The Basics of Online Business
I’m sure you would be hard pressed to find a supplier in the Canadian electronics industry that does not have a website.
But you would think that in the 15 or so years since the Internet hit mainstream, industry participants would have gotten a better grasp on how to leverage to power of the ‘net to fill their sales funnels. However, judging from job ads that still demand that sales people know how to cold call as well as the misuse of websites and pay-per-click advertising, you’d be hard pressed to think otherwise.
Build It And They Will Come. Right?
Part of the problem stems from the belief that if you build a website, people will buy from you. That may have worked 10 years ago, but not anymore. So, before any discussion of Internet marketing, search engines and site design takes place, you really need to go back to first principles.
You need to understand “the why” and “the how” people buy. If you do not understand this, you waste time and money attempting to drive online sales or generate sales. If you get your sale and marketing departments get their collective heads around this, your cup will runneth over.
Do you know why customers buy?
Regardless of what you sell and to whom you sell it to, there is a basic reason why people make a purchase decision. People buy a product or service because they have a problem that needs solving. Customers don’t buy pin connectors, embedded systems or semiconductors. They buy a solution to a problem that these items provide. When people are looking for a solution to a problem, they want the benefits your product provides, they don’t really care about your logo, your years in business or all your awards.
To give you a quick perspective, take a look at your company’s website and answer the question. How does it solve my customers’ problems? Or more importantly, do you know what your customers’ problems are?
The Internet, the world’s greatest problem solving machine
So, if people have a problem they want to solve, they look for a solution. This much we have established already. Now, let’s see how this relates to your company’s sales process. Regardless of the product, all customers go through a purchasing process.
Left: typical Google search returns for "connectors."
After people identify a problem, they search for and explore possible avenues for solving this problem. During the searching process, they refine, evaluate and redefine the buying criteria for the decision to purchase and narrow the field of choice to the “best few” alternatives. Depending on whose research about online behavior you read, upwards of 85% of this research starts (and ends online). Once prospects reach a decision and choose, they take action by making a purchase.
Ask Yourself, “So What Does This Mean For Me?”
This is where the whole concept of pushing and pulling prospects comes into play. Taking into account the basic fact that people do business with people and companies they trust – as well as that people need information before they make a purchase – have your sales and marketing people worked together to set the company up to attract customers by positioning the firm as a trusted source of information?
Not a hawker of silicon chips, or a peddler of cables, but a provider of solutions. This is what pulls customers in. Keep on trying just to sell connectors and LEDs, and you are trying to push your product on people.
So before you go running off to spend more money with Google on pay-per-click advertising or redesigning your logo, examine how your website facilitates each step of the purchasing process, especially how it educates and informs your prospective customers about the various ways they can go about solving their problems.
Josh Kerbel is Managing Director of Sales Funnel, a digital marketing agency that specializes in lead generation and prospect management systems. To get a copy of the free white paper, 8 Steps to Internet Marketing Success, please send an email to email@example.com