I talk with a lot of people about their website and their online selling strategy. The most asked question is, "why doesn't my website work?"
There are usually many reasons. But one reason is always present. There is no online selling strategy.
This article is about why you have a web site, who should build and who should control it.
I always ask, who built your website and who looks after it?
The answers are usually the IT department or the website guru down the street who is really clever. Many say an advertising or design agency. Some say they did it themselves.
A lot say the office junior who has a marketing degree and is pretty good with these things, especially social media.
So I usually ask "would you like your IT guy, or your website guru to sit down with your potential client and sell to them? What about your office junior?"
It's a great question to ask face to face. Try it and see the body language change as managing directors imagine their IT guy trying to close a deal.
But that's what they are doing every hour of every day.
Building a website with an online selling strategy is not easy. But if you have never sold anything offline, then you are going to really struggle online.
Most businesses are sold on the idea that a website must have high volume traffic to work. Sorry, not anymore (if ever). The number one reason a website will work is because it has high quality engagement.
Just like offline, it is not the volume of people that come to your business (website), or even the number on your list that matters. What matters is the number of people that buy from you.
So. Offline …
If you are an experienced face-to-face sales person you will know what you need to do off line.
You want to talk with the prospects one on one. If you can, you will be the first person in your industry to present your product. And you will be considered an expert in your field. You will educate and guide them. You will communicate in a manner that allows you to converse with them, not spiel to them. You will ask questions and listen to their dreams and fears. You will demonstrate how you can overcome those fears or achieve those dreams.
If you are really good then you will know when the prospect has decided to buy. And you'll stop – and allow them to buy.
In short, it is an active process where you lead the prospect down a path. And you'll keep looking back to make sure they are with you.
And. Online …
Obviously, you want to achieve the same thing.
But you can't do it with a website alone. A website is passive. It is a one-way communication from you.
Websites are great for getting to the prospect early and they are great for educating and informing them.
But if you are a great off line sales person you will know that you want your prospect doing all the talking. You want to hear him or her. You know that if you keep asking questions, they will tell you everything you need to know so that they can make the decision to do business with you.
And that is where you need an active one on one communication medium. And there is only one that can do that – email.
It is not until you are invited in to the inbox of your prospect that you have a potential for a two-way conversation.
Many of my clients say they do that with Twitter and Facebook. Sorry, it's not one on one. Social media is important, but I will cover that on future blogs.
Your website should be designed to do at least this one thing. It needs to lead your prospect to initiate a "one on one" conversation. It should be focused on getting people to engage with you by email. And it needs to do that as easily and as early as possible.
Once you are in your prospects inbox you are now ready to sell. But I will start with a suspension bridge.
On line or off line, smart marketers know that people are begging to be led.
They show an interest in your proposition. They want to know the next step. So they look at the path ahead. Do they see an easy path?
I often talk about the rungs in a ladder. But a better visual is probably a suspension bridge. A prospect wants to get to the other side. That is why they are looking across. But most businesses space the slats of the bridge too far apart. There is a risk in taking the first step, or the next.
If you want to lead people you need to make sure the gaps are small (or no gaps at all) so prospects have confidence in following you along the path. And you also need a "fast route" for people to jump to when they are ready to buy. We have all lost countless sales because we kept selling when the prospect wanted to buy (let me finish my presentation!).
When you master online sales you can duplicate yourself in a way that was never possible offline. You can have a sales team that is word perfect every time. You can scale up without training new people. And you can create a "pool" of prospects that can guide your business to produce the perfect suspension bridge.
Here is the lesson of this article.
Most people build websites to attract prospects when they are ready to buy. That might work for you if you sell exclusive products or you can sell cheaper than anyone else.
But if you sell high value products or professional services or you are in a highly competitive sector, you need to build a website to attract prospects when they are ready to learn.
People go to search engines long before they are ready to buy. They go there first to discover. If you build a website to attract them when they are ready to buy, then they will go somewhere else to learn. And whoever educates them has the jump on you.
You might be far better value than your competitor. Your company might be far "nicer" to do business with.
But if your website only brings them to you when they are ready to buy, your prospect will already know a lot about your competitors offering and they will know nothing about you.
Here are the signs I first look for when assessing a client's on line sales strategy.
Have a good look at your website. Does it attract people from social media? Or does it send people away to social media? It is okay to ask people to buy on your site but does it offer to educate? Do you have a well planned and executed auto response email program running?
And have you ever sold off line?