Traditional businesses and sales teams are making the leap into Internet Marketing in growing numbers. Sales people and small businesses are investing time and money in social media. The Internet is irreversibly changing all aspects of marketing and selling.
Of course, as all your social media and Internet marketing programs begin to bare fruit – more and more people finding your company via the web and begin introduced to your company by your website first – the next phase is to update your site so there are strong calls to action that compel more and more of those new website visitors to contact you.
It’s rare to find a sales person that wouldn’t see all those new inquiries as an exciting new development. However, for traditional sales people, these new leads from your website can become a disappointment and distraction and put the brakes on grand plans to leverage the power of Internet marketing.
1) Don’t wait too long to respond.
In truth, your sales response should be geared to the specific stage in the buying process that each new lead demonstrates they are in. Traditional sales people find and often “create” prospects. The knock on doors, cold call and network their way into conversations with prospects who might want what they have to offer. Then they proceed to educate the customer and inspire in them the desire to have their products and services. This is can be a long process that involves lots of conversation, presentations and collateral.
When someone has found your website via an Internet search, they have already made up their mind to start looking for a solution. They’ve already identified the need themselves. They also have probably visited a few of your competitors sites.
Make sure someone can respond to these leads immediately. This allows you to take control of the situation and position your company vs. the competition rather than letting the competition do it for you. Too many companies wait until the following day or worse, only to find the prospect has already purchased from the competition.
You’ll also find that it’s much easier to reach these prospects if you call within 15 minutes. They were sitting at their computer when they requested info on your site. Catch them while they still are.
2) Don’t assume all web leads are great prospects
When you strategically target a company, research and find the best contact and work to get an appointment, you’ve selected a business or homeowner that you know is highly likely to have the need and the budget to purchase your product or service.
When someone performs a search and finds your site, they may have any number of motivations and may not be in any way your ideal prospect. In fact, there-in lies one of the more elusive arts of Internet marketing – driving traffic that becomes high quality leads, rather than traffic for traffic’s sake.
Indiscriminately putting the “full court press” on every web lead can distract your sales team from the other prospecting activities they rely on and from other more highly qualified leads. A sudden influx of web leads that are not qualified can actually be a tremendous detriment to sales.
Be sure to aggressively qualify web leads as early as possible. The call to action on your website can be the first step. Give visitors at least two options – “Learn more” is great for tire kickers to get more information – “Request a Quote” let’s people ready to buy self-identify. Make sure that as soon as sales people start investing time in these leads, they know how to ask a few questions up front to separate the great prospects from the rest and a way to respond to the unqualified prospects without investing a lot of time.
3) Don’t give up too soon
While it’s important to wisely invest sales time, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the unqualified leads. People search the web at odd hours and it can be tough to reach these leads during business hours. Call a few times over a few days and send a few emails asking for a good time to call. If there is no response, continuing to call these leads can become a full time job with little reward. Of course, using CRM software to keep sales people on top of follow ups and automate an on-going sales process.
However, on-going email campaigns to stay in touch with the lead can keep them engaged, educate them on the benefits of your solution and ensure that when it’s finally time to make a purchase, your company gets the call. An email marketing solution can automated this lead nurturing and turn old, cold leads into future orders.
The great thing about web leads is that sales people can focus more time on closing highly qualified leads. Avoiding the pitfalls above will ensure steady progress toward that goal. Be sure to measure the process from start to finish to enable optimization of the sales and lead nurturing process as well as the Internet marketing investments.