sales process to ensure you close that sale (Digital Marketer).

What’s your name? 

Take them back to a human interaction, begin to build a profile on them and use their name as often as possible to make the conversation a personable experience. 

Tell me more about yourself and your business?

Continue to build a relationship and understand your potential customers better. It will enable your team to sell easier and approach them with a friendlier tone in the future. It can also dictate the content you feed. 

What do you hope to get out of our conversation today? 

Manage expectations! Understand what the customer is looking for and address that. If your customer is unsure, there’s your opportunity to offer them multiple-choice questions and steer the conversation down a route in which you know you can deliver on. Take your three top products, or biggest USPs and offer them as an answer. 

What do you know about [brand and product]?

Again, this is another opportunity to manage expectations, but this question can do so much more. It fills your rep with knowledge on how much the consumer knows, the touchpoints they need to focus on or the USP’s they need to introduce. This question also allows you to introduce your product without pushing it. Plus, given the answers you should already have, you’ll be able to introduce your product in the most appealing way for what your prospective customer is interested in.

Do you want some help with that?

This is a completely non-invasive question, the wording is genuine and this paints your product as the solution to the customer’s current problem. This is a closing question and if you’ve asked your potential customer questions 1 - 4 then you’ll have understood them, their problem, their expectations and the solution you should be able to provide. Close that sale!

8. Optimize your conversational sales strategy for mobile 

By 2021, 51% of all online purchases will be done via mobile (Whisbi). It’s down to you to make sure your conversational sales tactics are mobile-friendly. Whether you are implementing a live chat option, a bot, an interactive webinar… Everything needs to be optimized for mobile. Be aware of the amount of screen space you’re taking up, think about where the user’s thumbs sit and make sure the UX is as smooth for mobile as it is for desktop.  

9. Target high intent pages with conversational sales opportunities

Conversational sales is a fantastic strategy but it’s not the only sales strategy you’ll be using, especially on your website. Make sure you use it appropriately and during opportunities in which it will have the greatest effect. Understand your website and how your user interacts with it. Using tools like Hotjar, can massively help with understanding your consumer’s movements throughout the site. Once you’ve mapped this, you should be able to identify the high intent pages. These are pages that are most likely to convert into a sale, or convey to you that the consumer has a high intent to buy. For example, within e-commerce, these high intent moments may be as obvious as the “checkout” button or the “cart” page. However, for a coworking space, these pages could be the various membership plans page, the locations page, the contact page, the list goes on. There are many options and every brand is different. Identify your high intent pages and then incorporate conversational sales tools within that page to give your customer that gentle nudge they might need. 

There are some tools that can help you implement a high-performance website marketing funnel for your site. They can help you to pinpoint the best possible way to integrate a conversational sales component into your overall strategy. Handling it in this way can free up valuable internal resources to devote to real-time engagement with customers without sacrificing your hard-on lead generation and conversion results.

10. Get data-driven

As with any marketing strategy you implement, you’ll need to track the impact of your efforts and forever be optimizing. Define what success looks like for this new strategy. Drift introduced the CQL to the game. As opposed to traditional qualifications for leads, such as MQLs, PQLs or SQLs they saw a gap for a newly coined qualified lead in the conversational sales strategy. A CQL stands for conversation-qualified lead. Basically, the lead is qualified as having the intent to buy via a conversation, either with a bot or a sales rep. Track these CQL’s and where they’re coming from. In doing this, alongside: emails captured, sales rep meetings/calls booked, closed wins and losses etc, you’ll be able to optimize where your biggest drop off rate is coming from and re-strategize that area of your conversational sales strategy. 

Reap the rewards of your conversational sales efforts 

If you follow these ten steps to implement conversational sales in order to acquire customers online you’ll soon be able to reap the rewards, watch your workload decrease and sales revenue increase. Remember, the hint is in conversational and if the consumer doesn’t feel like they’re interacting with your brand in an authentic way then you’ve missed the mark. Start with the basics, implement processes where possible and then focus on optimisation. Conversational sales is something that can forever be improved, add value to your product, your brand and most importantly help you to acquire new customers online. 


Jake Stainer is currently Head of Digital Growth at TravelPerk, Founder of Papora, Founder at InflectionGrowth and before spent 4 years growing Typeform from $1m -> $25m ARR.

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