When I say the word ‘salesperson’, what feelings come to mind? Is it one of annoyance, thinking about someone who’s trying to sell you something you’re not interested in? Or perhaps it’s your own dislike or fear towards selling in your business?
I don’t know what it is about us Brits, but we seem to have quite a negative attitude towards anything related to selling. People think that sales people are slimy or pushy and they’re rarely welcomed in as an invited guest.
Whilst we can’t change what people think about sales people, as the owner of a business or someone in any way responsible for selling, it’s really quite a dangerous attitude for you to have.
Selling is all around us. Whether it’s selling the benefits of your products or services, selling your team on why they should do something your way, or even selling your children on why it’s not wise to just eat sweets instead of vegetables.
The other week, I took a trip out with my parents and my older sister Nicola. We visited a nice rural shopping centre in Leicestershire, in the hope of getting some new shoes for my sister who has unfortunately had a problem with her foot and has been in pain recently when she’s walking.
The shop in question, which I can’t remember the name of, was apparently a reputable shoe shop known for its quality and would hopefully give my sister, Nicola, some much needed relief.
We arrived at what looked like a large indoor shopping complex and home to about twenty individual retailers. It was a huge open plan layout with no boundaries, allowing one shop to blend seamlessly into the next.
After a fascinating walk around an aquarium and thoroughly enjoying watching my daughter, Maple’s intrigue with all of the beautifully coloured tropical fish, we set off in search of the shoes.
It wasn’t long before we found the shop, and indeed, a number of pairs of shoes which looked like they would be suitable. I set off in search of an assistant to get some help with trying them on and finding the right size.
The problem was, they’d gone home. There was a sign on the cashier desk that basically said that due to unforeseen staff illness, the shop was closed.
It’s hard to imagine how the shop can be closed with no staff, yet you can still browse their products, but that’s down to their open plan layout.
Anyway, as we were leaving, I noticed another shop next door, which sold specialist equipment and clothing for people with disabilities. We walked over to see if we could find anything suitable and avoid a wasted journey.
I knew this shop was open as I’d immediately clocked the sales assistant, who was sat busily typing at her computer.
We started browsing the shoes, but we didn’t really see anything that stood out. While Nicola is the eldest of our siblings, she was born with severe disabilities and requires full time assistance. As Nicola’s carer, Mum continued to browse the store in search of products which could make things a little easier.
The next section we looked at was the electric bath chairs. Nicola’s current chair is quite old and causing stress to my Mum because of its weight when lifting it in and out of the bath. We tried lifting a number of the chairs to see how they compared weight-wise.
Then we moved on to other sections including specialist clothing and other accessories that would potentially help to ease frustrating problems that either Nicola or my Mum are currently facing.
Much to my amazement, during the time we were in the store there wasn’t a peep from the sales assistant, sat there, still tapping away at something clearly more important. It’s almost unbelievable, that there were potential customers in the store looking at some pretty expensive products and she didn’t think to even say hello.
She could have come over, asked about the difficulties my Mum was currently facing and recommended solutions to make her life easier. She could have even got our contact information so they could communicate further in the future.
But instead there was nothing.
Needless to say, we left the store without parting with a single penny.
So why is this such a big deal?
Well it isn’t for you and me. But to the business owner who’s spending their hard-earned money to rent that unit, and probably a large amount more to drive customers through the door, it might be of more interest. Especially given that he or she is also paying the salary for this ‘sales’ person too.
Now you may argue that if we actually wanted to buy something we should have picked it up and taken it to the checkout. But, I can assure you, the best businesses don’t leave things as important as getting new sales to chance in that way.
This really got me thinking. While the lack of service stood out like a sore thumb in a physical shop, it’s not so easy to spot the exact same behaviour when it happens on your website.
Think about it for a minute. We walked into the shop, browsed the products we could see, there was no attempt at communication and then walked out.
That’s exactly what’s happening on the vast majority of business websites and potentially yours too.
People land on your website, have a click around and see if anything seems immediately useful, then they click back and ‘walk out’.
For many businesses, especially those that use their website to generate leads, all future sales start in the same way. They start with a conversation between you and your prospect. Furthermore, the conversation should be based around their needs, not yours.
What are you doing on your website to get the conversation started?
Here are a few ideas to get you started…
- Better sales copy – Write sales copy that is conversational and focused on your customer and their problems, needs and desires. Not only on you, your business or your services.
- Offer a free lead magnet – Do everything you can to get the contact information required to start an actual conversation. Offer something of value such as a guide, book, video or discount in exchange for their details.
- Use live chat – Add a live chat to your website, so you can initiate an actual conversation there and then. This is unobtrusive and convenient for your visitors and can be very effective when managed by a member of your team or by using automated chatbots.
- A clear call to action – Remove any ambiguity on what the customer should do next by, clearly describing exactly what the reader should do, why they should do it and why they should do it now.