The overwhelming majority of our clients are B2B businesses that cannot sell directly online. The sales process just won't allow them to do so, or the dollar amount is not something another business simply swipes their AMEX for.
What is a business like this to do then? Should they abandon their website? Should they keep their site as a brochureware site?
NO WAY JOSE!
Before You Jump Into Starting A Sale Online
First, the importance of aligning your website and Inbound Marketing efforts with your business goals and objectives cannot be overstated. If you aren't consciously thinking, how can this help me achieve my goals, you aren't approaching your website and Inbound Marketing correctly.
B2B businesses and organizations that can't sell direct online, certainly have similar sales goals to a business that can easily sell direct online, so their websites should support those goals by starting a sale online.
The whole concept of Inbound Marketing is geared around starting a sale online. By fully understanding your best buyers (buyer personas), and the process they go through when researching and making a buying decision, also known as the buyer's journey, you can make a connection early on that gets nurtured into a sale.
Some Options For Starting A Sale Online
As stated above, Inbound Marketing is all about turning website visitors into customers, regardless of the type of business you have. Here're some options for starting a sale online:
Your buyer personas research their problems online before making a short list of possible solutions. Why? Because that's what everyone does. Your content marketing should be reaching them in the awareness stage of the buyer's journey when they are researching issues they are having and looking for a name for the problem.
By being there and providing education about their need, you are opening them up for further discussion or at least to be converted into a lead with higher-value, gated content.
You can generate a lead through content by using relevant calls to action that direct a visitor to related, high value content that they can access in exchange for an email address. Boom! You just converted them into a lead. Yes, they are a soft lead, but you can now continue to send them content and offers that are valuable to them, based on their initial interest. You can even automate this step!
Whatever your internal workflows happen to be for new leads, you need to make sure that this lead is tied to the website so you can measure your efforts of starting a sale online and closing it offline.
Quote Request Form
Starting a sale online doesn't get any more straight forward than an online quote request form. Regardless of how complex the information you need to start a quote is, you always get the ball rolling online. Buyers tend to like this option because they don't have to pick up the phone and talk to a salesperson that might try to strong arm them.
Something to consider with a quote request form though is keeping it simple with the anticipation of following up by email to get more details. A long, intimidating form will not get filled out at nearly as high of a rate as a simple, "starter" form.
You should also understand that a quote request form is decision stage component in the buyer's journey. You will have much more success if you do a better job of reaching your buyer personas in the awareness and consideration stages.
Real Time Chat
There are a TON of providers of real-time chat components for your website. The biggest challenge initially is that you need someone responsible for manning the chat. Some chat platforms allow you to interact with real time chat via text message or smartphone app. Some integrate with instant messaging applications. You don't need to be tethered to your desk, but you have to be available in a reasonable amount of time. We're talking about the online equivalent of a phone call here.
If your internal processes are mapped out correctly, your chatter will build rapport with your visitors and convert them into a lead.
Starting A Sale Online And Finishing Offline
If you can't sell direct online, you have plenty of options for starting a sale online and closing the deal offline. You just have to perfect your process. We'd be happy to help you get started! Just give us a shout!