Automating the Buying Process

The sales process is changing. Your customers and prospects are increasingly difficult to reach by phone. More and more, people are shopping online, even for technology and industrial products. They don’t want to talk to you unless it’s absolutely necessary. And if they can’t find what they want easily on your website, they click away.

It’s no longer enough to build a website and wait for the phone calls and emails. Your customers want to buy online if they can, or at least get all the information they need to make a decision.

Turning Your Browsers into Buyers
Getting them to your site is more than half the battle, but once they are there, where do they go? What’s the next step? How to they buy your product? Like most marketing questions, there’s no simple answer. It depends on the product.

5 steps to develop an effective website sales strategy for your company

Step 1 — Deconstructing the sales process
How you sell your product? More importantly, how do your customers buy your product? Is it a straightforward product that can easily be bought online? Or do you require a CAD drawing or other document to provide a quote?

Step 2 — Break your sales process down into steps
Identify the steps of your sales process and think about which parts can be automated and how far you can take them online. If your products are fairly standard and conducive to selling online, build a shopping cart. If you offer a custom service or product, offer a free consultation, demo, or quote.

Step 3 — Develop a “contact” section of your website
Make it easy for your customers to contact you with a “contact us” section in the same place on each page, preferably on the right side of your website. This encourages visitors to move to the next step in the sales process from anywhere on your site. Offer different methods of contact including email, phone, quote request or other form, join our email list, and social networking icons.

Step 4 — Develop a website sales strategy
Once you have added a contact section to your website and broken down the steps of a sale, it’s time to put them all together in a “website sales strategy”. Start with a compelling call to action inviting people to “learn more” with a short description of what they will learn, with a button or two to entice them to take the next step. Use short forms to capture information for quotes and demos, or lead them to the shopping cart if you have one. Although it’s best to offer phone numbers, make it easy to get the information they need without having to call.

Step 5 — Create call to actions
Once you have your sales process broken down into steps, determine the best way to automate each step. At the end of each page, be sure to lead them to the next step with colorful buttons that say “shop online” or “request quote” with compelling copy enticing them to click to the next step.

What is a call to action?
A call to action is defined as: a marketing or sales message to convince a person to perform a desired action immediately. Think of a TV commercial with the plea ”Call 800-BUY-THIS now to place your order”.

Every website should have a well-thought-out “call to action” to encourage visitors to take action. Since a website is a fluid environment, you never really know where your prospect will be on your website when he/she decides it’s time to buy or they want more information. You also don’t know how they prefer to respond. Maybe they just want to ask a quick question by email, or they’d like to download a brochure and show it to their boss. Or they just want to pick up the phone.

Developing a call to action
Make it easy to respond from wherever visitors are on your site or in the buying process. The goal is to capture contact information so you can bring prospects to the next step in the sales process. Here are some suggestions for improving website response:

  • Create a compelling offer to entice them to register and/or contact you for a white paper, brochure, or quote
  • Offer different ways to respond in multiple places
  • Use dashes instead of periods in your phone numbers so they can dial your phone number from a mobile phone
  • Create a contact section in the same place on every page with multiple ways to contact or “connect” through social networking

End each page with a call-to-action to lead them to the next step of the buying process with colorful buttons that say “shop online” or “request quote” with compelling copy enticing them to click to the next step.

Put a quick contact form on every page
Create a “contact us” or “request quote” button in the same place on every page

Examples of effective online sales strategies

To generate ideas for your online sales strategy, check out these examples:

e-commerce site – MDC integrated a shopping cart into this site.
Contact section – Here is an example of a contact section in the right column.
Free semiconductor forecast – This company offers a free forecast to capture leads.
Quote request form – As a custom manufacturer, this company requires a blueprint to prepare a quote.