The Key Stages of Sales on Live Chat for the Holiday Shopping Season

October 27, 2015


This post is contributed by Sunir Shah, the Chief Marketing Olarker of Olark, a live chat client perfect for ecommerce businesses looking for an immediate connection to their customers.

I could go on for days about purchasing processes, sales theory, and the importance of crawling inside your customer’s brain to figure out how to keep them engaged. Literally days of talking.

But you don’t have that kind of time. Cyber Monday is just over a month away. The time for talking is gone. Now it’s time to start prepping and practicing for the biggest online sales day of the year.

You could start by getting an MBA, but again, you don’t have that kind of time any more. So let me give you a crash course in the three major theories of the buying cycle, and the points at which your participation in customer service is vital to sales.

And if you make it to the end, you can get some FREE STUFF.

Deal? Let’s go.

The Purchasing Process

Ever looked closely at the questions customers ask? Those questions change based on where they are in the purchasing process. As someone selling something, your goal when answering them should always be about getting them to the next stage of the purchasing process.

If you were getting an MBA, they’d teach you the three major theories of the buying cycle, (Dewey’s Buying Decision Process, Roger’s Adoption Process and—the most famous—Lewis’s AIDA).

To save you some time, I’ve smashed them together into a single list:

    1. Need/Want

Customers feel an unfulfilled need or desire, either innately or through your persuasion.

    1. Attention

Attention acquired – they’re in your store or on your website.

    1. Matching/Searching**

Customers are there because they want to buy something. Do you have it?

    1. Interest*

Something you’re selling catches their eye.

    1. Objections*

The customer wants you to convince them everything is going to be ok.

    1. Engagement/Desire

Customer is sold in their hearts and minds. Congratulations!

    1. Action*

How does the customer actually buy it? The checkout process.

    1. Fulfillment**

How does the customer actually get it? The order fulfillment process.

    1. Evaluation**

Customer compares actual product to the hype. Is it actually what they thought it would be?

    1. Satisfaction

Customer got what they bought and it is what they thought.

    1. Repeat Customer

Customer comes back to you to buy something again in the future.

    1. Referral

Customer feels confident recommending you to their friends because you meet or exceed expectations.

Enter Live Chat

The single stars indicate stages where a customer actively wants to talk to someone. They are opportunities to quickly help a customer and put their mind at ease about a purchase they’re already interested in making:

  • Interest
    The customer is interested and now they just need someone to answer a few questions before they make a final decision. Live chat lets you offer a quick response and helpful shoulder to lean on. Be smart though – there’s more to chatting than reading and replying. Listen to what the customer is telling you and ask the right questions to fully understand what they need.
  • Objections
    Maybe a customer loves the product but isn’t sure of your production methods, or service record. Having someone on live chat who can empathize with objections and offer reassurance will make a huge difference! And even if an objection can’t be resolved on chat doesn’t mean it should go unresolved. Don’t be afraid to tell a customer you’ll follow-up on email to get them more information.
    —Also, remember to record or tag all conversations about sales objections and build a database of responses so your team can review them, collate common objections and compile good answers. Objections are opportunities to improve or correct something that customers don’t find agreeable. That could lead to better long term sales past the month of December.
  • Action
    Help your customers all the way through checkout. When you’re chatting, remind them to add it to their cart. Tell them where to click to check out. Invite them to ask about shipping options. It’s okay to continue chatting with customers while they are still browsing and buying from your website.

The double stars indicate stages where good service will play a critical role during the holiday shopping season.

  • Matching/Searching
    Don’t make your customers search your shelves alone. Make it clear and obvious that you’re there to help, and ask questions that prompt the customer to consider what they’re really looking for. This will help you match the consumer with the right product(s). If a shopper is on your bikes page, don’t ask, “What are are you looking for?” Instead, ask, “How much do you ride and what kind of terrain are you riding on?”
  • Fulfillment
    Customers are always anxious their orders are not going to make it in time. Answering fast on live chat is the magic bullet here to win customers’ hearts. It is critical you spend time rehearsing and practicing as a team how to answer these questions quickly and efficiently. It’s also critical that your team has a strong understanding of how to resolve shipping problems. Run a “pre-mortem” before the holiday rush to brainstorm all the things that can go wrong with fulfillment and then what the solutions will be; make sure everyone knows these like the back of their hands.
  • Evaluation
    Holiday sales aren’t really “complete” until January. Up to 40% of clothing and 10% of electronics are returned in January. Here again, try a “pre-mortem” to brainstorm common return objections and how you can overcome or deflect them.You can cut the return rate if your team has good answers to customers who want to return the gifts.

Get Your Team Ready

Understanding the sales process is all well and good, but getting your service and support team fired up for the holiday shopping season rush is what’s really important. There’s really no substitute for people who are genuinely happy to help customers.

So we, Olark, are giving away 10 Cyber Monday Survival Kits to ShipStation readers. Each kit will contain coffee, snacks, a small cowbell to ring when you close a sale on live chat, and tips + tricks for handling the rush on Cyber Monday. Best of all—They’re free!

How do you get one? Just leave a comment below in the comments section with an answer to this questions: What’s your one tip for surviving the holiday shopping rush?

Hurry though—you have until Tuesday, November 3rd to leave a comment. ShipStation will pick 10 lucky winners and contact them directly with additional details.

Thanks for reading and here’s to another successful shopping season for everyone!