The days of WhatsApp as only a personal messaging tool are gone. Thanks to services such as WhatsApp for Business or the API, using the popular WhatsApp for sales no longer needs to be a back-alley clandestine pursuit.
This article explores the impact and importance of this shift on the sales process and the future of business-customer communication.
WhatsApp for Sales: Why it Works
Today, we are constantly relying on our phones to handle everyday tasks. It’s not uncommon to see people waiting in line or commuting while checking their to-do’s for the day, reading news, answering work-related messages on Slack, or just scrolling through TikTok. Smartphones help us manage our finances, do grocery shopping, organize our social lives, provide entertainment and, most importantly, keep us connected through instant messaging.
It’s no surprise that these little devices steal most of our attention.
One of the apps that accommodates our digital habits is WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is, by far, the most popular global messaging channel. It has a staggering 2 billion monthly active users — significantly more than any other app on the market — which gives it even better set up for success that using a Facebook Messenger bot for sales.
People all over the planet use it to easily connect with family and friends through smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, tablets, and even smartwatches. Indeed, WhatsApp is an extremely convenient and fast way (and probably also the cheapest) to get a hold of someone.
So it didn’t come as a surprise that Meta (the company that purchased and currently owns WhatsApp) started to open their application to brands — first with WhatsApp for Business App and later with Business API.
That begs the question, are people happy to let businesses on a channel that should be personal?
Well, WhatsApp did take quite a lot of care to protect its users and left it up to them to decide whether or not they wish to talk to a business via WhatsApp or not. Also, consumers might be more upset about it if only having your favorite businesses at your fingertips wasn’t so convenient.
So, most people opt-in and let businesses talk to them on a channel where they feel safe and comfortable. It is a place where they already hang out anyway, thus saving the little precious free time we have.
Will WhatsApp Business Change Old Sales Strategies?
Let’s give a bit of context to the habits of sales teams across the globe in the past decades.
You had a phone number, and calling was one of the best ways to establish a relationship with a client for a very long time. Once emails appeared, we watched them rise and become one of the best ways for businesses to communicate with existing or potential customers and get interesting KPIs from those interactions. However, as time passed, email and phone channels became oversaturated. As a result, many companies developed tools to block unwanted calls and emails or, simply, started to ignore them altogether, making it even more challenging to break the ice.
This is where using WhatsApp for sales comes into play!
It’s a new communication channel that can be implemented with minimal costs and has the extra benefit of being known to and used by consumers daily. App Annie reported that, on average, WhatsApp users (on the Android platform) spend 19.4 hours per month (38 minutes per day) using the app. Hence, it gives business owners a stronger base to create a more personal customer-brand relationship.
The evidence of this evolution changing how companies sell their products and interact with customers is in the numbers. Fifty million companies worldwide already have a WhatsApp Business account.
Sure, WhatsApp Business API users are more limited, but not for lack of demand. WhatsApp still limits access to the API and verifies each business carefully. After all, if they don’t want to lose their active users, they must make sure no company abuses the platform.
It is the strict way of preventing WhatsApp communication from becoming too “salesy” that is forcing companies to rethink how they approach customers.
So What is WhatsApp for Sales, and How is it Different from Calls, SMS, or Email?
WhatsApp has rapidly overtaken SMS messaging for its cost, speed, and ability to chat with people worldwide.
While WhatsApp Business and SMS function similarly, there are a few key differences:
- Consumers can only send and receive SMS messages between mobile phones. However, you can access WhatsApp messages on any device with an internet connection, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.
- With companies focusing more and more on a global scale, with WhatsApp Business, you can chat with anyone in the world virtually for free. On the other hand, mobile carriers commonly charge monthly fees for their texting service with extra costs for international messages. WhatsApp messages bypass SMS roaming fees or fluctuating carrier costs because they’re delivered as an OTT messaging platform, making it ideal for a client base in different regions.
- SMS messages can be sent to any mobile phone, regardless of carrier, while WhatsApp messages are limited to device owners with a WhatsApp account. Ultimately, using a template for WhatsApp message, and sending WhatsApp messages is only useful if your customer base is active on the platform or as a fallback messaging option (customers receive these messages if SMS is undelivered.)
