It’s a common presumption in this age of instant information that when a buyer finds you online, the sale is as good as done and the sales process becomes irrelevant. That would certainly streamline your sales effort and make it quicker and easier to boost revenue, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy (nor should it be). Let’s label this myth as busted! Here’s why:
An Important Statistic and What It Means for Your Company
It is now generally accepted that two-thirds (or more) of the buyer’s “journey” to their decision to purchase is done online. Easy access to information makes an online search a natural and essential starting point. The good news is that this can expose your company to interested buyers you might not have even been aware of. The bad news is that your online presence can also disqualify your company from consideration without you even knowing it. More bad news is that your online information could mislead interested buyers and end up wasting your time and theirs. So let’s take a look at how that happens and what you should do about it.
SMBs Finding One Another Online
It’s true that small- to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) tend to buy from other companies like their own. In other words, SMBs buy from SMBs. But it’s also true that most smaller businesses often don’t have the resources to provide and maintain a Web presence that adequately tells their story, leads prospects down the proper online path, and makes sure that only good matches end up in the sales cycle. Think of it as a form of online dating – only for business matchups. You provide certain information about your business online that triggers interest from someone looking for what you have to offer. So far so good. But if the information your website provides is inaccurate or paints the wrong picture of your assets (in the form of the products or services you offer), the potential customer begins the relationship having been misled. That seldom works in personal relationships; and just as unlikely to work in the business world.
Enter the Sales Process
Again, it’s possible the buyer will engage with your sales personnel only after they’ve gone fairly deep into their own process of qualifying your company as a likely solution provider. But that doesn’t mean that their process should supplant yours. And if your online presence has given the buyer a false sense of confidence that they’re in the right place, their self-qualification could be a misqualification that should be a disqualification. How do you find this out and correct it? By using your own sales process – or at least portions of it.
Once the buyer makes the connection, make sure your salesperson doesn’t merely accept and assume that the deal will be a good fit. While it might be tempting to avoid asking questions and simply take the money of an eager buyer, a bad customer relationship could tarnish your company’s reputation and perhaps even jeopardize the other company’s bottom line or the futures of its employees. The better choice is to take a slight pause, take a step back, and go through the vetting that should already be part of your sales process.
To Ensure a Good Fit, Ask the Right Questions
Asking questions is the simplest and fastest way to avoid a bad sales relationship that should never have happened in the first place. Beyond this, taking the time to ask validating questions shows the buyer that you are interested in their problem or need, and that you want to make sure you can provide the right solution.
So start the business relationship with questions like these:
- “How did you find out about us?”
- “What do you know about our products and services?”
- “How would you describe your current problem or need?”
- “Why do you see our solutions as a good fit?”
With a few simple qualifying questions like these, you can quickly ascertain if the buyer who found your business online is indeed a great fit for what you have to offer. If not, it’s better to know that at this point and perhaps direct the prospect to another solution provider. Again, questions like these should be part of your sales process anyway. You won’t necessarily have to go all the way back to the top of your sales funnel, but backing up a step or two could help you avoid costly transactions and bad relationships.
Using Your Sales Process and Your Sales Structure to Avoid Missteps
Doing your due diligence as part of your sales process can help you stay on track to serve customers well. While your sales process is the most visible functional part of your overall sales structure, both components can help your company avoid costly errors in acquiring and serving customers. To be sure of this, your entire sales structure must be efficient, effective and well-defined; and within that structure, your strategies, tactics and processes must address the likelihood that buyers will find your company online.
The Bottom Line:
Buyers finding your company via your online information present a great opportunity in most cases. They present themselves as interested, perhaps even eager, customers-in-waiting, so your prospecting work is seemingly already accomplished. But don’t buy in to the myth that when a buyer finds you online, the sale is in the bag and your sales process is unnecessary. By taking a step back and asking some simple questions, you will validate the business relationship and start it off on the right foot. Your sales process – and indeed, your entire sales structure – should be set up for the possibility of customers finding you online, even if their own process has led them to your company by mistake.
To learn more about how Sales Xceleration’s licensed Advisors help smaller businesses implement sales strategies and build validating sales processes, contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.