B2B sales is built on touchpoints. The more touches you can make with each prospect over the sales cycle and beyond, the greater the likelihood that the prospect will turn into a loyal customer with a high lifetime customer value. SMS offers the potential to ramp up your B2B sales touchpoints with each prospect, at a much lower cost than most other forms of marketing.
SMS is probably the most interactive, personal and immediate form of marketing communication. It can’t replace email, social media or other channels, but it can do things those channels can’t.
SMS requires a much lower level of commitment than phone, in-person, or online meetings. It needs no apps or even internet. And since you pretty much have to read a text before deleting it, SMS gets an incredibly high open rate.
But here’s the stat that really counts: Marketers that use three or more forms of media gain 250% higher purchase and engagement rates than ones who use just a single channel. Multi-channel marketing is what every B2B salesperson should be aiming for, and SMS makes that much easier because of its low cost and simplicity.
So, let’s look at some tips, strategies, and uses for SMS in B2B sales.
Basic SMS Tips for B2B Sales and Marketing
Here are a few basic tips and strategies to keep in mind as you use SMS to reach out to your B2B customers and leads:
Always include a CTA
Give your recipients something to do every time. “See these new stats.”, “Check out this report.”, “See what this expert just tweeted.”, “Reply if interested.” Because it’s SMS, your CTAs need to be short. But that doesn’t mean they have to be generic. Make it specific to whatever your message is about.
Use your 160 characters wisely
You don’t have a lot of space, so don’t fill it with any fluff. Again, SMS can’t do what email can do. Make one point. Make it clear, useful, and appealing. Then include the CTA and you’re done.
Include an opt-out
Because permission must be given to send SMS marketing, you must give your subscribers the option to stop receiving texts from you. Just tell them to text STOP if they want to be removed (or follow the guidelines provided by your SMS marketing platform) from your list. You don’t want to get even a single spam complaint with SMS because the carriers are much more strict about this than with email.
Consider the timing
Most people look at new texts within a few minutes of receiving them. But since you want your B2B sales prospects and customers to do something in response, try to send texts when you think they are more likely to have some extra time. First thing in the morning or at the end of the workday probably isn’t a good choice. Midday, lunch, afternoons — these are probably better times for most industries.
Don’t abuse or overdo it
Again, SMS is not email. In B2B sales, you can often get away with sending multiple emails per week. Some companies send them daily. You cannot do that with SMS because people consider their SMS inboxes more personal than email. This is their phone, not an email client or the internet. Your texts might be right next to texts from relatives and friends.
Reserve your SMS marketing for times when you have something important and relevant to say that your customer or lead will be interested in.
3 Ways to Use SMS in Your B2B Sales and Marketing Outreach
There are three main categories for how you can use SMS in your B2B marketing:
- Automated texts triggered by an action
- Bulk texts to your entire list or to segments
- Personal texts to just one prospect or customer
Here are a few ways to use SMS in your B2B sales and marketing, broken down into these three categories:
Automated SMS for B2B Marketing
For automated replies, you can use SMS for:
If a prospect or customer schedules an appointment with your B2B sales team, send an automated confirmation via SMS in addition to the email you probably already send. Missed appointments equal an inefficient sales team and lost revenue, and you don’t want prospects to forget or double book.
Appointments can include simple meetings, consultations and demos, and they can be in person, on the phone, or video conferencing.
In all these situations where a specific time and date has been set and agreed to, send an automated SMS confirmation that triggers once the appointment is set.
Just like with email, you can set up an SMS welcome series that goes out whenever a prospect or customer opts in to your SMS list.
Make sure your opt-in forms specify that you’ll send a few introductory texts after they join, so they don’t feel bombarded or think this will be the norm. Also, make sure they have a place to clearly give their consent to receive SMS marketing from you when they join your list.
This should appear on your online forms, as well as on any printed materials you might hand out at an event or during a meeting, and on slides as part of a live presentation or webinar.
Typically, opting in requires them to text a five-digit shortcode or ten-digit long code to a number you give them. Once they do that, the first automated welcome text should land in their inbox.
