A very simple picture of an online sales pipeline can be imagined as consisting of 3 parts. 1) Marketing which drives the leads to your product 2) sales which converts the customer and 3) customer management which retains the customers.
In this post we take a look at the sales portion of the pipeline and look at several ways which you can improve that all important conversion rate.
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow should keep you from responding to your leads!
Speed and consistency is king
Sales leads have very short shelf lives, especially for online leads. Quality of leads decrease dramatically as they pass the one hour mark. This article published in Harvard Business Review mentioned that leads addressed within the first hour are 7 times more likely to develop into meaningful conversations.
Despite this fact only 37% of businesses respond to leads within the first hour, another 16% more responded within the first day with 23% not responding at all. Over time, this translates into many missed opportunities and loads of money wasted on advertising and lead generation.
This reiterates the value of real-time customer management tools. Rather than getting leads to leave email addresses and numbers, live chat tools such as Zopim allow businesses to respond to leads in real time.
However, it can only be as effective as the person behind the tool. To put it bluntly, 7x more conversations for an untrained support representative will still mean low conversions. But 7x more meaningful conversations for a trained sales person can be the difference the world of a difference for your bottom line.
Which brings me to my next point.
Sales is not just for the sales team
How often do you meet an employee of a company that does not know what the unique selling point of their product is?
The answer: Too often
Now, how often do you meet a founder of a company that does not know what the unique selling point of their product is?
The answer: Almost never
All too often, asking the questions of “whats so different about your company?” will get you different responses depending on who you ask. Engineers spend time working on a feature and will probably feel it is important. Designers take pride in their interface and will naturally think that it sets the product apart. Customer support representatives (CSRs) listen to complaints day in day out and think that your entire product is broken.
As founder or sales manager it is your role to let everyone know every aspect is important. While at the same time communicate to them, functions which clearly set your product apart from its competitors – your Unique Selling Point (USP).
We echo Tom Tunguz’s sentiments that everyone in a company should be able to sell. It isn’t that every employee should be have a sales pitch ready, rather everyone in the company should know what makes your product special so that they will be able to effectively function as an evangelist of your brand. It is especially important for customer facing employees to have enough knowledge to build on a warm lead to either convert them or keep the lead warm for a call from your sales team.
Build customer relationships
While new customers are the key to explosive growth rates, repeat customers form a stable base for your to grow your company upon. It is no secret that building customer relationships helps you retain customers and encourage repeat purchases while possibly converting them into brand evangelists who refer new customers.
Tools such as Customer Relationship Management systems and Zopim’s live chat can help you deliver good customer service by increasing the channels of communication available to the customer, managing information related to the customer and also ensuring that customers are able to get service that is timely.
The key takeaway
Customers should be responded to in a timely manner. By training your CSRs well and making use of tools such as Zopim, you not only improve your customer service but also improve your sales conversion rates at the same time. This boils down to online sales gradually shifting to a more personal form. With more and more companies entering the fray, the bar has been raised.
How do you see online sales developing? Do you agree with us that online sales is increasingly becoming more personal with tools such as Zopim? Or do you have any thoughts on online sales in general? Leave a comment because we would love to hear from you