If you want your website to generate new business opportunities, you need to make sure it is designed to attract leads while it is guiding your prospect through the sales cycle. If you’re an e-commerce company, like Amazon or e-Bay, specifically focused on selling your product or service on the Internet, your site was probably designed to move a prospect through the buying process. If you’re not, however, but you’re spending resources to generate leads, your website should be guiding its visitors toward a sale. Remember, you’re trying to shorten the sales cycle. Help the prospect pick you!
This article begins a three-part series about getting your business found and creating sales on the Internet. The first step is making sure your website generates qualified leads that result in sales. This can be achieved easily if you work with the site designer to address the critical aspects. The site designer should be asking for information in three areas. One is an explanation of the sales cycle and the buying process, and what information the prospect requires to make a decision. The second is what is motivating the visit to your site and how the prospects arrive there. The third is what point in the cycle it is better to engage human interaction, and what the impact is of misinterpreted information.
And you need to ask the site designer what the website cannot do. By understanding the limitations of a website, you can better discuss with the designer how to achieve the results you are after.
Once you are armed with the answers, you can break down your sales cycle.
Abandoned Searches and Low Conversion Rates
Marketing experts tell us that many sales stall because we bypass steps in the sales process. When a website doesn’t convert a visit to a sale, chances are the site’s flow has interrupted the sales process. To design your site properly, you’ll want to identify each step in your sales cycle. Below is a generic cycle.
Need/Issue » Awareness » Information gathering » Discussion/Meeting »
Confirm Issue/Need » Create & Present Solution » Ask for the Sale
Visit your site and check off each step in this sales process. At each step, you need to consider how it flows, whether that step moves easily to the next phase, and whether the key buying issues are made clear. To sell a technical product, for example, one step of the sales cycle might address “features & benefits” and be immediately followed by “technical specifications” as the next step. To make the website conform to this flow, you might place an internal link at the end of the “features and benefits” page for “technical specs … click here”; this link will guide the prospect to the next phase of the cycle.
Next, you want to assess why a prospect is visiting your site. Is it due to a traffic-building campaign, expert SEO, blogging, social media, telemarketing, cold calling, webinars, referral, email marketing, etc? When you know why a prospect is at your site, you’ll have a good idea of where he or she is in the sales cycle. This is a crucial determination because each of those reasons comes with its own set of preconceived expectations. If you don’t deliver on those expectations within one to two clicks, you’ll lose that prospect. However, if you identify why the prospect is at your site while directing him or her to pages that complement the logical buying process, you will be much closer to closing a sale.
Closing the Sale
In theory, sales-cycle-based website design sounds logical, but it’s also challenging to determine when a prospect requires human interaction. Again, it all depends on where the prospect is in the sales process. The “Contact Us” and “FAQs” pages and “Live Online Chats” are helpful add-ons that encourage the prospect to communicate where he or she is in the cycle. As my earlier example of the technical product sales shows, you can prompt calls to action within properly designed pages based on the cycle phase. Determining when and where to incorporate human interaction and how to manage it must be carefully considered because, in the end, nothing beats an expert salesperson’s ability to listen to a potential customer and pick up on buying signs. How many deals have been salvaged by a salesperson who acted on the defining comment by the prospect?
You might even consider a policy of an outbound telephone call when a visitor performs three or four clicks into the site and then abandons the search.
Know Your Site’s Limitations within the Cycle
Perhaps one of the most critical reasons to design your website with your sales cycle in mind is it helps you see what a website cannot do for your prospect. If you’re trying to make the site do more than it truly can, you run the risk of either overselling or convoluting your message and then losing the sale. Knowing when and how to close the sale has an impact on website design and the information dissemination flow. Know your limits.
So, now that your website has been designed for lead qualifying and shortening the sales cycle, how do you get your business found on the Internet? We’ll discuss that in November.
Thomas Beyer is president of Gogiro Phoenix Central, located in the Deer Valley Airpark. Gogiro specializes in digital marketing strategies via site design, SEO, traffic building, email and social marketing campaigns, and reputation management.
The Internet Marketing Series:
October: Base Website Design on Your Sales Process
November: Visitors Wanted – Get Your Website Found on the Internet
December: Explode Sales with Targeted Online Marketing