Business owners often tell me if they can just get in front of a prospect, they’ll almost always “close the sale.”
But in this day and age, you will have a hard time getting in front of them if you don’t have a strong online presence. If they search online and don’t find you, then you’ll never get the opportunity.
Just as importantly, gone are the days of the deer-in-the-headlights prospect. In their place we have the savvy buyer – 94% of whom have done their research online, becoming familiar with your products or services and now turning to you for validation. Today’s buyer has at least as much power as the seller.
To make the most of these opportunities – when a prospect is looking for what we do and is willing to engage with us online – we must:
- Create valuable educational content to satisfy the informational needs of the savvy buyer – before they identify themselves.
- Execute sales activities that maximize the probability of closing the sale once they do.
Online marketing and sales are part of the same continuum and have the same goals; to effortlessly move prospects through a well thought-out and executed process. In today’s buying environment, you can’t succeed without doing both of these things well.
Are you ready to compete in a world in which the buying process has fundamentally transformed? These are three things you must do, at a minimum, to ensure that you are.
1. Be Engaged Throughout the Decision-Making Process
Getting engaged throughout the decision-making process means making a commitment to nurture and educate prospects while they are in the “investigator phase” – when they are trying to figure out how to make a buying decision versus who to buy from.
The earlier in the investigation phase you engage, the higher your probability of success:
- You’ll establish credibility by proving you’re a subject matter expert.
- You’ll increase trust by focusing on the prospect’s best interests versus trying to ”sell them”.
- Prospects will feel obligated to return the favour – the law of reciprocity is a powerful source of influence.
- It allows you to dictate the rules of the game – you will be helping them formulate the criteria on which they should base a decision.
This engagement process must begin online. Quality educational content will remove friction during the investigator phase. Giving your prospects the information they need, when they need it, will produce quality leads for your salespeople.
2. Make Sure Your Salespeople Are Well-Versed in Consultative Selling
People don’t like to be sold. They want you to understand their requirements and feel assured you’re acting in their best interests. Being consultative is about listening versus telling.
Buyers have become too sophisticated, and too jaded, to be pressured or tricked into buying something. They want to do their own research and feel confident and knowledgeable about the product or service in which they are interested.
Using “sales gimmicks” and “closing tactics” will result in a wary prospect.
Salespeople must behave as trusted advisors where online marketing ends and sales begin. If the online content has done a good job of educating prospects and gaining their trust, then salespeople must reinforce this trust and credibility. The job of the productive salesperson is to “connect the dots” – give prospects the reassurance that you understand their needs and are best positioned to deliver optimal value for their money.
If the online marketing activities have done their job, then the primary responsibility of the salesperson is to get the prospect over the finish line.
2. Be Reliable During the Sales Process
If salespeople are unreliable during the sales process (not submitting a proposal on time, not providing direct answers to specific questions, not having testimonials, etc.), which is when you’re expected to be on your best behaviour, prospects will come to the conclusion they won’t be able to rely on you after the sale.
Being reliable requires:
- Reinforcing Trust
Closing a sale begins when your prospect first engaged with your content online. If they are willing to take a next step in the process and identify themselves, then the first job of the salesperson is to reinforce the trust that has been established. Be responsive and listen.
- Quick Response
Part of being reliable is ensuring you have all the information a prospect needs to get them to a favourable decision.
Some examples of information they will need are:
- Return on investment information
- Product specifications
- Examples of work performed/case studies
- A detailed explanation of how your services are delivered
If they don’t ask, that’s fine. However, chances are some prospects will. If this information is not readily available it could open the door to competitors or prolong the sales cycle.
Eliminate these risks by arming salespeople with all the tools they need during the sales process – by having them at their fingertips, you maximize the probability of success.
Closing the sale then simply becomes a logical conclusion to a job well done.
The Bottom Line
“Job one” for online marketing activities should be to generate a steady flow of quality, inbound leads for sales reps to close.
However, to maximize your close rate, online content must instill confidence and trust. Once a prospect is willing to engage in a “human to human encounter”, your salespeople must continue this consultative approach.
Effectively managing and executing this “end to end” approach requires thoughtful, strategic planning and a commitment to focusing on the best interests of the prospect.
But it’s well worth it; a small percentage increase in close rates will have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Core Online Marketing is an outsourced online marketing agency for small and mid-sized businesses. Contact us to accelerate your online marketing activities!
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