In 2018, WhatsApp came out with its Business API, which allows businesses to drive their growth strategies by using the messaging app for sales, marketing, customer service, and more.
However, many businesses are still missing out on the full potential of WhatsApp by using it in an ad hoc, individual manner, especially among their sales team members.
In this article, we’ll explain why salespeople are drawn to WhatsApp but, more importantly, why integrating the WhatsApp Business API into your sales strategy can bring significant advantages.
The Appeal of WhatsApp for Sales
People all over the world use their smartphones for any number of reasons, from scrolling on social media, keeping track of tasks, reading the news, and, of course, staying in touch with other people through instant messaging apps.
It’s no surprise, then, that messaging apps — and WhatsApp in particular — are an appealing channel for sales representatives.
Familiarity & Accessibility
Salespeople often turn to WhatsApp because it's a messaging platform that both they and their prospects are familiar with.
In fact, it’s the most popular messaging channel in the world, with 2 billion monthly active users. That’s significantly more than any other app on the market, which gives using WhatsApp for sales higher chances of success than, for example, using Facebook Messenger.
But it’s not just a matter of numbers. WhatsApp is a preferred app to connect with family and friends both on our smartphones and computers. Users are familiar with and accustomed to it, turning to WhatsApp several times a day. For businesses, it’s a convenient way to get hold of prospects, since they’re likely to check it much more often than email.
Another appealing aspect of WhatsApp is that it offers real-time communication, which works in sales’ favor.
Instead of leaving prospects waiting for a reply to an email, sales representatives can quickly respond to their inquiries, provide instant information, and promptly address any concerns.
We know that slow lead response times are one of the reasons for low conversion rates and that 78% of leads end up buying from the business that responds to their inquiries first. WhatsApp’s real-time nature makes it the ideal channel for addressing leads’ doubts on the spot, speeding up the sales process, and, ideally, turning them into customers.
If you look at your WhatsApp conversations, they’re likely not just text-based. The messaging app allows you to exchange images and photos, videos, GIFs, voice messages, documents, and more. It’s, in part, what makes WhatsApp so appealing.
These multimedia files could be shared as an attachment to an email or as a link, but that implies leaving your email app or tab to view them. That’s not the case on WhatsApp, where even YouTube videos can be watched in the same window just by pressing play.
So, what’s in it for sales representatives?
WhatsApp’s media capabilities enable them to share product images, videos, or brochures in real time, which makes it easier to showcase the product or service they’re selling.
The Limitations of Individual WhatsApp Usage
While WhatsApp offers several benefits for sales, using it on an individual basis can create problems as well. Let’s have a look at some key limitations of that usage.
Data Fragmentation & Silos
Data silos are another reason why your conversion rates might be low.
They’re a set of information that can only be accessed by certain members or teams in your company and they occur when information is stored across different places according to what software, platform, or other tool each department uses to manage data.
So, why are they likely to happen through individual WhatsApp usage by your sales representatives?
Each salesperson using WhatsApp individually generates separate data sets on their own phones or computers. That means that conversations, leads, and client information will be scattered across different devices and accounts. This fragmentation makes it challenging to gain an overview of prospect interactions and preferences, as well as of the sales process being used.
Tracking sales activities is important to monitor and analyze the sales process, as well as give visibility to how the sales team is working and be able to make better decisions based on that.
So, your sales efforts should include a way to track your sales representatives’ interactions with prospects in an effort to better capture and track leads, visualize the entire sales pipeline, manage contact information, and gather insights for reporting.
Individual WhatsApp usage by your sales team members leads to data silos, which also means there’s no centralized system to track sales activities and outcomes. When this happens, managers struggle to monitor and evaluate their team's performance effectively, hindering strategic decision-making.
WhatsApp prides itself on taking a lot of care to protect users' privacy and letting them decide whether or not they wish to be contacted by a business via WhatsApp. This is only possible, however, if those businesses use either the WhatsApp Business App or the WhatsApp Business API to communicate with prospects.
If a sales team’s members are using their private WhatsApp accounts to do business, there’s no guarantee that they will respect users’ space and preferences in the app. They also won’t have an option to opt out of those communications.
This kind of individual WhatsApp usage may also pose compliance risks. Even though WhatsApp messages have end-to-end encryption, it can be challenging to ensure that sales conversations are aligned with company policies and any legal requirements.
Lack of Automation
Finally, a regular WhatsApp account will only take you so far, as it offers no automation capabilities.
So, if you’re looking to use it to automatically send follow-up messages to your lead, or to implement a lead generation chatbot, you’ll need to upgrade your account. Switching to the Business API will allow you to make the best use of WhatsApp for sales.
