Sunday, March 7, 2010

Does Your Sales Team Know How to Use Your Website?

Let’s see a show of hands for how many companies have trained their sales representatives how to use their own companies’ website recently. C’mon, keep them up. Ok, there are a few but not many. Marketers are focused on developing, testing and tweaking their online presence and performance to satisfy their customers and attract prospective customers. There is no argument there but there might be a missed opportunity.

Your sales force is dealing with customer issues every day in the field and on the phone, answering questions about purchased products and potential product solutions. If your site is your digital face to customers, then the sales force is your eyes and ears and mouths. They need to work together or you run the risk of reproducing a badly dubbed Godzilla movie where the mouth doesn’t match the words.

Sales representatives are valuable and expensive interpreters of customer needs and translators of company offerings. You want them utilizing any tool at their disposal to help make your customers successful and close sales. So why don’t they know how to easily find a product on your website? Do they know how to download a product manual? Can they get a customer to an ordering page?

In sales management, I witnessed the sales force struggling with each of these issues, while in front of the customer. As you can imagine, it does not enhance their competence or your company’s reputation in the customer’s eyes. Stumbling through page clicks with the customer watching over their shoulder can be frustrating and produce comments like, "Why did they change this. Now its confusing?", "I don’t know why they have it this way," or "It's so hard to find things on this site." Ouch.

Instead imagine responses being something like, "Here, let me show you how to find that product on our site, its super easy" or "You will love this new tool we just added that lets you do xxxx." When you solve one researcher’s issue, there is a good chance you have gained an advocate for your site in that lab.

More time for training usually means less field time so its critical to make sure it’s worth it. Can you speed up the sales cycle by helping researchers find your products faster, easily understand how they can solve their problem and how to order them? When your sales team knows how to appropriately utilize the web presence to help them build relationships and close sales, that is a payoff.

Here are some basic tasks your sales team should know.

How To:

  • Search for a product via partial product name, full name, and catalog number
  • Search for a list of products related to an area of research (PCR polymerase, RNAi)
  • Find and download a specific product manual.
  • Find a product and order it. Set up a test account and have them go through the process.
  • Use the site’s scientific resources and tools and they can help research customers.
  • Contact a live resource if they cant answer a customer question.

There are many ways to educate your sales force, whether face-to-face or digitally. The key is to create a way for them to practice these tasks and to monitor their performance. They not only will be more comfortable but you might be able to identify some site navigation issues, without paying for an expensive consultant.

Ideally, your site would be so intuitive that customers and sales force both would be able to find what they needed fast and easy. In the meantime, help your sales force figure out how to leverage your website. Your customers will thank you.

Mark Walker

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