After that, you might plan a series of three to five additional texts that connect them with specific content, resources, deals, and opportunities on your website. The main idea is to be personal, human and useful. Deliver value and position yourself as a helpful resource, not a pushy salesperson.
Another good use of automated SMS is for anyone who signs up for one of your webinars. Webinar attendance rates tend to be around 20-30% of the people who register — on a good day. A few timely SMS reminders in addition to email may be able to inch that up into the 40’s, or even perhaps above 50%.
Customer Feedback Requests
A couple weeks after a purchase, you might schedule an automated SMS that asks the customer to leave a review or send their feedback about their purchase or service experience. For B2B, waiting a couple weeks is usually better because many products and services take more time to start using.
Of course, you should do whatever seems best for your particular company and industry.
Bulk SMS Marketing Uses for B2B Sales
Whether you’re sending texts to your entire list or to segments of it, here are a few ways to use bulk SMS marketing to nurture your B2B prospects:
Workshops and Webinars
Let your prospects know about upcoming online events that are relevant to them. Again, this is in addition to email and other marketing you may be using for these. But because SMS is a bit more personal, gets a higher open rate and is so short, you can be sure that a brief message about your events has been delivered to everyone on your list.
Product and Service Upgrades and Announcements
For existing customers and your hottest prospects, letting them know about new features, upgrades, products and services via SMS is a smart way to keep them updated and give them the opportunity to engage further.
And again, don’t forget that you can segment these texts based on their relevance to each client and lead.
Surveys and Polls
This is another engagement marketing strategy that is appropriate and effective for bulk SMS and it will increase your response rates beyond what you’ll get if you only use email.
Personal SMS to B2B Sales Prospects and Customers
The last category for SMS marketing is personalized texts sent to specific individuals. This is the bread and butter of B2B sales — nurturing and staying in touch with leads and existing customers. Here are a few ways to use one-on-one texts in B2B:
If someone buys a product, attends a meeting or does anything else with a B2B sales rep, that rep should send a personal text simply to thank them. This is an agenda-free text and may be an exception to the rule to always include a CTA. The point here is sincere gratitude and a human connection.
In B2B sales, following up is probably the single most important strategy in your arsenal once you get a lead. And it doesn’t stop after the lead becomes a customer because you want them to become a repeat customer.
Use SMS to follow up one-on-one with your customers and prospects in situations such as:
- After a meeting to keep momentum going
- When you send an email about something important but don’t hear back
- After you send them content of some kind — “What did you think of that article?”
- When it’s time to schedule the next appointment
- On their job anniversary
- After a meeting if you promised to send them something
- When they receive an award or reach a milestone
When customers ask for help, they want an answer. Nothing is more immediate than SMS, so if you have their permission, use this to respond to questions and concerns.
In some situations, the B2B sales rep should be the one to personally reach out. For example, suppose the customer placed an order but your inventory was too low to fulfill it. Once your inventory is replenished, send them a text immediately and let them know their order is now on its way.
In B2B, customer loyalty often exists because of the one person at the company the customer knows and has connected with. That is often the sales rep who works with them. To keep that customer, the rep should be made available via SMS and be responsive.
This is the fastest and most direct way to reach someone and loyal customers will appreciate having direct access to the person they want to speak with.
Send Links to Relevant Content
When you, as the B2B sales rep, know your customers well, you can send links to specific content just for them:
“Here’s a report with data about what we discussed last week.”
“This article discusses something you brought up in our last meeting.”
“I know this issue matters to you — here’s a good video about it.”
“We just created this free guide — I think you’ll get a lot out of it.”
Sometimes, this sort of marketing works in bulk texts too, especially to particular segments. But it’s even more effective one-on-one because it shows the customer that the sales rep is thinking about them, remembers their past discussions, and wants them to succeed.
Use SMS to Bolster Your B2B Sales Communication
All of the strategies and tips you just read about how to use SMS for B2B sales growth can be achieved using emfluence’s SMS messaging service, which is part of our marketing automation platform. You can integrate multiple forms of media and map every touchpoint along the customer journey.
This is how you provide next-level customer service and amplify the efforts of your sales team. It’s how you maximize the impact of each and every marketing activity. And it’s how you achieve record-breaking ROI from your marketing program (and get a raise).