Build relationships, not lists.
That’s a core tenant of modern sales techniques and it is an especially useful motto for thinking about the benefits that asynchronous communications offer your sales team. You can be a better partner to marketing, customer service, management, and your customers by talking to people the way they want and making plenty of content available for when they’re ready.
Asynchronous communication is all about doing the challenging work ahead of time so that your customers can get messaging when they’re most receptive. They set the pace. You just get ready to close. To understand what makes it work that way, and why it can be simple, let’s define our terms and put together some tips and best practices for your team.
What are synchronous and asynchronous communication?
You likely use asynchronous communication all the time without thinking of it as such. It’s a precise term, but not one that’s spoken that often. The same is true for synchronous communication. So, let’s get a quick definition of each out of the way.
Asynchronous communication is any type of communication that happens when not everyone is present or active at the same time. The participants gain information typically on their schedule, allowing for flexibility in how people interact and how media, communication, and other elements are consumed. Asynchronous communication covers a mountain of different topics and communication types, from emails and text messages to chatbots, Slack notes, listening to your favorite podcast, and even recorded video.
In most cases, social media is going to be asynchronous, too. That’s because you blast out your message and then people see it when it populates on their timelines and respond. Even if you’re having a two-way conversation, it is still considered asynchronous if you’re not using the app and talking at the same time. The notification element of these communication types — which is especially common on apps — is a big clue that your communication is asynchronous.
So, synchronous is any communication that happens when everyone is engaged and present at the same time. You’re in a meeting, on the phone, or on that Zoom call where it’s all happening in real time. This may or may not include instant messaging depending on how active and available everyone is. Generally, it’s good to think about this as communication where if someone doesn’t hear something, they have to ask for a repetition to get the missed info.
A quick sales caveat
One important thing to note, especially for sales, is that your communication style can shift from synchronous to asynchronous in a heartbeat. Likely the most common situation where this occurs is when you’re calling someone, and they don’t answer so you’re forced to leave a voicemail. Or, someone might miss a meeting and you follow up via email.
Preparing both synchronous and asynchronous communications for each step in the buyer’s journey or your overall funnel can help you prepare for when these shifts happen.
This even happens when you create a specific sales webinar but want to use it as an on-demand presentation afterwards. Knowing that purpose will help you craft content and interactions within the presentation. If you go that route, be sure to have a quality video editing tool to help you clean up anything or remove portions where you’re discussing the specifics of any one client.
You can learn more about what these mean for teams and how to use them internally with our blog post here.
Why is asynchronous communication essential to sales?
Asynchronous communication has become an increasingly large player in sales and marketing thanks to the Internet. Your customers are consuming a broad set of info on your and your competitors, all at their leisure. The coronavirus pandemic has only increased the level of that consumption at different hours and through different mediums.
Sales has to prepare to meet people where they want to be, instead of forcing them to communicate in a specific way.
Think of your own experience. Let’s say there’s a quick question that you have while browsing a service or product. How would you feel if you had to schedule a call to get an answer to a single question? Would you be more or less likely to continue researching the service?
There’s a good chance that forcing this type of synchronous communication will drive customers away unless they’re looking for detailed information that’s specific to their company.
So, for sales, synchronous communication is focused heavily on landing the sale and finalizing the contract. For SaaS, that often means determining the number of users, discussing installation and integrations, and determining service and support.
Asynchronous communication does all the work before this. It sets you up for the final sales call by providing information to the customer ahead of time. Your asynchronous efforts are everywhere, from your website pages and blogs to videos and social posts, and even automated chatbots, webinars, and eBooks.
For you to get to the point-of-sale, your asynchronous game has to be on point and effective.
Tip 1: Place a priority on information
Asynchronous communications are only successful when they have all of the necessary, useful information your customers need. Whether it’s a custom email or your landing pages, you need to deliver a strong message that addresses customer concerns.
So, your goal is to offer all the information someone needs for the basic follow-up questions. Think about how you can leverage a knowledge base or FAQ across multiple interactions and communication points.
If you think about ecommerce clothing sales, for example, some of the most important pieces of pre-sale information are going to be size and color charts. Instead of burying these in a separate page, most now put this right next to the “buy” buttons so the shopper doesn’t have to navigate away. The most relevant and useful information is given a priority and helps inform a sale.
Let’s say your sales process happens via a drip campaign, where you provide information and try to get someone to schedule a demo. Those emails need to provide specific information about how the demo happens, including the deadline for the customer to act — especially important if you run any sales or discounts in these campaigns.
Chatbots on websites can be a wonderful way to ensure you have all of this information available. They can be trained to take your company information and build responses for customers. Leads can even be qualified by chatbots through automation and triggers asking for email addresses or providing discounts.
