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If Your Website Isn’t Your Best Sales Representative, Fire It And Get A Better One.

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To many of your potential customers, your website will provide the most concrete representation they have of your company. Very few will come to your front door. Others may see one of your ads in the Yellow Pages or may have heard from a colleague that your company may be a suitable supplier. Following this, they may call your switchboard, and from that may get some impression of your company. For whatever reason, the potential customer wants to hear more. How will your company handle such valuable opportunities?

Greeting someone at your door

It may be rare in your business, but perhaps someone will arrive at your doorstep. “I’ve heard that your Master Minder is a great security device for my automobile. Can I get some more information on it.” What impression will this visitor have had, as she found a parking place outside and came through the front door? Does the person they are now seeing give them an appealing view of the company? Does the person know who to put them in touch with to get the information they need? How will your organization best sell to this person?

If something goes amiss in the encounter, and the visitor leaves frustrated and determined not to do business with your organization, then this needs to be corrected. If it happens often, then you need a new receptionist.

Greeting someone on your telephone

Perhaps more frequently, someone may call in to your telephone switchboard. Hopefully very quickly, they are talking with a human being. “Does your company make something called a Master Minder? What exactly does it do?” What the person hears on the telephone will already give them some kind of impression of the company. How their call is handled will tell them a lot more. Hopefully the telephone receptionist has the manner and the training to impress the visitor and ensure that the organization can make the sale. Again if this does not happen, it’s time to look for another receptionist.

Greeting someone who visits your website

Much more likely than someone knocking on your door or calling up the office is that someone tries to find you on the Internet. Certainly the more affluent purchasers (and potentially those with more buying potential) will probably type in “Master Minder” in their favourite search engine. More often than not this will be Google. What happens next?

In the worst case, you do not have a website. You have not realized that the world has moved on. An increasing majority of business buyers use the Internet as their window on the world of potential suppliers. If you are not there, then you leave a clear field for your competition. You also may cause a certain amount of frustration even among your present customers. They cannot use the handy Internet to get more information about you or possible contacts in your company.

If your site has been well constructed to be search-engine friendly, then your website should come high in the search-engine listing for the particular key words. If you are not in the top ten for one of your key products, then there is something seriously amiss. However this is not the topic being discussed in this newsletter.

So the visitor clicks on the link to your website. What impression will they get as their browser opens your website? Will they naturally explore your site in a way that leads to a sale? If this doesn’t happen, shouldn’t you consider changing your website to make it more likely? After all, it is very tough to get someone to visit your website. You really can’t afford to drop the ball, when you succeed in attracting a visitor. What is the secret to making the sale?

Usability

Some people seeing this question will automatically think “Usability”. What exactly does this term mean? This topic was discussed in the previous newsletter. Usability has now almost become an industry. It deals with the way in which websites can be constructed so that visitors easily find what they are looking for. This is obviously important. If visitors don’t get the information they need, then they can hardly be in a position to buy. The knowledge of the usability gurus must clearly be applied in constructing your website. But is this enough to make the sale?

Product-driven versus Client-centric

The most dominant theme in the SMM newsletters is the notion of Product-driven versus Client-centric. Of course it is important to give enough information to show that the products you are selling can do the job. Some websites are very impressive with the quality and the depth of the information that they provide about their products and their manufacturing facilities. Is that enough to make the sale?

In some cases, it may be. However particularly where there is competition, mere product information will not do it. You need to be in the shoes of the potential customer to understand what is needed. Often, it is the services associated with the products that are as important in the final choice. Even then, we all know that some sales persons can sell while others drop the ball.

Why do you buy from a particular sales person?

Some reasons why people buy from one person rather than another are fairly clear. We now live in an era of Permission Marketing. We will not give too much time to someone who is too pushy.

But is there a magic solution to making the sale? One important strategy is to communicate that the sales person will do their utmost to make sure that the purchaser will be very happy with the outcome. How can a website inspire such a feeling of confidence in a potential purchaser?

NBC

For business-to-business selling where complex products or perhaps custom services are involved, it is rare for the website to actually make the sale. The website is only one of the company influences that will bring the potential purchaser to the close. How can the website build up the confident expectation of a happy outcome? We all realize that websites can be deceiving. It is not very expensive to build a most impressive appearance, when the reality may be very different.

Three things can help a website visitor be convinced of the credibility of the company behind the website. The letters, NBC, for News, “Bodies” and Customers help to remind you of these important factors. These are elements that should be easy to find in any effective selling website.

N – News

A company that is making noteworthy news in its market sector is likely to be one that is doing good things for its customers. Conversely, if it never makes any news, does that indicate that it is complacent with the status quo, perhaps not up-to-date with its equipment, etc.

B – “Bodies”

The website should show that the company is not just a faceless monolith, however impressive. The company is in reality a team of keen, enthusiastic and well-trained human beings. They are eager to understand the customer’s needs and to make sure the customer gets outstanding service. Ideally there should be pictures of the actual people the customer will contact, all obviously ready to do their best for the client. In a way, the website can show the commitment of the whole team to deliver what the customer wants.

C – Customers

Particularly with complex products or services, it is difficult for a potential customer to do product comparisons, however elaborate the information provided by the website. How can a website easily provide believable data on quality or delivery reliability? One way to rapidly confirm that the company satisfies customers is to show reference letters from its satisfied customers.

Some companies have a reluctance to show the names of actual customers, in case the competition use this information. This fear is often exaggerated. However, as a second best, quotes from unnamed customers can be used and appropriate references offered on request.

Conclusion

With NBC in a website, it is much more likely that website visitors will contact the company and be predisposed to consider the company as a potential supplier. By such attention to details, selling effectiveness can be improved. SMM will be happy to assist you in building your marketing and selling program to achieve maximum profit effectiveness.

Barry Welford, President of SMM Strategic Marketing Montreal works with business owners and senior management on Internet Marketing strategy and action plans to grow their companies. He is a moderator at the Cre8asite Forums and writes on current issues on the Internet and on the Mobile Web in three blogs, BPWrap, StayGoLinks and The Other Bloke’s Blog.

If Your Website Isn’t Your Best Sales Representative, Fire It And Get A Better One.
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