Death of a Salesman … Let Prospects Sell Themselves

It amazes me how often even companies selling web marketing services insist you contact them if you want a demo of their products. Even more of them won’t even give you an idea of their pricing online.

Yes, I get that pricing may vary depending on the client and its needs (and, let’s face it, their willingness to pay). But why waste everybody’s time if your prospect has a budget of $1,000 and your entry-level solution costs $10,000?

Good salespeople are hard to find (and keep). In the B2B world, IDC research found that less than 1/3 of sales reps (29%) show up well prepared for their presentations. No wonder prospects feel that taking sales calls is a waste of their time!

In his new book, The Retail Revival, Doug Stephens notes that sales people in the B2C world are even worse. In most retail companies they are poorly trained and have minimal product knowledge. This, he argues, is one of the factors killing retail stores.

Cut sales staff; grow sales

The good news is that the Internet makes it possible to vastly reduce the need for sales staff and make those you do have much more effective. This is true whether you are selling to retail consumers or to business. But it does take investment, and far too few Canadian companies are prepared to make the needed investments.

Calgary’s Optimum Energy Products Ltd. has consistently invested in e-commerce and sales automation, with the result that they no longer have any outside sales staff, and they have been consistently profitable and growing for over a decade.

Here’s what they learned along the way:

  1. Humans make more mistakes than computers do. By automating the boring tasks you free up staff to spend time on things computers don’t do well, like understanding and solving unusual customer problems.
  2. Make sure your website provides information relevant to both the end user and the person who’s going to pay. These may not be the same people, especially in the B2B world.
  3. Make everything SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. That includes your catalogues, photos, videos and web pages.
  4. What customers really want is: knowledgeable staff, speed, convenience, and a good flow of information between you and them. Automation can help you deliver all of these well.
  5. Open source software is a great starting point, but not the end. Recognize that it will need further programming to make it do what you need it to do.

You can hear a full interview with CEO, Grant Meadows, at the Frank Online Marketing Show web page.

Act now, before it is too late!

With American companies like Target and Walmart now aggressively targeting Canadian consumers both online and off, and a looming labour shortage as the baby boomers retire, Canadian companies must invest in automation and an effective web presence to survive and thrive.

The good news for Canadian business is that we can compete more effectively than ever before against highly-populated, lower wage countries. Let’s do it!

Tema Frank

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Tags: Digital, B2B, Ecommerce, Search, Technology, Customer Experience, Social Media