Double your Sales by Doubling your Prospects

by John Almberg, Identry LLC, July 2006

Welcome back. We've been talking about an online marketing system called “Selling by the Numbers”. If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can catch up at www.identry.com/newsletters.html, but the key idea is V=>P=>C=>S, or Visitors give you Prospects give you Customers give you Sales.

This month, we're going to focus on how to convert your Web site visitors into prospects. What's a prospect? A prospect is a new visitor to your Web site who contacts you because he thinks you might be able to help him, but isn't ready to buy, yet.

“But why bother with people who aren't ready to buy?” asked one of my clients, Jill.

Here's one good reason: about half of your potential customers will buy because you have what they want and they are ready to buy. All you have to do is take their order. This is all most Web sites do.

The other half want to buy, but they need to be persuaded or induced or just plain pushed. In other words, they need to be sold. It's this last group that we call 'Prospects'. By identifying and converting these potential customers, you can double the number of customers your Web site generates.

“OK, that sound great!” said Jill. “But if visitors don't order something from my Web site, how will I even know who they are?”

That's the focus of this article: how you can turn anonymous visitors into known prospects, so you can start selling to them.

Step 1: Count your current prospects

The first step is to measure how many prospects your Web site currently generates each month. Measuring prospects is easy because they contact you. You just have to count them.

If your only prospect-generating tools are a 'Contact Us' form and 'Newsletter' sign up form, you can probably count your monthly prospects on one hand. That's normal, but you can do better.

Whether your are generating 100 prospects each month, or 3, it's important to know this number before you start. You need this baseline number so you can measure the results of your improvements. Without measurements, you won't know what's working, and what's not. Don't skip this step!

Step 2: Ask the magic question

When a new, potential customer walks into your store or stops by your booth, what do you do? If you're like most dealers, you probably say something like “May I help you?” This simple question gives you the chance to introduce yourself, learn the collector's name, and find out what he's looking for.

It's the same on your Web site. If it focuses on taking orders, and ignores visitors who need more help or information, you'll lose half of your potential customers. And that's too bad, because all you have to do is ask the right “May I help you?” questions.

What's a “May I help you?” question? It's a question that interested visitors instantly respond to. For example, it could be an offer of valuable information. By 'valuable', I mean valuable to your target customer. Of course, finding the right “May I help you?” questions is the trick. There's no simple formula, but it helps to ask yourself “What's in it for them?”

For example, Jill knows that some of her customers are interested in tracking the value of their collections. So she lets visitors subscribe, using a simple form, to her “Buy Lists” -- a spreadsheet that shows exactly how much she is willing to pay for stamps. Jill updates her Buy List once a month and sends it to her subscribers by email, using an automated system. The service is popular, even with new visitors, so she signs up lots of prospects.

“But there are lots of May I help you? questions,” Jill complained. “How can I know, in advance, which questions will generate prospects, and which won't?

Step 3: Keep measuring

The answer is, you can't. What you have to do is try new questions, and then measure the results. If you measure your results, you'll know which questions work and which don't. Over time, you'll find the questions that generate the prospects you need to grow your business.

And that's the secret: don't let potential customers wander in and out of your online store without asking the magic question “May I help you?”, in as many ways as possible.

Now, once you've generated all those new prospects, what do you do with them? That's what we'll look at next month: how to turn prospects into customers. Meanwhile, send your questions to john@identry.com, or visit us at www.identry.com. And have a great month SELLING ON THE WEB!