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SMB Sales Etiquette: Embracing the Text-First Approach

Ready to close more deals? Learn how the text-first approach can help your business build relationships and boost sales

Illustration of someone texting and another of someone talking on the phone with a sales rep, side by side
June 12, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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Reading time about 9 min

In today’s fast-paced world of marketing and sales, it’s crucial to cut through the noise of the various communication platforms and advertising avenues to promote and sell your product or service.

While sales call etiquette should be on your “to-learn” list, consider implementing a text-first approach for your small- or medium-sized business (SMB). The benefits of this approach are two-fold: your contacts will feel more comfortable, in control, and less pressured, thereby boosting your chances of scheduling a follow-up call or appointment (and winning more sales).

Ready to learn more about text first, call later? Let’s dive in.

Why Text-First Sales Is Crucial for SMBs

To get started, here’s a brief overview of why it’s important to consider the text-first sales approach.

Illustration of someone texting, looking happy

Increased Responsiveness

You might be aware of the benefits of texting over other communication methods, but here’s a refresher:

  • Text messages have a 98% open rate.
  • 70% of texts are read within 5 minutes of delivery.
  • The average click-through rate for texts is 32%.
  • Response rates for SMS messages are around 45%.

For comparison, 79% of unidentified phone calls go unanswered, meaning that if your first choice is calling a contact, there’s a chance they might not even pick up.

Reduced Friction

Few people like receiving cold calls because they can feel intrusive, catch people off guard, or even pressure them to stay on the line.

Texting your contacts puts the ball in their court. They can open, read, and respond to the message at a time that works for them. Overall, this text-first approach helps your SMB align with your audience’s communication preferences and busy schedules, allowing your contacts to feel more comfortable and amenable to your sales messages.

Enhanced Personalization

While part of phone sales etiquette includes using the contact’s name and incorporating their specific needs into the conversation, this personalization might become lost on a prospect if a phone call isn’t their first preference.

By sending SMS messages first, SMBs can nurture relationships with their contacts before getting them on the phone.

It’s a Time Saver

Sales reps spend, on average, almost an hour on the phone and make approximately 35 calls daily. Some of these calls might end in seconds, depending on if the contact is open to talking on the phone.

Businesses can save employees time by tweaking their approach and texting first. Sales reps can quickly tell if a contact should be moved to the next stage in the sales process, which could take a lot of time on the phone. Plus, the sales team can handle multiple text leads at once with the help of automated text, AI chatbots, and other features. Learn more about the future of AI-generated content in text marketing.

How Can You Craft Effective Text Messages for Sales Outreach?

To craft effective text messages for sales outreach, keep the following in mind: concision, personalization, value, and a call to action.

Be Concise

One of the keys to an effective sales text message is delivering value in as few words as possible. Optimize your texts for success by clearly and concisely telling your contact why you’re messaging them; in other words, let them know why they should take precious moments out of their day to read your message.

If your message doesn’t fit into the 160-character limit of SMS texts, you can use MMS texts, which allow for more characters. Brush up on your knowledge of SMS vs. MMS before deciding which format best suits your sales needs.

Personalize

High on the sales call etiquette checklist is personalization and connection — and sales text etiquette is no different. Start building a relationship with your contact by using their first name; mentioning their company; and/or referencing a previous interaction they’ve had with your brand, such as submitting a question via your website contact form, reaching out via email, interacting with a brand rep at a conference, and so on.

Providing these small moments of connection helps your contact to feel valued and makes them more likely to respond.

Highlight the Value

Always provide value for your contacts in every message your SMB sends. Ensure that the prospect immediately understands why they’ve received your message and the benefit of responding, whether it’s a discount, time savings for their company, limited offer, and more.

Include a Clear CTA

Every text message needs a call to action (CTA) that motivates the contact to take your preferred action. Do you want them to respond directly to your text via two-way texting? Do you want them to click the link to schedule a call? Whatever the intended action is, clarify it in your message.

When to Transition from Text to Call

Let’s say that you sent your sales text messages to prospects. Now you’re probably wondering, “When is it appropriate to follow up with a call after texting first?”

Here’s how to know when it’s appropriate to follow up with a call after texting first:

Sample Text Message
  • They have expressed interest in your product or service or explicitly said yes to a follow-up call.
  • The prospect has scheduled an appointment or taken another intended action from your text.
  • They have asked questions in their text replies requiring a longer phone discussion.

How Can You Ensure Your Sales Calls Are Effective After Texting First?

To ensure that your sales calls are effective after texting first, follow cell phone etiquette for sales, which includes being friendly, referencing earlier conversations, tailoring the pitch to the prospect’s needs, and anticipating their questions.

Illustration of a checklist

Be Friendly

One of the best sales call tips is to be friendly and personable. Yes, it’s as simple as that! While it’s important to act professional, you don’t want to sound robotic or make the contact feel like they’re just another phone number on your call list.

Introduce the call with a warm greeting, and feel free to engage in small talk throughout the interaction. This approach helps build rapport with the contact, puts them at ease, and develops trust.

Reference Earlier Conversations

Connect this sales call to earlier conversations, whether they were at an in-person event, via email, or through texts. This sales meeting etiquette technique helps to ground the phone conversation, providing more context for the prospect. Remember that this person is busy, so it’s helpful to remind them of previous interactions with your company and bring up any questions they asked.

