This article is a ten-minute read.
Ask any small business owner what the most challenging thing about running their operation is, and they’ll tell you that it’s sales. If you don’t have sales, you don’t have a business.
Obviously, to make sales, you need sales leads. Only then can you begin courting your new contact with a view to persuade them to part with their money.
Websites are a great way to attract new sales leads. Why have a static brochure or attend an expensive trade show when you can create an interactive space with lots of pages that tell the world how good you are?
Obviously, it’s not that easy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a web design industry, or SEO. You wouldn’t have companies like us.
So, in the ultra-competitive online world of 2022, can you still expect to attract B2B sales leads online? We’d say yes, of course. But, only if you plan your sales process; and focus on selling the right steps, at the right time, in the right way.
Firstly, let’s brush through some initial thoughts to bear in mind, just to get you in the mood.
- No one cares about you and your sales offering. They care about themselves and their problem.
- You are probably (almost definitely) not unique or special in any way, especially to a stranger.
- The Internet is jam-packed with people looking for attention; you are just another one of those people.
- There are probably fewer people looking for what you have than you think.
Right, now that’s out of the way, and if you’re not quite ready to throw the towel in just yet, this is where opportunities get interesting. By taking an objective and pragmatic approach, you should be able to convert your existing sales pitches to make them more compelling to potential customers and attract sales leads.
Good, Great Or Average?
Most small, local businesses get new clients through recommendations. This means they were good enough for someone to have put their reputation on the line to suggest them to a friend.
If you don’t currently get recommendations, it’s time to look in the mirror and get your house in order, first and foremost. Focus on delivering excellent service. Focus on your existing customer base. They could be your most dynamic sales force if you become ‘worth it’. Simply telling someone how good you are doesn’t work; it’s not for you to decide. You have to BE good. You have to be worthy of someone staking their reputation to refer you.
If you don’t have this to begin with, and don’t want to focus on improving, it’s not worth reading on.
You must understand exactly what your service is and who it’s for. This determines your price and target market. You can not, and should not, be all things to all people. In the same way that different people shop in different supermarkets - often paying different amounts for the same product - you need to understand ‘who’ your market is.
Your customers need to value the proposition as a whole. If, for instance, you want to charge premium prices, your service needs to demonstrate the value-add as a priority. Then, any marketing messages or promotions (such as case studies) must display your relevance to this specific market.
This eliminates confusion. It announces that ‘this is what you do’ and ‘this is who you do it for’.
The Buyer Journey
Buying stuff is much harder than it used to be. There are a lot of choices out there. There are also a lot of people judging choices (reviews). It can get confusing. After all, no one wants to make a mistake by buying an inferior product or service.
Online, it may take days, weeks or months for someone to cross the line from browsing to enquiring. That journey may take place on a computer, a phone or through an app. Your visitors may come from social media; they may be searching.
As the seller, we have little control over the buyer's journey - from thinking they want something to finding where to buy it. We can only set up our stall, adapt and optimise, and smooth the path using any feedback we get. We need to put the customer at the heart of the experience.
We need focus. We need to know who we want to attract and why they’d [maybe] want what we have.
Unpick every chat you have with a new prospect or customer. Discover more about why people use you (or why they want to use you). And, if they don’t want to use you, discover what got in the way. These conversations will help drive and refine your sales process. The way you sell - what you say and how you say it - is not a fixed thing; it needs to evolve.
These conversations will also offer the benefit of uncovering dipablipotential new niches to leverage for other sales pitches (landing pages).
Be objective. Start to use the language you hear rather than the industry words you think are the ones to use. You will soon begin creating more engaging content for the people who matter - potential customers.
What Is A Sale To You?
Final thought, before we get stuck in. Let's say you manage to attract a visitor to your site, and there is a good match. What next? What do you want to happen?
If you are selling a service or a complex product, the chances are you are looking for someone to make contact: to call, email or fill in a form.
So, let's remember to focus only on that. Don't expect too much, too soon. Bearing in mind that at this stage, you are simply trying to add someone to your sales pipeline, keep in mind that you'll have plenty of opportunities further down the line to add in more detail to complete the sale.
Stick to making this part of the sale happen now. The transaction (in this context) is simply getting someone's contact details. Obviously, when I say simply…
Shaping Sales Content
So, here we are - time to create the online sales pitch.
Any good sales text needs to have shape. We need to lead with problems and solutions, build a picture of how things work (and how they can work), offer proof of success, and then push the sale.
I like to think of old TV commercial structures when I think of this online sales process.
Do you have a problem with X? If so, we can help.
Our new Y will solve all your problems.
Here’s an example of someone already benefitting.
Do Z to find out more.
We need to deliver information that the audience can relate to quickly. We need them to feel comfortable with taking the next step. In this case, it's simply getting them to scroll further down the page, one step at a time. This means we need to create agreement.
If you think about it, all we are doing at this stage is trying to find common ground with the person viewing our web page. We need them to trust us. The quickest way we can do that is by agreeing on a few things. From the beginning of our sales content to the end, our job is first to gain agreement and then keep it.
Imagine someone landing on your web page. We're trying to get them to nod affirmatively, then keep them nodding.
