In most cases online marketing ends up being a face-to-face or face to phone sale situation. Our experience shows that as much a 60% of sales are lost at this first contact. But why?
Hubspot reported findings that salespeople feel only 5% of leads generated online are any good. Does this mean that online is not a good source of leads? This seems pretty unlikely. It seems more likely that the salespeople themselves are not approaching the leads in the appropriate way and blaming lead quality for their lack of success.
Many we talk to assume that because someone has made contact with them that the sale is a foregone conclusion. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth.
A recent study suggested that 63% of people requesting information will not buy for three months with 20% buying after a year. If this is so then thinking that someone is in a ‘buy now’ state of mind and pressing for the sale will often alienate that person.
The solution: We need to practice all the same sales skills we would for any sale and drop the assuming that it is a foregone conclusion. How about qualifying the prospect and using good questioning techniques to determine how ready they are and why they would buy.
We must stop taking shortcuts simply because the leads come to us. This does not treat the client with the respect they are due – and they know it a very basic level and react accordingly.
On the assumption that the person at the end of the phone is not an inbound sales team member, how long does it take for someone to get back to an online request for information?
Below is a chart from a Harvard report the results of a study of 2241 companies.
A further Harvard study suggested that a lead responded to within the first five minutes was five times as likely to lead to a positive outcome as one responded to even 10 minutes later. A lead responded to within an hour was 60 times more likely to create a positive outcome than one that was left for more than a day.
If you add to this that insidesales.com reports that 35 to 50% of sales go to the first responder it becomes immediately apparent that you cannot take your time getting back to clients.
The solution: It is easy for us to say these figures come from the United States but whether the percentages vary somewhat between countries we have to acknowledge that being the first responder getting back to a customer is important when it comes to making a sale.
This is not to say you even need someone to have a personal conversation with them (which would be ideal) but you could have an auto responder to acknowledge their enquiry or use a virtual assistant to make instant contact to let them know that someone will be in touch and when that might happen.
The role of the sales professional has changed in today’s sales environment and we need to change with it. The skills that worked fifteen years ago need an upgrade to match. True – the basics are still there. But buyer behaviour has modified.
In an age with people research so much online they often finally arrive in front of the sales representative with a lot of preconceived ideas that they holds true. 15 years ago when someone perceived they had a problem they would go straight to a representative as an information source and suggestions on how to fix that problem.
Today they tend to go online and explore websites, blogs and interactive chats on the subject they are currently exploring. This means that by the time they talk to someone in the sales department they are often at an advanced stage in their decision-making process and often want to focus on price comparison. This commoditise is your offering and removes your value proposition if you are not very careful.
In addition the online information is perceived to be more trustworthy than someone in sales, even when the online information is the company’s own website. If the salesperson contradicts the information on their own website and the customer has to choose who they believe the basic lack of trust in the sales profession moves them to feel the website is more trustworthy.
The solution: There is a need to be able to create a line of questioning that allows the customer to explore their own assumptions for themselves to re-evaluate their ideas.
This requires an advanced line of questioning coupled with a deep understanding of how to phrase these questions so that you do not trigger an adverse reaction in your potential client. This something we call the ‘theatre of the sale’.
Everyone has a fear that they will not get what they want from the deal and this stops us taking action. In my opinion is that you lose more business to this factor than anything else. Focus on risk reducing language and actions to give the potential client comfort in buying from you.
It also means that you have to listen more carefully than you have in the past as well as needing the bravery to go deeper.
It takes training but gaining these skills creates the sales you need and customer relationships at a much deeper level than previously experienced.