Your web site should be your star sales person
Most small to medium sized businesses have already declared by action, NOT INTENT, that their web site is a brochure and not a sales person.
Yes, even as an online marketing professional I have done no better at times. Want a real life example? Just look at my parent company web site at exceler8 and compare that to the focus and variety on my local online marketing site Local Na8ion. It’s like the difference between managing a sales force as a group of clock-punching employees and managing sales, guess which improves the bottom line more?
I recommend that you take a look at your web site as if it were your sales person and not a brochure because it will not so subtly change your attitudes and actions about your site and your online sales strategy.
Think about it, successful businesses have well trained, well paid and properly incented sales people. Without our sales people we wouldn’t have a business. You’re constantly managing, coaching, incenting, and helping your sales people to help you. We measure their success with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports along with performance evaluations and customer feedback metrics. We recognize the importance of their physical dress and appearance, their ability to communicate verbally and in writing, and how cleanly they submit their orders and follow company practices. We do all this because our sales people are the face of our company and that means that our sales people are an asset we can’t afford to mismanage or we’ll face serious consequences.
Here are some questions for you and your online sales person:
First, be honest with yourself. Is your web site a star sales person or getting ready to pack their bags for greener pastures?
- does your web site know everything about your business that it should?
- do you measure your web site’s success (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually)?
- do you offer your web site ‘training’ on your business fundamentals, new trends, or economic changes in your local market or in the national business climate for your industry?
- does your web site have all your current products, services and pricing?
- do customers know how to contact your web site, your address, phone, and email address for your business?
- is your web site ready to take orders and provide a smooth experience doing so?
- does your web site make points succinctly and answer questions clearly?
- does your web site talk circles and marketing nonsense that customers neither care about or have time to read (ouch, talk about my weakness!)?
- is your web site, knowledgeable, professional and suited to your business image?
- how are your web site’s communication skills, do you offer email newsletters or RSS feed?
- how well does your web site sell against your competition?
- does your web site handle typical customer objections smoothly and confidently or fumble nervously with the keys in its pocket?
- does your web site know of current job openings at your company and always have en eye out for new talent?
- when someone goes looking for a product or service like yours is your sales person in front of them or out on the golf course?
- speaking of golf, can your web site play golf? Ha, just kidding.
If you answered yes to all those questions congratulations – you’re a star and so is your web site. For the rest of us (and I do mean US) it’s great to get a wake up call once in a while to remember what’s important.
Realistically, a typical small to medium sized business makes their web site when they open their business and then just leaves it. Maybe your site is one of those cut and paste beauties from 1999 that your kid cousin made for you. Or you have one of those cookie cutter web sites a media sales rep put together for free so you’d buy an ad from them in the Yellow Pages or Newspaper. Let’s face it, this isn’t how you’d treat your star sales person.
I know that comparing a live sales person to a web site is a little extreme. But it’s a much better way to think of your site than a static brochure. Wasn’t the old point from ten years ago that your web site was a sales person that never slept, got sick, or took a day off? Wasn’t that a relief. Yes, your web site DOES offer these advantages but you’ll never make a star sales person of your web site without investing in the same kind of process, management focus and attention to detail that you use with your sales team.
Should you really bother with all this work? Is it a worth while investment in your time? To sum it up, there are more people online today shopping and buying (both locally and nationally) than the people who DON’T refer to the web in buying situations. The days of ignoring your online sales person and not suffering any consequences are over.
What to do?
Business people aren’t ignoring their online sales person out of malice or indifference. We’re strapped for time and online marketing and publishing can be just as confounding as local business ordinances or an old fashioned media slickster in sansibelt pants and a clip-on tie. Use your search engine to locate sites that educate and inform you – there are multitudes of FREE resources that businesses have available to them on the web. In fact, there are more free and low cost methods to setup, design, and market your business online than ever before and it’s getting easier all the time.
Don’t let a fear of technical know-how or lack of marketing experience get in the way of your great company idea and vision. Remember, search engines, blogs, and business web sites are all available to your business. Do your research and then support, build, and train your online sales channel and web site like you would your own sales team: day by day, follow a process, measure your results, and keep tweaking your message and offers until your web site is the star it should be. Good luck!