- Do you have a problem with X? Yes, I do.
- Would your business function better if you managed to make Y happen? Yes, it would.
If we lose agreement, we lose trust, and we probably lose our sales lead.
We need to shape content for people to dip in and out of - short, sharp paragraphs and sections. Use clear headings. Use images that break things up. Use diagrams to clarify statements.
Use bullet points because:
- They are easy to see.
- They are easy to dip into because they're quick and to the point.
- They are a great device for making strong statements that engage people.
Also, use anchor links, but link downwards, not away to other pages. In-page links are great for scrolling people down the page toward the contact form.
Problems and Solutions
So, this is the lead-in to your landing page - the big introduction. When a quick press of the 'back' button to a search engine can take a visitor back to millions more choices, we need to grab their attention quickly.
So, assuming people don't know your brand, let's assume they're not that interested in you yet. They have an agenda; they are on a mission; they want their question answered first - the question that led them to your page in the first place.
So, our first job is to ask or answer those questions first.
- Do you have THIS problem?
- Are you looking to solve THIS problem?
- We have a solution to help solve THIS problem.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
The more succinct, the better. The more context the problem and solution have, the more likely someone will start to scroll down.
Remember, we can have multiple landing pages for the same thing, so we don't need to spread ourselves too thin and dilute the context. In my experience selling websites, I have had sales headlines such as:
- How to attract more local business in Basingstoke.
- How to get more sales leads for my double glazing company.
- Outsourced Marketing Services in Basingstoke.
For each section, I like to finish with a call to action. This is usually a link to the enquiry form at the bottom of the page. Why would you not take advantage if someone is ready to contact you at any point in the sales pitch?
Building A Picture
So, we've piqued their interest. Now we need to add meat to the bones. We need to keep them nodding, and we need to keep them wanting more. Be succinct, but make it appealing.
By all means, introduce yourself and what you do, but do it in one sentence. The prospect still doesn't care that much about you yet. They want to learn more about their problem/solution query. They need to know if you really understand their pain.
Your job, therefore, is to build on your initial claims. Use your commercial experience to add context. Speak their language. Make them realise that you understand and can help solve their specific problem because you've done it before.
Use examples of problems you know they may have and how you can solve them.
Remember, though: Don't over-egg the sale. You still need to be your own personable self. You need to speak in an endearing way. As soon as someone realises they are being sold AT, they'll put the guards up.
Your idea of what success looks like may differ from your customers. Firstly, make sure you understand what that success comprises. Then ensure you cover those bases.
For instance, when you sell new websites and search engine optimisation in the digital marketing industry, people used to talk about Google positions. That's evolved to sales-lead generation. Based on my customer feedback, it's actually about good quality lead generation - not attracting all people, just the right people. So, if I were to sell SEO or web design as a service, I would pitch it as such, with examples of companies I've worked with who have benefitted and how they attract relevant companies online, with much higher conversion rates than they are used to.
Truth be told, for many of them, the outcome is all they care about, not the website or SEO itself. These are just the mechanics.
- Use summary case studies with context.
- Push the outcome/result that matters most to the audience.
- Keep the benefits simple; focus on the ones that solve the problem.
Pushing The Sale
We spoke earlier about what the sale is. This is now your chance to push it home. Whether it's an informal chat, a free audit or a meeting request, you need to compound the value of the proposition. Getting someone to step over the line from anonymous to prospect is a big one, so ask.
Objections and Reframing
You will no doubt get objections in your sales process. Write them down, reframe them, and use them in your content as features. What that means, simplistically, is that you need to work out good answers to overcome any objection.
Example: Your outsourced marketing service has an expensive day rate.
Imagine employing a marketing person. How much would it cost, and what level of person would you get for your money? All those extra expenses that come with employing someone, such as holidays, sick days, national insurance, pension contributions, HR support, IT set-up, etc. How much would that day rate work out in real terms?
Compare that to getting a senior-level professional on tap. With a business relationship rather than an employee relationship, you're getting someone that understands your objectives at a higher level. Plus, you can stop the contract easily when you need to if you are not happy.
This answer can be formulated into a positive sales pitch:
Save money on directly employing a marketing assistant and get better quality results. Our service offers a senior-level marketing professional who will dig deep to understand what your business really wants and what can realistically be achieved. Then, we'll deliver it, no doubt saving you money on your existing marketing spend. Get better results for less outlay.
You can also look to reframe the context to an objection. Say you have a service for £300 per month, which someone is umming and arghing about.
Well, that cost is less than a cup of coffee a day.
Here's an example sales page I created, based on the specific objection I listed above. After publishing it, I sent it to a few contacts, whose feedback helped me adapt and refine (and embellish) the content.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to making a sale online (or getting a sales lead). A lot depends on what is realistic. But, by fashioning an experience that is more geared toward your audience and what they want, you will start to make your offering more appealing.
Objectively creating a defined sales pitch is something good salespeople do, usually tailoring answers on the fly in front of a prospect. Our job, as marketers, is to transfer this online. Although it will never be as effective as face-to-face, just by changing language and focus, we can improve our online sales lead generation programme, attracting new people into our sales pipeline.