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Texting Etiquette For Salespeople: Dos, Don’ts and ‘It Depends’

Texting Etiquette For Salespeople: Dos, Don’ts and ‘It Depends’

Follow texting etiquette for Salespeople by using the following as guidelines to help along the way, but also make them your own.

No one was given a rule book when text messaging features were added to our smartphones. As with almost every other major wave in communications technology, adoption happened organically. People tried it out, saw the value, and started to text more often.

Make that a lot more often.

Today, you might get texts from friends and family almost from the moment you wake up until the time you go to bed.

Many of us are on “group texts,” where a cluster of friends or family members text each other as though they’re having a long in-person conversation with breaks in between.

The emojis, GIFs, photos and videos you can add to a text makes the medium not only fast and easy, but fun.

For salespeople, text messaging can also serve as a nimble way to keep in touch with their customers — though there are some risks involved.

Text a customer too often and they might stop responding, or reply with an angry request to quit texting them at all. Text a customer at the wrong moment — such as when they’re in the middle of a business meeting — and you might interrupt the flow of their work. Text a customer outside of regular business hours and you might be disrupting the time they hoped to devote exclusively to their friends or family.

Companies don’t necessarily craft specific policies around texting customers because the unwritten rules can be slightly different depending on the customer in question.

Some of them might use text as one of their preferred channels. Others might never text. It’s different than using text to work better together as a sales team.

It’s up to you as the salesperson to use your best judgement and develop a sense of etiquette that will be appropriate for the majority of your customer conversations.

Use the following as guidelines to help along the way, but also make them your own:

Do: Set the ground rules from the beginning

Let’s say you met the customer via a phone call. Later, you might have made your initial pitch in person, or through a videoconferencing session.

In many cases a buying decision won’t be made right away, and you both know you’ll be reconnecting later. This is a good time to be upfront and ask: “Can I text you?” If they say yes, see if there are any ideal times to use text, or times you should avoid.

Don’t: Text to avoid them in another channel

If you’re in the middle of a call with one customer and another one rings through, it’s okay to use auto-response texts such as, “I’ll call you right back.”

If the customer has left a voicemail asking to go over concerns about pricing or timelines, though, don’t reply with a text. Call them back, because they may be expecting more of a live exchange.

The same is true of other channels. You will encounter some customers who essentially live in their email inbox, because they like being able to track conversations with all the various links and attachments that are part of a thread. Texting them might make them feel they have to go back and forth through both channels, which creates friction.

Do: Text when the expectation is speed and responsiveness

Customers seldom make big purchasing decisions alone, especially in B2B. They will often have to take a proposed purchase to their manager or even people in other departments before the go-ahead is given.

Imagine your customer in a meeting with their boss, and the boss has a burning question about the item they want to buy. The customer might text you while they’re still in the meeting. The faster you respond, the higher the chances you’ll be able to close that deal.

Err on the side of texting when the speed of the medium benefits the customer, rather than serving your own interests. Which brings us to:

Don’t: Use text as a nudge

“Hi, just following up. Any other questions?”

Customers know exactly what this kind of text means. You’re impatient and want the deal to move along. They might not be able to accommodate you, and the text will not help matters.

The trade-off of texting is that we tend to write messages that are sometimes shorter than they should be. Texting a customer something like, “Any updates?” could sound like you’re trying to manage them, rather than serving them.

Try calling if you want to show emotional support for any obstacles they’re facing during their journey with you. Send helpful assets like buyer’s guides or a case study via email. Strive to add value, rather than just following up.

It Depends: Texting a customer with bad news

You’re sold out of the product the customer wants. You can’t give them the preferred pricing or discount they were hoping for. The shipment will be later than expected.

Simply texting this information, without any additional context or proposed offer to make things better, will disappoint customers and hamper their experience. In some cases, though, customers urgently need to report back to their team about the purchase they’re hoping to make.

They might not have wanted the bad news, but getting it quickly via text could save them from falling behind on a project, or not having enough time to figure something else out.

When there’s no other option but to text bad news, think about following up with more details in another channel as soon as possible.

Do: Text your gratitude

Customers may sign off on a deal and send everything back via email. In other cases you might have a few details that play out over the phone, in person or on a video call.

When there’s nothing else left to do, a quick “thank you” text is a short but simple way to let them know you’re glad they’ve become a customer, and to make sure they know they can still count on you and your company’s help long after the sale.

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