Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Make internet leads 7x more effective with 1 simple trick

You might not realize it yet but, like my internet marketing team, you live in the world of the slight edge… Tiny improvements over your competition can tip the scales in your favor in a major way.

When we see a 10% improvement we do a quick chair dance and then go mine for the next golden 10% increase. Over time, all those 10% increases add up to massive results.

So when we find an easy way to get a 700% increase in lead effectiveness that requires absolutely no special skills, knowledge or training, some table-top river dancing may be on the horizon.

This is legit so put it on your schedule to start implementing right away!

These are the facts from the Havard Business Review:

These results are especially shocking given how quickly online leads go cold—a phenomenon we explored in a separate study, which involved 1.25 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies in the U.S. Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

In other words, if you respond within an hour, you’ll close more deals. Period.

Any time someone tells my team that the quality of the website leads they have been receiving isn’t very good, my first question is always, “how long does it take you to respond to the leads?

When I say it’s almost not worth responding if it takes you more than an hour, most people are shocked.

Obsolete Yellow Pages BookBut really, is it that hard to believe?

Back in the days when Yellow Pages (the actual big, fat books, not the online variety) were a primary method for people finding service businesses, everyone knew that if you couldn’t respond to inquiries quickly, they were just going to move down to the next listing, your competitor, and call him.

Consider a different example. If I’m shopping online for a water softener Saturday morning, I’m probably going to contact you and a few other companies. Heck, I may even decide to take a ride over to Home Depot and see what they have to offer. If one of those companies responds to me before I get in my car to go to Home Depot, then I’m obviously going to trust them more than the guy I don’t hear from until Monday afternoon.

Do automated emails help?

E-mails can be scheduled to be automatically sent to everyone who fills out a contact form on your website and they can be a good idea to help confirm for the customer that their message did indeed go through.

It may buy you an extra hour.

But I’ve personally received automated emails from a company and that’s it. No follow-up whatsoever. Actually it just happened to me when trying to get my rims fixed for my car.

WheelsI contacted 3 companies.

The first had the best website and an automated email response… But that’s it. No follow-up and their phone line was just a voice mailbox so I didn’t leave a message.

Another emailed me back the next day saying he couldn’t help me.

The 3rd website probably hasn’t been updated since it was created in 2006. But…
He called me within 30 minutes of emailing him, explained what they do and what makes them unique, answered my questions and truly allayed my concerns about straightening bent aluminum rims.

He also got my $170. His website was outdated but his service, guarantee, and personal attention were great. More importantly, he delivered exactly what he promised since my fixed rims look great!

How do you get your sales reps to respond quickly?

So you see the value in a quick response, but aren’t real sure your salespeople will instantly start responding right away.

4 tips to improve your web lead quality and sales closing ratios by helping your reps respond quickly:

  1. Show them the data I listed in the first paragraph of this blog. Everyone responds better when they know WHY it’s important for them to do so.
  2. Make a list of your top 5-10 most common web inquiries a sales person would receive and then write up the perfect email response for each. Then have each sales rep save a copy of those responses in their email client and smart phone in “Drafts”. Now they can quickly copy and paste the best response for each inquiry while still having it come from an individual’s email address to make it personal.
  3. When your rep’s email a response, have them CC the sales manager. That way he can see when the lead came in and how long until a response was sent. Put up a chart or whiteboard showing the average response times for each rep each week. Salespeople are competitive (some with others and some just trying to break their own personal goals) so use that competitiveness to your advantage.
  4. As with all marketing, as your ROI improves, re-invest more marketing dollars online to keep your business growing.

What if my reps are paid on commission?

In my experience, paying commission does not translate into not providing any tools, resources, education or assistance for your sales team because they are all perfectly organized and hyper-motivated.

In other words, no matter how you pay people, provide them the tools they need to be successful and everyone wins. Especially your prospective new customers.

If you’re not already responding to all of your web inquiries within 60 minutes, or you really want to set yourself apart and respond to everyone within 5 minutes, then make internet lead response time a high priority in your next sales meeting!

To your success in closing more web leads, Bryan

How to write strong sales copy for your website

If you don’t currently have a sales pitch, or you’re trying to improve it, here’s a quick outline of how to put one together for your website.

