As sophisticated as the Internet has become as a platform for information and commerce, it’s only natural for the owner of a small or medium size business to ask: “Do I really need a salesperson?” After all, if you expect the Internet – and more specifically, your company website – to handle finding, funneling, and converting customers, do you need another person on your payroll? Maybe you don’t. Then again, maybe you do still need a salesperson on your team. Let’s look at some factors that can help you decide:
Before considering whether the Internet can serve as a reasonable substitute for professional sales representation, there are some baseline requirements. For example, your website and digital initiatives (including newsletters, blogging, social media, etc.) must be solid and professional in their own right. You can’t put up a basic website with minimal information and no strategic optimization and expect the phone to start ringing. You will need a website that informs and qualifies potential buyers for your products or services, and leads them through a call-to-action and conversion. Beyond this, you will need to optimize the site for higher search engine rankings relevant to your target prospects. This is the baseline, but it’s probably not enough. You will also need to be dynamic with your Web-based outreach, including newsletters, blogging, and social media posting on platforms likely to be used by your targets. You might also need to utilize digital advertising as well.
In other words, before you can even begin to believe the internet can serve as your salesperson, you must make sure you have a comprehensive Web presence and ongoing Internet-based initiatives. These can work 24/7 to draw leads and funnel them to conversion. Obviously, creating and maintaining such efforts requires time, strategy, diligence, management, and a reasonable budget. So, understand upfront that the Internet is not a cheap and easy alternative to having a salesperson or sales team.
Where the Internet Can Excel
There are, of course, many areas where the Internet can serve you well and enhance your sales efforts. For example, it can be a terrific source of information about your company, your products, and your services. Properly crafted, that information can generate leads, qualify prospective buyers, and lead them into your website-based sales funnel toward conversion. It can do all this while making the sales cycle and sales process shorter and less stressful for the buyer. In fact, your Web presence can change the very nature of the sales process, transforming it into a buying process instead. After all, if the prospect finds you via the Internet, they come to your site with a motivated curiosity and a predisposition to buy.
Depending on the nature of what you are selling, your Internet presence can, indeed, close the sale with an online buy at your website. This is especially true if you sell products in business-to-consumer transactions; even more so if you sell products that are easily understood B2C commodities.
Why You Might Still Need a Salesperson
Almost every business needs a solid online presence and can benefit from digital initiatives to create awareness and generate leads. But not every business can sell effectively via the Internet. Here are some fundamental reasons you might still need a salesperson:
- You are a business-to-business seller
- Your customers aren’t tech-savvy or comfortable completing Web-based transactions
- Your accounts are large, and your transactions are high-dollar
- You need to prove value to make the sale, but your value proposition is complex
- Your Web presence isn’t strategically fully developed
- What you sell depends on an emotional appeal best delivered in person
- Your products or services are often custom-tailored to serve clients with infinitely unique needs
- You maintain the mindset that the internet is a lead-generation tool, but only a person-to-person dialogue can complete the sales process
The Bottom Line:
At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors often encounter business owners who believe the Internet can replace their sales team, and thus, save money and increase profitability. In some cases, this might be true, but in many other cases, we find that the best use of online initiatives is to generate leads and deliver those leads to a skilled salesperson for conversion. The distinction, of course, is highly dependent on many factors, so it pays to proceed strategically and with caution as you consider if the Internet means you no longer need a salesperson. To learn more, click here to connect with a Sales Xceleration Advisor in your area, or contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.