Information is a core part of the asynchronous sales technique. Being stingy with it can hurt your chances of landing that lead.
Tip 2: Include a specific ask that leads can take
What do you want to get out of the communication? What steps should your audience take when it’s over?
Those two questions should define any asynchronous strategy. The first sets a clear purpose for your effort, regardless of content type, and should help you drive toward a message. It also ensures you’re using the right KPIs or other metrics to evaluate success. Remember, tailor what you want to the location in the sales funnel.
The second question is there to guide what you ask of the customer. You’ll want them to do something specific and your communication should make it clear how to take those steps. In remote sales, we’re often thinking of joining a webinar, requesting an eBook, or signing up for a demo in the early and middle stages of a funnel. These are clear and you can tie them to a specific benefit — watch this 5-minute demo to learn 3 ways to increase productivity 15%.
Defining the step you want them to take makes it easy to keep your ask short, sweet, and specific.
The important part of this for asynchronous efforts is that the ask must be something your audience can do whenever they get the communication. So, any time that they open their email, get a chatbot notice, see your post on social, and so on. Having an actionable step that can be accomplished at any given moment is one reason you’re seeing a lot of on-demand webinars and content behind forms. It can provide people with immediate value while also signaling intent because the customer completes the action.
Tip 3: Blend it with synchronous actions when appropriate
From a customer’s perspective, chat software can be amazing. It helps you get the specific answer you need on any given page, prevents you from having to dig through a big FAQ section, and can even get you immediate help from a human, eliminating the wait of email and the terrible music of a phone call.
Adding chatbots to your site can deliver a wealth of information, all asynchronously. But the magic is when you have live support behind it for customer service and sales agents who can take over and get into the specifics.
The biggest benefit for you is that customers are immediately moving through your sales funnel. They’re taking an active step that gets them closer to buying by giving you a chance to remove questions and make your case. Plus, they’re reaching out to you — which is a great signifier of purchase intent!
By offering platforms that blend both synchronous and asynchronous communication, you give customers what they want and allow them to specify it. As an added bonus, when people want immediate answers, 92% customers are satisfied using live chat services instead of other support channels (email, social, phone, etc.).
That same review of data notes that 44% of online shoppers say having a live person there to answer questions during an online purchase is “the most important feature a website can offer.”
Tip 4: Always add value
Asynchronous campaigns and efforts are easy to program, set, and forget. That leads some companies and sales teams to try and use them for multiple touchpoints, without necessarily reviewing them to see if they address customer needs at those points.
If you’re sending someone multiple emails, chats, or other things that don’t help, they’re going to tune you out.
So, your mission is to always add value in your asynchronous campaigns, starting from the first point in your funnel. The initial interaction should include something useful. This might not even be about your product. Discuss the customer pain point and provide general information or tips related to that. Build trust by being helpful.
The reason that it’s important to think about value in your asynchronous efforts is because you can’t focus on every element of a funnel all the time. A/B testing the bottom messaging to optimize conversions often requires that you leave the top of the funnel alone. It’s hard to evaluate the long-term success of a new lead magnet or tripwire if your final messaging and deals are always changing.
So, sizable portions of your funnel are going to remain static at any given time. By ensuring that you provide valuable information or content at each point when they’re created, you’re putting your best foot forward at these different steps.
One thing that we like is building video content for specific value propositions and questions. It’s easy to create and personalize — for target segments and markets — while remaining useful. Plus, you can link to it from multiple touchpoints, so a customer can get an answer to their question even if it breaks the normal rhythm of your buyer’s journey map.
A sales video focused on a single topic or tip be live on a blog, shared on social, give you an SEO boost from YouTube, inserted into email, or shared via a chatbot or helpdesk.
Tip 5: Get creative
Few things allow for more flexibility than asynchronous communication. Your favorite thing is probably asynchronous! Whether that’s video games, a movie, a great album, the newest TV show, Netflix binge, or even a favorite book.
Asynchronous communication is broad, diverse, and encompasses more than you could image. So, have a little fun with it.
You can show people using your product or achieving goals with the latest pop culture references or in absurd situations. Mirror a favorite story or style and create something that feels like your brand. Asynchronous is designed to be consumed much in the same way that we’re consuming other media — that’s one reason so many companies are now doing their own podcasts and not just sponsoring some.
Zight (formerly CloudApp) is designed to help you get a little creative and share this with customers and your team. Say you put together an amazing video. With screen capturing and recording, you can create simple snips to embed on a variety of pages or add to your chatbot. Turn the best frames into a GIF and use that as a reaction on social media.
There’s a lot you can do. Embrace what works best for your brand and have a little fun with it. Plus, Zight (formerly CloudApp) is here to help you get started with a free trial, so there’s no risk or concern as you branch out into something new.