In times past, customers walked into store fronts and were greeted by a friendly face of a happy sale clerk. This sales clerk set the tone for the sale, explained product details, and created a good rapport with the customer. They answered questions, overcame objections, and highlighted any special offers.
Now, much sales communication happens on the internet. The initial “hello” is virtual. The explanation of your product or service takes place when visitors come to your website. Even for customers who buy in stores, a recent study showed, 65% of them have already checked out the product they want to buy browsing online. And another study shows over 50% of traffic to major brands comes from mobile devices. Indeed, 2014 was a significant year, since it was the first year that mobile traffic actually out performed PC traffic.
Why It’s Relevant
With so much initial contact happening online, it’s critical to analyze your sales process and make sure your brand message is reflected accurately in your website copy. The same elements of human interaction that happen when you first meet a customer still matter. The challenge is just to communicate them online.
1st Step – Get a Pencil & Document Your Sales Process
If you met a customer today, what would you tell them? Why is your product or service unique? Why should someone buy it with urgency?
Carefully write down why your business is special and why someone should buy your products. Act out meeting a new customer, and write down the phrases (that are probably second nature to you) that you use when you meet someone. You’ve likely developed the words you use and perfected them with time.
2nd Step – Answer Customer Questions
Now think about the frequently asked questions that you hear from customers. Do they ask about sales? Are they interested in your experience or availability or security? List out concerns you’ve heard. Noting all of these thoughts on paper will help you to address them all in your copy.
Having trouble? Talk it out! Answer these objection out loud and you can hear your go-to responses come out of your mouth.
3rd Step – Where Do Customers Come From?
You want to present the information about your company in the best way possible to your audience. To do this, you need to think about how your customers are finding you.
Customers come to my businesses from:
- Organic Web Traffic
- Paid Search Web Traffic
- Walking into My Storefront
- Calling me (recommendations)
- Emailing me
- Responding to Direct Mail
When customers reach you from the channels noted above, what is the best way to describe your services or products to them? Someone responding to an email campaign about a sale may want a special promo. Write down the best way to present yourself to customers coming from each avenue. Remember, your goal is to make customers feel like they’re having a human interaction and give them what they’re after.
4th Step – Document Your Sales Process Steps
Write down the steps the customer goes through in each of the scenarios above. Your sales process might be custom tailored to each of the above channels, and that’s okay.
Customer Profile: “Responds to Email Newsletter”
- Greet customer with a friendly “hello” initially. (This can be on the web page they land on.)
- Assure them you can meet their needs. (Show the products featured in the newsletter.)
- Mention the specials from the newsletter. (40% sale is on this weekend!)
- Remind them why your products are valuable. (Testimonial link, or reviews work well.)
- Create some sense of urgency. (“Sale ends Monday.”)
- Check out customer.
- Recommend other items while checking out customer.
- Thank customer for coming.
This whole customer sales process above can be applied to a website. Your web copy can closely imitate the initial friendly greeting and warm smile.
- Copy should convey the same tone you’d use with customers.
- Answer frequently asked questions.
- Feature promotions clearly.
- Highlight reviews & testimonials.
- Offer live chat or other guidance.
- During checkout, recommend similar items purchased with what they need.
- After purchase, send a friendly receipt with warm thanks.
You can repeat this for each of the above scenarios. Imagine you are a customer, and try to communicate your human sales process in your online process.
5th Step – Foresee Obstacles
When you’re making a sale, there are inevitable roadblocks that come up.
Take a moment to write down the most frequently heard “NO” reasons. Now think about the answers you give to help your customers decide to purchase your product after they voice a roadblock.
Roadblock: “The item is too expensive.”
Response: “But it’s 30% off until Friday, and it comes with a guarantee if you want to return it.”
Roadblock: “It only comes in a package of 10, but I really only wanted 5.”
Response: “The price per item is significantly lower, and you’ll buy them less frequently.”
After you finish writing your sales copy, as yourself if you think your customers would say “yes” at this point. If you feel they need more convincing, think of additional ways to overcome roadblocks in your copy.
6th Step – Create Targeted Landing Pages
If you have customers coming from several different online channels, it makes a lot of sense to have copy custom tailored for them. To make sure your copy is a perfect fit, consider making landing pages. These pages are gentle hand-holding guides. They make sure your visitors get instant validation and see what they’re searching for.
If your customer is coming to your site from a direct mail item about a product, send them to a landing page featuring that product front and center. By custom tailoring a landing page for portions of your audience, you increase the probability that your content will be relevant. Hubspot is a favorite landing page app with our team. Unbounce also serves us well. They help you build mobile responsive web landing pages in days instead of months.
7th Step – Make It Shorter
Review your copy and cut the fat. I am a 100% believer that shorter is always better. In the words of Mark Twain: “Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences.”
– Write in the active voice
– Cut any extra words (really, very, other modifiers)
– Change present progressive to simple verb tense
visitors are now coming from / visitors come from
– Replace long words with short ones, for example:
utilize / use
permit / let
provide / give
Treat your website like an actual human salesperson, and think of your site as a true reflection of your brand. You’ll be more compelling to your customers. This will only lead to better conversions and a positive brand image.