If you want your sales team to convert more leads, you’re probably looking a number of different tactics.
But here’s one that might not be top of mind: Respond faster to your customers.
How? If your team is overwhelmed with the amount of email they’re getting from prospects, it can really help to streamline your sales operation, especially as it relates to email communication.
Shared inboxes (also called collaborative email or collaborative inboxes) can help your sales force work more cohesively and collaboratively as a team, while also pushing them to meet their individual goals and deadlines. Shared inboxes are usually identifiable by their email address: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than something like JohnDoe@yourcompany.com
The key is reimagining how your sales team responds to pre-sale email leads. Not only will your team send better emails, but they’ll also be able to reply both faster and better, with personalized emails that can increase conversion rates and customer retention.
Shared inboxes help increase conversions and sales
With the right tools that allow you to assign emails, discuss messages using private, internal notes, and pull from customizable templates, a shared inbox is about nuts-and-bolts, here-and-now, turn-leads-into-customers, good-ole-fashioned sales growth.
After all, even the most dedicated sales team member can’t catch every email lead. A shared inbox spreads responsibility and eyes-on readiness across the entire team. That way, whenever one team member is unavailable, another can keep communication timely with potential new customers.
Collaborative email means there’s always someone to keep an eye on the inbox
“You gain quicker responses with more eyes throughout the day,” says John Procopio, director of eCommerce and Digital Marketing at Palo Alto Software.
“A sales team can democratize the monitoring of the inbox—even among offices if they’re in different locales—so there’s always an eager, warm body to receive and process the initial sales request.”
Internal discussions in a shared inbox drive solid bids and proposals
By having team-only notes directly on an email, team members can also work together on helping one another craft better and more timely proposals and estimates.
“Because sales leads can loop in the right individual subject matter expert easily,” says John, “they can begin to get immediate feedback from their team in the lightest way possible to begin putting together notes for a proposal.”
Shared inbox tools also give at-a-glance access to the full email history with each customer When your team needs to work together on an email, internal notes also help everyone get up to speed quickly.
By having internal discussions around the same email that everyone is looking at, team members can offer their expertise and perspective, to help make the person working with the customer more likely to close the sale.
“Someone with more background and experience can chime in with value-added thoughts more easily,” explains John. “What would have taken lots of email forwards and in-person drop-ins, now, via a couple of email assignments, they can start to get technical, creative, and/or strategic feedback for this potential client in minutes, not days.” And those internal notes will remain associated with the customer, so you’re not lost in some Slack thread.
Streamline communication and reduce reply time
Just as the customer service team may use email templates to address common customer questions or situations, your sales team can leverage templates too. Templates can help team members get a customer started on the overall sales process. Or, if certain products, services, or prospect personas have their own process, templates can help you provide consistent details quickly, keeping the customer engaged and more likely to do business with you.
Customizable email templates help your sales team spend less time on nuts-and-bolts typing, and more time hitting send—and marking up new business instead.
“Depending on the industry, the use of templates can almost always be a boon,” says John. “Leverage the template and then personalize it. For non-technical, somewhat similar sales orders this could be a huge win in terms of consistency, time back to the recipient, and overall results.”
Consistent messaging and no more missed opportunities
With collaborative email, team leaders and managers can assign emails. They can also track status with at-a-glance visibility of who is dealing with an email and which emails need to be assigned to a team member.
“Assignments take the guesswork out of who’s going to respond,” says John. “Assignment from a sales lead means a response will probably come much quicker.”
Monitoring the shared inbox plus overall sales also helps managers keep tabs on key metrics for how the team as a whole and individual team members are performing. Templates and notes also ensure that sales have another quality essential in customer satisfaction: consistency. After all, no potential or current customer likes it when they contact a company and get different responses from different people.
“The manager or lead can get that final eyes-on every draft before it’s sent,” says John. “No more sales guy A saying one thing and sales guy B saying something entirely different. Consistent info and details lead to better conversions.”
How to address sales team concerns
Despite the advantages of a collaborative inbox, your sales team may still have some reservations. It’ll be essential to demonstrate that the goal is to balance encouraging a team environment where salespeople work together and help one another, while also maintaining individual performance goals.
“They may be concerned that leads will be qualified differently if there is one overall manager versus simple routing rules,” says John.
When selecting and implementing your new shared inbox, highlight to your team how this type of tool can help everyone get back to prospects faster and more thoroughly. Also, check your compensation structures and ask team members about any concerns they might have about lead poaching or making sure they get due credit for the sale they work on.
If your industry has confidentiality requirements or regulations to comply with, make sure your training incorporates how team members can maintain that confidentiality while also working together to get the customer what they need.
A collaborative inbox is a tool that’ll need some initial training, but it will quickly yield benefits in response time and conversion. By addressing team member concerns, you can also get them on board with a tool that can help them close more deals, get back to prospects faster, and know that their team members have each others’ backs.
Encourage open, respectful discussion of deals and the particulars of a prospect. Expectations can rise along with performance though, and team leaders need to also be ready to address concerns about sales and revenue targets.
“Their boss will expect more of them,” says John. “Either with existing sales relationships or new ones, the sales lead has more levers to play with at the initial, incoming request level. She might start tinkering with optimizing her sales team’s responses, territories, etc., based on how their responses begin to play out more overtly in real-time via the tool.”
Leverage collaborative email as a broader sales collaboration tool
A shared inbox can also help sales liaise with other departments, such as marketing or customer service. By getting timely input from other teams, sales can more realistically meet customer expectations and balance that with what the organization can provide. When interacting with prospects online or on the phone, customer service can also steer leads into the funnel, and give a heads-up to sales.
“Customer service teams could leverage chat on the marketing sites better to invite a discussion with a prospect and actually encourage the prospective client to send a proposal into the sales email,” says John. “So, working synergistically with the customer services folks on the website can drive even more leads.”
From an individual sales team member to the broader organization, a shared inbox isn’t just a collaboration tool, it’s a sales tool. When sales teams work together through a shared inbox, they can convert more leads, send better and faster replies, and increase revenue both for their individual goals and for the overall team.