And, when it comes to calls and emails:
- Calling will always be limited due to the scheduling issues with different time zones, the sales team’s location and working hours, and most importantly, the customer’s availability to answer. WhatsApp text or voice messages allow for asynchronicity, meaning the customer can reply at their convenience without listing track of the conversation.
Most people use work and personal emails, where they already receive a lot of newsletters and other information. Hence any business communication can go unnoticed, ignored, or end up in the spam folder, blocking the opportunity to generate a reaction from the customer side. If you check the stats, WhatsApp open rate ranges from 80-99%. Moreover, about 80% of WhatsApp messages are seen within 5 minutes of delivery (that might have something to do with the fact that an average user checks their WhatsApp 23 times a day).
By using WhatsApp, businesses are able to come closer to their customers in a conversation that is not one-sided.
Furthermore, every business must create a WhatsApp Business Profile. It’s an added opportunity to communicate your unique business identity that channels your brand elements into your WhatsApp conversations. You can add contact numbers, website URLs, store locations, promotional details, and more. WhatsApp Business also lets you send images, videos, audio recordings, and documents, making it as close to a normal chat as possible. Using an API, you can take the communications even further and send unlimited automated messages that can initiate a live chat or an automated conversational sequence (a chatbot) that can offer customer support or provide product recommendations.
To finish all with a cherry on top, and a fundamental one, WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption which is what makes it so trusted. Hence, if employed correctly, WhatsApp messaging can take your business communications to a whole new level of engagement: private, real-time B2C conversations delivered on the world’s preferred messaging app.
Does this Mean Calls, Emails, and SMS are Irrelevant?
Calls, email, and SMS have long been the most common channels businesses use to connect with their existing as well as potential customers. They are effective channels in their own right. But messaging apps like WhatsApp have capabilities that allow you to significantly impact customer satisfaction. All that while expanding your reach, improving deliverability, managing support costs, increasing conversions, sharpening security, and achieving other important business KPIs.
The same way digital marketing gives brands and businesses data that informs where they should be investing for the best results, WhatsApp allows you to know if and when your messages have been received or read. Thus, it gives you valuable feedback on your delivery and messaging efforts which allows for a quick analysis of the strategy.
Additionally, if you are using a WhatsApp bot, you can use WhatsApp message templates and the automated conversations to collect additional information such as product preferences, behaviors, or valuable feedback.
Take, for example, this company from Dubai offering learning and entertainment activities for kids that created a bot to streamline customer acquisition and improve retainment. Through WhatsApp, potential and existing customers can learn about dates, locations, and activities of the holiday camps on offer, make specific birthday party requests, update their child’s info, become a referral partner, learn about and arrange sports coaching lessons and even be transferred to a human employee when the conversation requires it:
Or, take NiceHop, a mobile-oriented travel company that delivers personalized travel bargains via WhatsApp. Their bot, Hoppi, gives users the option to check out the bargain of the day (“chollo del día”) or find a bargain based on their specifications, such as the airport of departure and preferred dates. A daily reminder that wouldn’t be very welcome with email.
If you want to see more examples like the ones above, check out our list of real WhatsApp bot examples.
Email and phone are still valid and useful channels to communicate with your prospective as well as existing customers. However, WhatsApp opens up many new avenues of opportunities. It enables you to turn what’s usually a one-way communication into an interaction that can be asynchronous and completely at the convenience of the customer and thus, inspiring customer loyalty and engagement.
Using WhatsApp for sales, marketing, and customer support allows for real-time data exchange and processing. It also enables customers to stay in touch without stepping out of their comfort zone.
- Collect data with variables, personalize with conditional logic, make calculations with formulas, build chatbot flows without coding like it’s a game of LEGO.
- Let your team handle all conversations or use your WhatsApp bots to pre-screen and manage bot-to-human handoff to assign conversations to specific agents.
Please contact our team and book a demo to see this in action.