Making the Switch to the WhatsApp API
To overcome the limitations of individual WhatsApp usage by your sales representatives, you should consider integrating the WhatsApp Business API into your sales strategy. It will enable you to add a layer of automation to the messaging app, along with other advantages.
Automation and Efficiency
The WhatsApp Business API enables the automation of various sales processes.
Businesses can set up chatbots to handle:
- Lead generation and qualification: WhatsApp chatbots can interact with potential leads and ask qualifying questions to determine if they are a good fit for the company's products or services. This can then help prioritize leads for follow-up by sales reps.
- Appointment scheduling: Automated appointment scheduling through WhatsApp allows prospects to book calls, demos, or consultations with your sales team at their convenience, without the back-and-forth communication typically needed to find a suitable time for everyone.
- Follow-up and nurturing: Automated messaging sequences can be used to nurture leads or prospects as they move along your sales funnel. These messages can offer valuable information, educational content, reminders, and anything else your business finds suitable to keep leads engaged.
- Feedback collection: After an interaction with a prospect, businesses can automate feedback collection through WhatsApp. Even if the lead ends up not converting, this feedback provides helpful information to improve the sales process and enhance the experience.
- Product recommendations: If your leads have already converted, based on their behavior and preferences, WhatsApp can be used to send automated product recommendations, cross-sell or upsell suggestions, and personalized offers to boost sales.
WhatsApp automation reduces your sales representatives’ workload by handling these tasks, allowing them to focus on more complex ones, increasing their efficiency, and, ultimately, guaranteeing that leads receive timely responses and are properly nurtured during the sales process.
Centralized Data & Improved Collaboration
Using the WhatsApp Business API allows you to centralize data and insights.
Unlike with individual usage or even with the Business App, the API offers businesses the chance to associate multiple WhatsApp numbers to their official account and manage all those numbers, as well as the conversations associated with them, under one roof.
Additionally, the Business API allows you to create multiple agent seats, regardless of how many phone numbers are associated with your account, and they’re able to access conversations they’re had with prospects from multiple devices.
Having all communications with prospects stored in one place provides a clearer overview of the interactions between them and your sales representatives, and this unified data is useful for making informed decisions about the sales process.
Not just that, but this breaks down the data silos we’ve talked about before, and makes it possible to easily share information with other departments like marketing or customer service. This improves team collaboration and ensures that the different teams have a consistent approach to prospects and clients.
Analytics & Reporting
The WhatsApp Business API provides robust analytics and reporting capabilities.
Sales managers can track performance metrics, such as the number of messages sent, how many prospects replied, how much they engaged with the content received, and more. This helps them gain valuable insights into how leads behave on the channel, which allows for continuous improvement of their WhatsApp sales strategies.
In addition to the data you can collect from the WhatsApp app directly, you can also use the API to connect to other tools you might use, including your CRM and other analytics platforms, so that you can easily transfer data to whatever system you use.
Implementing the WhatsApp Business API into Your Sales Strategy
So, if you’re convinced that the WhatsApp Business API is the next logical step for your sales team, there are a few things to consider.
First, you should choose the WhatsApp Business solution provider (BSP) that better fits your business requirements and needs. You can apply to the API directly, but working with a BSP, such as Landbot, will get you approved faster and require much less work on your part.
If you want to learn more about the full application process, you can read our WhatsApp Business API guide, or watch this video:
Then, once you have everything set up, you should provide training to your sales team. Even though it’s still WhatsApp, sending messages via the Business API is not the same as sending them from the app on their phones. You’ll need to ensure they learn the ins and outs of the platform, as well as understand all features and automation capabilities, to make sure they’re using it to its full potential.
After that, you can start building WhatsApp chatbots that will streamline your sales interactions.
You can build these chatbots using artificial intelligence, Landbot’s no-code, rule-based mechanics, or a combination of the two. Which one is more suitable will depend on your use case and which tasks you want to automate.
Finally, to make sure you’re putting the WhatsApp Business API to its best use for your sales team, you need to continuously monitor its performance. You should look at the data of how all lead interactions are performing, as well as gather feedback from your sales team to clearly identify any areas that might need improvement.
WhatsApp has already established itself as a valuable tool for sales professionals. However, it is by integrating the WhatsApp Business API into your sales strategy that you can unlock its full potential.
By leveraging all the benefits it brings, from automation to centralized data, you can improve your sales team’s efficiency, drive more sales, and push your business growth.
Start exploring the possibilities of WhatsApp automation today, and subscribe to our WhatsApp-led Growth channel to get regular updates on how to make the most of WhatsApp for your business.