The first thing I do when writing is start with an outline and I highly recommend it. Use an outline (or mind map) to just jot-down all your ideas and thoughts on the subject. It doesn’t have to make sense or flow smoothly. Not everything in your outline will make the final draft and a few things that weren’t in your outline will get added. From there, here are the steps to creating great copy.

Like catching this Yellowstone National Park geyser in action, finding quality sales copy is rare.

  1. Define your target customer. How old are they? What do they wear? Where do the shop? What do they drive? What motivates them? What do they absolutely love? What do they absolutely hate?
  2. Define what would you like the customer to do once hearing/seeing/reading your pitch. What’s the goal? Enter their email… Purchase a product… Contact you…
  3. Utilize the 4.5 Points of Marketing. Problem, Solution, Why us?, Why now?, Risk-Free
  4. Consider possible responses and questions. Don’t create a FAQ… With a FAQ you can’t control the dialogue. Step the reader through the 4.5 points of marketing while addressing all of their questions as they go along.
  5. Offer third-party testimonials and reference third-party resources. Those testimonials can be written or video. Include them along the side of your page so they’re viewable the whole time. Also, be careful when referencing third-party web pages. Generally you’re better to site the resource without a direct-link because you don’t really want someone leaving your web page to check out the resource and then never come back. However, in some instances it does make sense to provide the link; so use common sense.
  6. Pretend you’re sitting next to someone talking to them. Once you have that vision, take your outline and start writing sentences in the Conversational Marketing style as if you’re talking face-to-face.
  7. Highlight key points for the readers who will just skim. Also use numbered and bulleted lists as well as paragraph breaks, graphics, charts, and pictures to highlight important details that you don’t want the reader to miss.
  8. Test and Measure to determine which copy is most effective. In other words, have multiple landing pages and track your analytics to determine which page is achieving your goal from step 2 most often per visitor.
  9. Sign your letter, postcard, website, or marketing piece. People don’t buy from businesses. They buy from people. If you’re a small business use that personal touch to highlight how you’re different and therefore BETTER than dealing with a large faceless corporation.
  10. Include your most important part in the P.S. Whether you’re creating a newspaper ad, direct-mail postcard, writing an email, or direct-mail letter, studies have shown that people read the headline first; then they read the sub-heading; next they check out the pictures; and finally they read the P.S. or whatever is at the bottom of your ad.

Don’t forget to tell the truth! Which one are you more likely to believe and therefore respond to?

Everything must go!” OR “Our purchasing department made a mistake and ordered too much inventory so we need to clear out some stock.” Just don’t be that furniture company down the road that’s been having the “Going out of business! Must liquidate everything!” sale for the past 3 years. That’s not honest or ethical.

While we’re on the topic of ethics, your marketing should always be honest and up front. Don’t bait-and-switch… Don’t stretch the truth… Don’t tell little fibs that no one will ever notice… In the short term people will notice it and be put off… In the long run it’s toxic. It’s like a cancer lead by the marketing (or sales) department that keeps getting worse but that no one notices until it’s too late. It will eventually catch up with you and ultimately it’s never the most profitable way to run a business of any size.

To your success in writing sales copy, Bryan

P.S. My last 2 blogs were a bit long so I figured I’d shorten this one for you. My next blog on your Marketing Manual might exceed my 1,000 word limit, so consider yourself warned.

How to sell to the internet generation…

The generation of consumers who purchase a considerable amount online or who at least research everything online before buying is growing. Supposedly over 50% of Americans research online before making a household purchase. Approximately 100% of my friends do. Obviously these types of purchasers are only going to increase. Yet it seems many brick-and-mortar businesses, like my own, have trouble both understanding and selling to this new wave of consumer. Here are a few lessons you need to keep in mind when designing your website or responding to email inquiries from the internet generation.

The traits of internet consumers:

  1. Prefer to negotiate via email
  2. Always looking for a great deal
  3. Will wait patiently for the right deal
  4. Consider ourselves to be well-informed
  5. Expect a Guarantee
  6. Have little problem purchasing something site unseen (and can even prefer it)
  7. Require Testimonials

And now the nitty-gritty details of each trait…

1. Prefer to negotiate via email – There are a few reasons for this. We don’t want to be “pressured” by a slick-talking salesman. We like to take the time to reflect on the emails we receive to do additional research on competitors, pricing, specifications etc. before replying.  Sometimes we just don’t like the human interaction. We work best at 1:30am when your office is closed.

