Meet Your Buyers Where They Are - Consumers Prefer SMS & Text
Guide to episode
- Buyers increasingly prefer text communications with vendors
- SMS Sales and Marketing has applications in machinery and industrial sales
- Don't just leave it to your reps to manage personally - integrate SMS technology into your CRM
- Serve your prospects and customers based on their preferences, not yours
Hi, I’m Ed Marsh. Welcome to this episode of Signals from the OP.
SMS Sales & Marketing Statistics
Today we’re going to start with some statistics about text marketing and sales. You might also hear it called SMS for short messaging service.
- 98% of text messages are opened vs. 20% of email
- 95% of texts are read and responded to within 3 minutes
- 90% of consumers prefer to communicate with businesses via text
- While less than 20% of people answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize or aren’t expecting, text messages are read on average in less than five seconds
- 77% of consumers have a positive impression of companies offering to text
- 76% of millennials love texting
These stats are compiled in an interesting article on EnterpriseAppsToday.com1 that I've linked below.
Let’s unpack them in the context of B2B industrial and capital equipment marketing and sales.
First, my guess is that your initial reactions include “that can’t be right. I hate texting” and “yeah, but that’s mostly about consumer products. It’s B2C. It’s different in our world.” Remember, of course, that we heard similar protestations about websites, email, and more.
I’d respond a couple of ways.
First, we’re each individuals. We should be careful about projecting our preferences onto everyone else. You might decide that you don’t want your business to add text marketing and sales, but make that decision based on some objective, informed criteria and not just your preference which you assume everyone else shares.
Second, every B2B buyer is also a B2C consumer and what we’ve seen happen repeatedly with technology and buyer behaviors/preferences is that consumer experiences shape expectations for business buyer experiences. B2B catches up. Or said differently, businesses that recognize and adopt and adapt consumer best practices often leapfrog ahead of competitors.
Finally, at the intersection of these two is a generational difference. Most B2B companies are now selling to rising generations of operations and engineering folks that are millennials and even Gen Z who are accustomed to and comfortable with texting. Just because the silverback running a company doesn’t like it, ignores what the majority of your buyers prefer.
What Does the Growth of SMS Sales and Marketing Mean for Capital Equipment Sales?
So let’s stipulate that it’s coming. What does that mean for machinery sales? Like chat bots and live chat which power conversational marketing and conversational sales, there are marketing and sales implications to SMS. From a marketing angle – by which I mean bulk sends or robotexts - “spam” and unsolicited texting is regulated much like email.
The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and Can-Spam Act provide the regulations. There’s nuance subject to interpretation for both. Make sure you check with your own advisors for specific answers, but in general the regulations on robotexts apply only to advertisement (not existing relationships or transactions), and say that opt-in must capture explicit intent and offer a way to unsubscribe. Some of today’s texting regulations harken back to a time when the cost of each incoming message was material. The regulations always need a bit of time to catch up with technology.
The practical reality is that marketers are known for abusing and eventually ruining all good things – think about how you probably loathe your email inbox now. The most important consideration is to make any SMS marketing about your customers and prospects and their issues, not you and your products, and to use an appropriate tone tempo.
From an SMS sales angle, just like “one-off” emails in sequences and cadences, “one-off” texts are much less regulated. Sales’ prospecting job is to engage and to get a meeting. Abusing any channel reduces that likelihood, so SMS sales strategies should be built around guidelines for well-written and appropriately sent messages.
That being said, given the preference of buyers to communicate with text messages, it makes sense that you’d want your sales team to use the tool. And many do, probably from their personal or business-provided mobile device. Unfortunately, that approach misses some opportunities.
For instance, the ability to include SMS messages to be sent automatically as part of outbound prospecting cadences, integration with your marketing automation and/or CRM and sales acceleration platforms, and the ability to capture text conversations automatically in CRM (or even include text replies in lead scoring calculations.)
That argues for incorporating some B2B SMS sales tools into your tech stack. Tools like SalesMsg and SimpleTexting are inexpensive and easily integrated into your sales process, workflow and tech stack.
The bottom line is that buyers prefer SMS communication in many cases. Therefore our preference is secondary. B2B texting for marketing, and especially for sales, are growing quickly and beginning to impact industrial and capital equipment sales. You can lament that, or you can embrace it and empower your team with the tools and techniques they need to please buyers and improve results.
It’s time to incorporate SMS Sales and texting into your B2B revenue growth toolkit.
I’m Ed Marsh. If you found value in this episode of Signals from the OP check out the full playlist and maybe even like it, share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog SignalsFromTheOP.com.