Books have been written about it and a veritable army of advisors is touting the strategies to lure potential customers to your online storefront. That’s the first part of the equation.
What do you do when it’s time to go offline and make the sale?
First Impressions Count
More than ever shoppers are surfing the web for the products and services they need and often that’s where they will make the purchase. But many businesses need to close the sale in a face-to-face meeting with the prospective buyer.
That was the situation for me this past week when I was looking for a broker for a high-ticket item I wanted to sell. I visited the websites of several companies with sterling reputations, and also got referrals from friends.
I narrowed it down to two companies and made appointments with their brokers. The first company sent two individuals. The duo bragged about their team of seven experts who would assist in the sale.
After the initial pleasantries, one of them asked, “so do you want to sell this?” Duh. Isn’t that why we’re having this meeting? Then I asked what he thought the price range might be. “Well, we’d have to check what comparable pieces have sold for recently.” Hmmm. Isn’t that something they should have done before our meeting?
After a little more chit chat they left with the promise they would get back to me quickly. The next morning I met with the second company’s representative. She sat down and we got right to business. She pulled out a bulging folder with background on her company. It also included images and recent sales prices for comparable pieces.
She advised me about strategies for selling the piece and the demographics of the potential market. She was able to answer all my questions.
After she left, I compared their presentations and it was an easy decision to make about whom I would l choose to represent me.
Lack of Follow Through
Three days went by and at 11:35 pm on the third day, I received an email from the first company’s broker who told me, “I’ve been really slammed with work with this week. I’ll get back to you tomorrow with comparably priced pieces and a projected price range for yours.”
What happened to that team of seven experts who could provide all that sterling service? I politely responded that I would be working with the other broker.
This is a valuable lesson learned. We can’t rely on our online presence to make the sale for us. You can have the best-looking website in the world and even superior products. But what is your plan for following up when you get a warm lead?
What is the prospect expecting? If you’re not sure, ask. Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked and the information needed to answer those questions.
Don’t be seduced by your website traffic and activity on social media sites. Not every product or service sells itself. You’ve still got to the old-fashioned work of anticipating a customer’s needs and responding on a timely basis. Otherwise, why are you wasting your time online?