Single Throw's Internet Marketing Post

Single Throw is an Internet Marketing firm that helps businesses with sales lead generation by making sure your message is in the right place at the right time - when a customer is searching and has need - when they are most likely to make a buying decision. We call this "From Search to Success." In this blog, Single Throw's experts will share their insights on the state of business and marketing, both online and offline, as well explore new areas of Internet Marketing.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Walks like a customer, talks like a customer...it IS a customer!

Most business people define a customer as someone who makes a purchase. A smart business person knows that we sometimes need to jump through a few hoops, maybe zigzag an obstacle course, and then finish with the limbo before we gain a true, life time value customer. We may have to answer a whole bunch of questions, present a few case studies and prove ourselves before we make the sale. Point is, it's not always so cut and dry, particularly online, to obtain - and retain - customers. And most b-to-b businesses do not lend themselves to the "add to cart" method of sales, so we need to work even harder to gain customers. And customers are sometimes waiting in the wings for you to sell to them.

For example, what is your current follow up process when someone submits an online form? Are the requests simply sitting in someone's email in box? If they are followed up on, how quickly? Do you have an auto-response that lets them know when to expect personal follow up? Do you meet that time frame? Is there actually anyone or a team of people assigned to this task?

Believe it or not, many people still are not totally comfortable with shopping online. Many still are not making a purchase decision purely from the information they see at your site. Often times they are testing your customer service abilities by using your contact form. They want to make sure you're "for real" before taking that next step.

"Oh, but Caryl, we get 20 or 30 requests for more information a month. We can't follow up on every one of those. That's why we have a website, so they can buy online without tying up our sales people."

Really...20 to 30? And this is upsetting you WHY? Your sales people should be tied up (figuratively speaking) with sales calls and answering potential customer's questions. If they're not, fire them!

You don't have sales people? Sure you do. Every business should have someone that can answer these questions. They are in sales.

How about a toll free number or better yet, one that is only published on your website (hint: then you can track those people that started off online then proceeded to call). Same questions as with online forms: what is your follow up process?

People have lots of questions. Our current world, chock full of information on various media sources, lends us to be that much more inquisitive. A customer isn't made in a minute, but it certainly can be lost in less than one.

Start to recognize that sales sometimes start outside of the cart. And that these calls and forms are filled with valuable information about information you should possibly be including online, as well as about your online sales process. Maybe you're getting more calls than cart sales? Could be a sign that your product or service is better sold offline.

Look at how you can fill the leaks on your website - and in your sales process - and begin capturing those lurking customers that could be walking by and on to your competitor.

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