Even Selling Power magazine recently predicted an over 80% reduction in the sales profession’s ranks by 2020!
In businesses where finding entirely new customers is where growth comes from, the process of finding and connecting with those new customers is inevitably the most time consuming and expensive. And of course, this is where most sales training and selling methodologies focus. These same businesses tend to under value their websites.
If your sales people are networking, getting referrals and knocking on doors all day every day, then you may think that a very simplistic website will do the trick.
When a customer meets your sales rep and is interested in your company, what do they do next? They go to your website! And what do they see? Is your website essentially an online business card for your sales team?
Or is the opposite true?
If you’re spending money to drive traffic to your site now, those new visitors could actually undermine your sales staff!
For instance, prospects that find your business by virtue of your Google ranking might become a tremendous source of new leads – more and more people calling in, emailing you or signing up for your free offer on the website.
The risk is that these new leads can begin to distract your sales team from closing highly qualified opportunities. After all, although getting referrals or going to networking events can be far more time consuming, the benefit is that the sales person has control over which new contacts get added to the prospect list and warrant his/her valuable time. Anyone can find your website and contact your business. Not all of them are great prospects.
And this is where selling has changed most dramatically. If your business generates new opportunities via the web, search, social media, email blasts, etc. even in small measure, there is even more pressure on the sales person to aggressively qualify opportunities early in the process. And this is probably the most difficult of selling skills.
After all, people are people. Sales people like people. They have trouble saying no. They see opportunity in everyone. That’s why they’re salespeople and that’s why we love them!
Unfortunately, while there are many experts in driving traffic to your site and generating leads, there are very few “experts” who truly understand the risks to a sales team posed by too many unqualified leads.
You can find plenty of people that will take your hard earned cash and create great looking web presence and make sure people find you on the web. But few understand how to make sure the website itself and the processes you follow when a lead comes in help your sales team qualify opportunities up front.
The good news is that it’s not difficult or costly. The bad news is that it’s tough to outsource qualifying customers. If you’re stepping into Internet marketing, you’re going to have to take ownership of filtering leads. Your web guy probably won’t be familiar enough with the nuances of your business and your customers to get it right without a lot of input.
An example of how your website can pre-qualify leads is by offering more than one “call to action”. Instead of “Request a Quote” being the only option, also offer “Download our Feature Comparison” where the latter may be a comparison of your products/services with the competition or a comparison of the various options within your product family.
The result is that “less qualified” prospects will download the comparison and only those that are truly ready to start the buying process will request a quote. After all, creating a quote is one of the MOST time consuming thing your sales team can do generally.
There are other techniques that can be employed on your site, in your social media efforts, in email marketing, even in your phone menu.
What’s most important is that businesses with sales people take ownership of qualifying leads in an automated way.
This let’s your sales team focus on where they add the most value – Building relationships of trust and maintaining them. Don’t let them spend all their time trying to find the right relationship.