Using chat as a sales tool: the complete guide

As customer service tools go, few channels are more effective than live chat. Customers love live chat for its speed, its convenience and its popular instant messaging format.

But live chat isn’t just great for service. There’s another, underestimated side to live chat that any business with a website would do well to consider. Looking beyond service, live chat is also a surprisingly powerful sales tool.

Not tapped into its sales potential yet? Not to worry. Here’s how to convert your sessions to sales, by putting in the right work before the chat, during, and after its completion.

— Before the chat begins —

You wouldn’t lurch into a sales pitch without any prep, would you? Nor should you enter into a live chat session blindly. To nurture leads before the chat is even underway, you should:

Train your operators

First things first: have your live chat operators had any level of sales training? If not, get them skilled in the art of upselling and cross-selling – it’ll come in handy during direct live chat contact.

Add a chat link to marketing emails

Whenever you send a new piece of marketing comms, include a live chat button in the email. That way, prospects can enquire immediately – without the cooling delay or the pressure of a call.

Use prospect detection

Smart live chat software now comes with prospect recognition. By using rule-based triggers, your true leads can automatically be differentiated from passing traffic – for targeted chat engagement.

Track, then talk

Don’t just talk – track. Monitor user site activity, and then send a personalised chat invitation based on their behaviour and apparent interests or issues.

Get relevant data

Pre-chat surveys present the perfect opportunity to acquire prospect data. Not only will this data help you provide a more informed chat session, it will also feed your CRM with fresh leads.

Route the chat to the right operator

You’ll have a better chance of converting if you send the user straight to the operator with the level of expertise they need. So, use skills-based routing to direct chats to the relevant person or team.

Did you know?

• Chatters spend 60% more per purchase than non-chatters

• The addition of live chat to a website typically causes a 20% increase in conversions

• Chatters are 2.8x more likely to convert than visitors who don’t chat

— During the chat —

Now for the real work. Once the chat has begun, your prospect is engaged. To maximise on that engagement and bring the prospect closer to conversion, you should:

Connect with your CRM

By syncing live chat with your CRM, you can automatically pull in any existing user data into the session. That way, you’ll be able to give a more personalised service that’s more likely to impress.

Use real-time translation

Language barriers can lose you the deal. By immediately translating any cross-lingual chats back and forth between user and operator, you’ll be able to offer global conversations, for global conversions.

Be human

Add a human touch to a digital transaction by introducing yourself, using a real avatar and offering friendly but professional service. You’ll convert more if you do.

Offer video chat

Take control of the purchasing process by offering a video session. With video, you can demo the product, provide visual assistance, give a virtual tour, or simply offer face to face service online.

Be quick

A live chat user will rapidly lose interest if they don’t receive live responses. Always reply within 60 seconds, and use canned responses where relevant to save time on typing out answers to FAQ.

And be slick

Sloppy sentences don’t sell. Even though this is instant messaging, it’s still an opportunity to promote your brand and services. Don’t neglect grammar, and take advantage of inbuilt spell-check.

Preview the chat

Chat previews will allow you to see what the user is typing, before they even hit ‘send’. Capitalise on those insights to speed up your response window, and keep the lead hot.

Analyse chats for sentiment

Advanced chat software offers sentiment analysis, scoring chats for positive or negative feeling in real-time. So, use this to advance your sales efforts and identify your most likely leads.


By screen-sharing with live chat users, you can take a more hands-on approach with their web session, offering a level of assistance that makes the risk of site abandonment minimal.

Enable file transfers

Whether it’s a contract, a brochure, or a T&C agreement, the ability to share documents via chat session prevents channel disruption, making it quicker and easier to close a sales deal.

Ask questions

Find out why the user is visiting, what they’re looking for, and how they came across your site. The right questions will give you the right insights to target your potential customers.

Keep on top of workload

An agent taking on too many chats at once will miss opportunities. So will ones taking on too little. So, manage availability schedules to allow your agents to provide high quality chats that convert.

Did you know?

• 48% of online shoppers will abandon a purchase if their questions aren’t answered promptly

• 38% of customers have made a purchase due to a good live chat session itself

• Proactive chat earns 105% ROI

• 77% of online shoppers want to contact a real person before buying

• Chatters are worth 4.5x as much as website visitors who don’t chat

• 63% of shoppers prefer using a website with live chat for repeat purchases

— After the chat —

The session may be over, but there are still things you can do to drive sales. To increase your chat to sale conversion rate, you should:

Offer chat transcripts

By providing the user with a chat transcript, you give them a valuable bank of information to revisit in their own time – ensuring they have the details they need to progress.

Click to call

Add a ‘click to call’ button to the chat window after the chat is completed. In the vast majority of cases, visitors who call are ready to buy, and this button makes it that bit easier for them to do so.

Use chat feedback

By automatically sending post chat surveys, you’ll be able to ascertain user satisfaction with the service. That way, you’ll identify opportunities to optimise and convert more in future.

Auto-create leads in CRM

Use sentiment analysis and post chat surveys alongside CRM integration, populating your pipeline with data-rich prospects that contain all key chat information and site activity.

Sync chats to your knowledge base

Often, your chat transcripts will contain exemplary service examples. So, sync them to your knowledge base and retain all that reusable sales content, to close the deal quicker next time.

Analyse, analyse, analyse

What percentage of your chats convert into sales? What’s your highest performing dynamic invite content? Which time of day is best to chat? To make more sales, monitor your key metrics.

Did you know?

• Chatters buy, on average, 12% of the time

• 62% of consumers would purchase more products online if live support was available

• 94% of consumers say live help would be useful when making online purchases

— Wrap-up —

Remember, a live chat session is as an opportunity, not an onus. By treating it as such, you can start nurturing your web visitors into prospects, your prospects into customers, and your customers into loyal, higher-value spenders.

Useful links

• [ Infographic ] Live chat: a customer journey flowchart

• [ Ebook ] A live chat handbook: 50 tips for success

• Or, download the tips on using chat as a sales tool in this infographic