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Should You Fire Your Web Site?

If your Web site isn't doing its job--selling--why are you keeping it on your sales team?
HomeOfficeMag.com, by James Maduk

Ask yourself this: If your Web site were one of your salespeople, would you keep that employee on your team? In other words, is your Web site doing its job--selling?

Almost every viable business today has a Web site that serves a number of purposes. Even a basic Web presence ensures a visitor that the company is for real and still in business. At larger companies, the IT or Web department controls the messaging, content, look and feel. Support may have a section to offload customer service. Highly integrated businesses may even tie distribution and the supply chain to the site, allowing customers to check their orders.

It doesn't matter if you're the only "salesperson" or you have a dedicated sales team; brochures, product sheets and a shopping cart system aren't enough to build any online or offline business. You want your Web site to engage, enroll and compel customers. You want it to qualify prospects, present solutions and close sales. You want it to grab a visitor's attention, create some interest, build desire and get the visitor to take some action. You know--the stuff that salespeople do.

Getting Leads
Is your Web site getting good leads? Not all Web site visitors are created equal. Don't assume that just because they happen to be on your Web site they are interested in buying your product or service. There tends to be four types of Web traffic:

  1. Browsers: people who might have arrived on your site by mistake, curiosity or another form of general marketing. These visitors come with no intent.
  2. Suspects: visitors who have already made a decision to fix a problem but still haven't decided on a solution. These groups are looking for something but aren't sure what they want.
  3. Prospects: visitors who know both the problem and the solution and are making a decision on who is going to supply the solution. Where are they going to access the solution?
  4. Customers: those who have already made the decision to buy from you and want to place an order.

Does your Web site navigation qualify or disqualify your traffic? The navigation of your site must be able to identify and direct the leads that it receives into the appropriate part of your sales process. Does your site map the accepted AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) sales process to each of the types of visitors?

Browsers and suspects need to see a strong USP (unique selling proposition), have their attention grabbed and interest created. Prospects want to know what's in it for them. You want to build desire by conveying real benefits. Customers want a fast and simple way to do business with you online.

Does your Web site give good presentations to the right people? Like any good presentation, your site has to be tailored to its audience. The content that builds desire for one personality style may confuse or bore another. Your sales presentation, the content, should be specific to the various buying styles of your visitors.

Closing the Sale
So your site does the presentation, but does it ask for the order? There must be a point of action with a specific decision for the visitor to make. Is the purpose of the site to make sure that the visitor fills in a survey, follow-up or request-for-info form? Is it to make sure that they join the site by subscribing to a newsletter? Perhaps you want the visitor to call in to book an appointment with a live sales rep, or even better, to complete the entire sale online using your e-commerce system. Make sure your site asks for the order.

If you need help determining your Web site's weaknesses, there are many applications available to help you track page hits, page views, length of visit and so on. Most important, you want to know where the customer was in the sales process when they came into the site and where they left.

Imagine the next sales meeting when it's time to look at the sales funnel and your sales forecast. You'll go through the numbers, looking at the number of current opportunities. How many new leads were added to the sales funnel? How many of those suspects are qualified? How many presentations were done to the qualified prospects? Finally, how much business is going to close this week, month or quarter?

Salespeople aren't paid for what they know. They're paid for what they sell. Should you include your Web site on your sales team, or should it be replaced?


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