Net companies have had one serious disadvantage over their brick-and-mortar peers when it comes to selling their wares: the plucky and ever-present sales assistant. At least that’s the view of application service provider LivePerson Inc., which attempted to resolve that quandary Monday by announcing the general availability of its LivePerson Sales Edition software, which allows companies to add sales people to their virtual storefronts via interactive chat.
LivePerson Sales Edition combines chat capabilities with real-time monitoring, offering companies the ability to track “hot prospects” on their site and engage them in an instant message (IM) chat.
Company representatives can capture visitors’ actions, such as Web pages visited and the amount of time spent viewing each page, allowing them to target customers who are likely to buy. In addition to sending instant messages to potential clients, representatives can also direct content at visitors and generate automated online marketing campaigns using the customer information it collects.
“There are tens of thousands of prospects on companies’ Web sites and we are providing them with the capability to reach out,” said Tony Pante, senior vice-president of product strategy at LivePerson. “You need to put people in the Web process and humanize it,” he added.
The software also tracks the visitor’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, allowing it to detect repeat visitors, and archives chat sessions which representatives can pull up for reference when the visitor logs back onto the site, Pante said.
The presence of online sales help can dramatically increase companies’ ability to convert browsers to buyers, according to Pante, who predicts that online sales will be much more prominent in the future.
Genealogy site Ancestry.com implemented the software a few months ago to help visitors sign up to its subscription services. According to Mary Kay Evans, public relations director at Ancestry.com’s parent company MyFamily.com Inc., the company has seen a 15-fold improvement in its conversion rate of Web site browsers to buyers using the software.
It took about a week to integrate the software into its Web site and two days to train its representatives, Evans said.
MyFamily Call Center Manager Jared Richards said that the company is getting positive reviews from customers on the new interactive features.
“They say it’s better than phone or e-mail because we can follow them through the subscription process in real-time,” he added.
LivePerson Sales Edition is priced at US$10,000 per month for up to ten operators.