Tailor the Pitch to Their Needs

Your audience most likely has varying uses or requirements for your product or service, so your pitch should match. Effective sales calls consider the needs of the individual, like who will be using it, how they will implement it, budget, quantity — the list goes on. When your SMB sales reps anticipate these varying components, it shows the potential client that you’re in the business of meeting their needs.

Anticipate Their Questions

Another crucial part of phone sales etiquette is to be prepared for any question the prospect might have, such as cost, security, product or service features, etc. Sales reps should have a depth of competitor research at their fingertips and have already conducted a deep dive on the prospect or their company before the call. Though it requires much upfront work, this research will help reps address any concerns or pain points without missing a beat, making it easier and quicker to close a sale.

What Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid When Texting Prospects for Sales?

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when texting prospects for sales:

  • Not getting permission. Sending a text message without getting consent might have legal implications. Learn about SMS compliance, and make sure to get those opt-ins.
  • Sending a generic message. Don't send if your message can’t answer the “why” question or isn’t personalized. Prospects want clear value and to feel like you’re connecting with them, and a generic sales message just doesn’t cut it.
  • Bombarding prospects. Only send messages during business hours, and don’t send too many texts — a good rule of thumb is no more than once a week.
  • Being pushy. Sales call etiquette is about building rapport; the same goes for sales text messages. The focus should be making connections, answering questions, addressing concerns, and tailoring the pitch to the prospect’s needs, not pressuring them.
  • Not striking the right tone. Maintain a balance between professional and friendly, and remember that you can tailor messages to different prospects using customer segmentation tactics.

How to Measure the Success of Text-First Sales

While a text-first approach can help your SMB win more sales, that doesn’t mean you should just sit back and relax. You need to routinely measure each sales text campaign to determine how it’s working for your business.

Track Response Rates and Clicks

Tracking response rates and clicks (from short links in your messages) is one of the best ways to measure engagement. If responses and clicks are low, that means you probably need to tweak the content.

Measure Appointments Generated

What is the rate of appointments generated from your text messages compared to the number of messages you have sent? Low appointment generation rates might mean you need a stronger CTA or a more robust conversational texting strategy.

Monitor Conversion Rates

Keep a constant pulse on conversion by tracking how many sales come from your text messages. This is where a customer relationship management (CRM) system will come in handy.

Gather Feedback

Success isn’t only measured through numbers but also through feedback from your prospects and clients. Consider sending follow-up text surveys to the people you interacted with, requesting feedback on the message, their level of satisfaction, the text-first sales process, customer service, and so on.

How Can SMBs Integrate Text-First Sales into Their Overall Sales Strategy?

SMBs can integrate text-first sales into their overall sales strategy by incorporating sales etiquette training, a CRM, and multichannel alignment.

Training

To ensure an effective text-first approach, your SMB needs to implement sales etiquette training for all employees interacting with prospects. Develop phone sales etiquette training materials and dedicate ample time for sales reps to learn, practice, and tweak their approach to texts and follow-up calls.

CRM Integration

As mentioned earlier, CRM integration is necessary for managing and measuring sales interactions, whether by text, email, phone, or all three. With a CRM, your business can track all potential and current customer interactions and data and manage the customer journey all in one place. Learn more about the benefits of CRM marketing.

Channel Alignment

Illustration depicting omnichannel marketing (e.g., a circle with a customer in the middle, surrounded by icons of email, text, phone, socials, in-person, etc.)

All sales and marketing strategies must be cohesive across all channels to provide potential clients with a consistent experience with your brand. Make sure that the channels you use to communicate with prospects work together seamlessly, without using duplicate content, to move them down the sales funnel.

 

Use EZ Texting for Your Text-First Sales Approach

If your SMB decides that the text-first approach is right for your audience and sales strategy, you’ll need a text marketing platform. EZ Texting is an all-in-one text marketing solution that can help your business drive engagement, build relationships, and win more sales. Enhance your text and sales call etiquette techniques with our robust features, from automated text to AI Compose.

Start your free trial today, and happy texting!

FAQs

It is becoming increasingly important for SMBs to adopt a text-first approach to sales because many prefer texting over phone calls. Texting can be seen as less intrusive than calling, giving prospects more control over the conversation and making them less pressured to respond right away. Texting first aligns with contacts’ communication preferences and busy schedules, giving SMBs incorporating this approach a leg up on the competition.

Some key benefits of texting first for SMB sales are increased responsiveness, reduced friction, enhanced personalization, and saving a sales team’s time.

Some resources available to help SMBs learn more about effective sales texting strategies include sales etiquette training courses and workshops and, of course, the EZ Texting Blog.

SMBs can measure the success of their text-first sales approach by doing the following:

  • Tracking response rates and clicks
  • Measuring the number of appointments generated
  • Monitoring conversion rates from text interactions to closed deals
  • Gathering feedback from current clients and prospects on the text-first sales approach

SMBs can continuously improve their text-first sales approach by measuring key metrics, such as response rates and clicks, the number of appointments generated, and conversation rates. This data will inform businesses if their messaging needs to be tweaked. But it’s also helpful to survey prospects and current clients on their satisfaction with the text-first sales approach and stay up to date on industry trends.

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