2. Always looking for a great deal – A quick example of this is my method of purchasing anything that takes batteries or requires a plug. For me, 90% of those things I purchase online. Once I determine the exact product I want (after exhaustive research) I check prices with Tigerdirect.com, Newegg.com, Buy.com, and Froogle.com. If a vendor shows up on Buy.com or Froogle.com who I’m not familiar with, I check it out on ResellerRatings.com. After all, the lowest price doesn’t really help me if it’s a shady business and never actually send me anything. This whole process takes me less than 10 minutes, usually less than 5. Moreover, I’m on mailing lists from the first 3 so that when a super special comes up, I know about it right away. 🙂 We internet shoppers are trained to get the best price, for the best product, along with the best service EVERY time.

3. Will wait patiently for the right deal – There are numerous examples of when I’ve done this, however just last week I made a purchase of an item I’ve been watching since January 30th, 2006. That’s correct, I waited 2 years and 9 months before pulling the trigger. Was it because the product improved or because I suddenly came into a bunch of cash that was burning through my wallet? No. I was just waiting for a GREAT deal. After 2 years of waiting for that deal and trying to negotiate one out of them I was starting to think it wasn’t coming…  Then low and behold they send me an email saying if you buy a sonos bundle in the next 3 days, they’ll throw in free speakers (about a $180 value). Yes! I jumped on it and swear that my sonos is the coolest thing ever. Even better then my $320 sunglasses… Which I only paid $160 for… But we don’t need to get into that. Keep in mind, the right deal does not necessarily mean we’re cheap. Check out Sonos.com and you’ll quickly learn that to replace my “antiquated” wireless music system that I paid $80 for 2 years ago with a Sonos (that essentially did the same thing but with a whole lot more features) I forked over $1300. (But I got $180 worth of speakers for free! What a great deal!)

4. Consider themselves to be well-informed – Whether they actually are an expert in car maintenance, replacing a roof, or accounting, they’ll think, because they read a few blogs, that they are. So don’t ignore that. Ask them questions about what they want, need, have researched, and are looking for to fish out exactly what they know so you don’t offend them by telling them something they think is brilliant is not. If you do make the mistake of inadvertantly calling something we read online stupid, we won’t call you on it, we’ll just assume you’re an idiot and should spend some more time learning about your trade. Be prepared to answer tough or even outlandish questions.

5. Expect a Guarantee – Let’s be honest here, we internet consumers are a very trusting bunch. WIthout seeing your office, you, or even your product we’ll fork over some money for the item we’re looking for. However, don’t mistake that for stupidity. The BEST internet marketers always offer a guarantee. Some of them are price match guarantees. Some are 30, 60, or 90 day trial guarantees. Some are 110% satisfaction guarantees. The list goes on and on and the type of guarantees they offer are much different than the ones we in the brick-and-mortar world are used to… I’ll write another blog focussing solely on creating a great guarantee to clarify this point further.

6. Have little problem buying something sight unseen – and often prefer it that way. Reference point 1 regarding email negotiations. We’re smart, informed, know where to get the best price, read all the online reviews of your business, and like your guarantee. Why do we need to talk to someone? This is where your website needs to fully understand the mind of the Internet Generation. If you’re selling a service or product that requires an onsite evaluation, inspection, analysis, etc. your website needs to sell that appointment! It should not be trying to sell your product because we can find that product (whether it’s exactly what’s needed for our situation or not) 100 different places online. By you requiring and selling the appointment you’re differentiating yourself from everyone else who says just give us money for this one-size-fits-all item.

7. Require Testimonials – We will NOT buy something online without reading and reviewing several testimonials or objective reviews of your business and your product. We’ve been sold by radio, TV, internet, billboards, direct mail, telemarketers and who knows what else our whole lives. We don’t buy that “Trust us we have a great product” crap. Unless several credible sources post positive reviews about a product or service we’re moving on to the next thing. Check out Amazon.com, Cars.com, Cnet.com, Newegg.com, Ebay.com etc. etc. etc. All major online retailers offer customers the ability to review products they’ve purchased to help prospective customers make the best decision. We’ve been trained to only buy things with great reviews so if your website doesn’t have any objective reviews or testimonials then forget it.

In summary, we are not the same type of consumer most businesses are accustomed to. Our requirements are different and expectations are higher. You (and your website) can decide to ignore our nuances… Or you can address them before your competitors and open up your business to a huge, constantly-growing market.

To your success, Bryan