Salesmen of the past were experts in reading the subtleties of human expression – body language, speech patterns, even silence. A good salesman had to know how to “read” their prospect in order to determine which buttons to push to get a positive response.
While there are still professionals working in direct sales, more and more companies – large and small – are relying on their website to help them in the sales process.
Using your website to make sales is an entirely different process from face-to-face sales. It’s impossible to see your prospect and react to changes in mood, body language, and speech. In fact, unless the customer specifically makes their presence known through email or some other interactive method, the business owner will probably never even know that someone showed any interest in the product.
E-commerce experts believe that shoppers make online purchases based on an emotional response to the website they visit. In fact, they believe that at least 90% of all online sales happen because of a favorable response to the website itself – the look and feel of the site – and not necessarily the product offered.
This means that business owners need a website that not only anticipates the needs of the customer but is attractive, functional, and aesthetically appealing.
A business or sales website should never be a set-it-and-forget-it marketing tool. Think of it as an ongoing process. That doesn’t mean that you should have “under construction” signs all over your website, but it does mean that you should be constantly monitoring your site and making both minor and major improvements.
Here are some ways to fine tune your website to optimize sales:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Pay attention to design. First impressions are critical. Your website must be visually appealing and easy to navigate. You have only a few seconds to capture the interest of your visitor. If you don’t they’ll just move on to one of the thousands of other sites out there that are competing for your customers. If you’re not an expert in design and layout, hire an expert web designer to help you. The price you pay will more than make up for lost sales.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Collect feedback from your customers. There are a lot of ways to solicit feedback from your visitors – email, contact forms, live support, and surveys. Take advantage of these methods to find out more about your customers and – more importantly – why they are buying or not buying.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Learn from complaints. Don’t view vocal customers with complaints as a hassle. If you receive a malicious email from a customer or visitor, resist the urge to fire back your own nasty response. Instead, try to understand the customer’s problems and frustrations – and then learn from them. If one person feels that way, chances are others do, too. Learn from mistakes, make the appropriate changes, and put them in your past.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Make sure your site works. There’s some disagreement as to the effectiveness of lots of special effects, bells, and whistles. Some designers avoid them and others love them. No matter which you choose, make sure they work. Nothing turns off a potential customer as dead links, broken forms, and graphics that don’t load. Make sure that whatever you show your customers works as advertised.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Monitor your traffic. Most commercial web hosts provide some kind of control panel that will provide you with statistics about your traffic. Monitor these reports to watch for trends. You can tell a lot about your marketing efforts and customer patterns from statistics. Avoid hit counters that are visible to your customer. Some visitors will be put off by a hit counter with a low number. Hit counters are deceptive anyway. If your web host does not provide comprehensive statistics, invest in software to do the job.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Monitor page rank. There are many services that will provide you with search engine optimization reports that show how your web site ranks in the search engines, how your site fares with keyword popularity, and how many other sites link back to yours. While page rank statistics are not the end-all in site popularity, they do provide a piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding what your customers are looking for. Use these tools to make changes and then monitor the results.
Each and every day, more and more people are going online to make their purchases. The Internet offers unparalleled convenience and simplicity for tech-savvy users. But in order to capture your share of this growing market, you must provide a web site that will motivate your customers to buy from you.
Anticipate your customers’ needs, provide a quality product, and offer excellent customer service and your website will become a modern-day salesman.