Make Your Web Site a Sales Tool

By: Thomas Young

The recent turbulence in the stock market has left many people questioning the real impact of the Internet on business. Internet stock prices, especially e-retailers, have dropped dramatically in the past few weeks and this is a good thing. Many of these over-valued e-companies were not following sound marketing and sales strategies. The businesses that survive this initial Internet craze will be those that know how to implement marketing strategies that work on, and off, the Internet. Here are a few key strategies for developing an Internet marketing strategy that leads to sales.

Develop an Internet Marketing Plan

The first step is develop a clear understanding of what you want your Web site to do for the business. There is no magic bullet or quick-fix. Integrating a Web site into your sales and marketing strategy takes work. The first step is determine the specific benefits to your target market, or visitors, to your Web site. Do you want your site to be an on-line brochure, information resource or interactive tool? Answer these questions from the perspective of your customers.

The Web Site Supports Your Sales Channels

It is absolutely critical that your Web site supports your sales channels, such as your sales team, direct mail, re-sellers, telemarketing and other channels. Many companies have Web sites that actually compete with existing channels. This is a lose-lose scenario and leads to sluggish sales and confused customers. Retailers, or re-sellers, are often hurt the worse.

Qualify Buyers on the Web

Prospective customers that have reviewed your site are more likely to buy. In this way the site functions as a qualifier and needs analysis tool. Potential customers have their questions answered and should be ready to make a buying decisions. One of the best-qualified visitors to your site is a prospect that has been directed to the site by a sales rep. This visitor will have a specific reason for coming to the site and usually converted into a sale.

Sales Objections are Handled On-Line

When objections arise, the sales rep can send people to the Web site. A good site will build credibility and allow the customer to look at the information with no pressure to respond or act at that time. A Web site that pushes customer hot buttons will help ease objections and build trust and confidence that you can help. Email is another great way to handle objections. It lets the customer stay in control and relaxes the pressure. Always validate the objection in your message. These two methods are also a great way to qualify potential clients and handle objections, if they do not take the time to read your email, or visit your Web site, then they probably are not going to move forward.

Quality is Better than Quantity

On the Web, it is much better to work with a few quality customers, then to be inundated with inquiries and visitors who have no intention of doing business with you. It is important to set up a promotion strategy for the site, including a search engine strategy, that will bring quality visitors. Do not just go for massive hits, or you will be bogged down and waste valuable time responding to useless inquiries. Focus on quality over quantity.

Track Activity on Your Web Site

Ask your Web developer about programs that track visitors to your site. This is an important part of your strategy and will be essential information needed to modify your site to better meet your customer’s needs. Include on your site a customer satisfaction survey and polling to collect feedback from customers on their thoughts about your Web site and business.

These are just a few tips on developing a successful Internet sales and marketing plan. Despite the fluctuations on Wall Street, the Internet is still the most powerful marketing tool of the new century and companies that get it right will thrive.

Tom Young, MBA is president of Intuitive Websites, a sales training and marketing consulting firm helping companies increase revenues. He can be reached at 719-481-4040, or email at  tom@intuitivewebsites.com.