I’m still amazed at how many small business still don’t think of their website as the most powerful sales and marketing tool they have. They see it as a “necessary evil” (yes, I’ve heard business owners say those exact words).
It’s very interesting if you think about it, because EVERYONE (pretty much) uses the Internet all day, every day. Have a question? Google it! Buyer behavior has been undergoing dramatic changes as our world becomes increasingly digitized, but most small business owners continue to sell the same way they always have.
Traditional Marketing and Sales Techniques
Here’s the typical small business sales and marketing plan (based on my anecdotal observations). Is this you?
On the Sales Side
Sales, as usual, is in charge of developing new business opportunities and bringing in new revenue. The main strategies are:
- Gather lists and cold call
- Create territory maps and do regular “drop-ins”
- Go to networking events and try to meet people
This was my strategy too when I was a hunter salesperson for 12 years. Which was 7 years ago by the way! Things have changed a lot since then.
On the Marketing Side
- Brochure-type of website that talks about the company, products, and services. There’s not much investment in evaluating how users are engaging with it or strategies to convert visitors to sales leads.
- Post fluffy stuff on Facebook or other social profiles now and then, but there’s no real strategy to tie it back to business goals or objectives.
- Monthly newsletter that has some self-promotional information about the company and maybe an article or two. It’s often more focused on what the company wants to say vs. what the prospect wants to hear. (Learn more: What Email Marketing is Really About)
- A little paid advertising to try to increase exposure.
- Maybe an outsourced “SEO” person to try to get to the top of the search engines. (Find out what every business owner needs to know about search engine optimization.)
4 Gaps Between Traditional vs. Modern Marketing & Sales
Sales and marketing are getting more complex in the world of technology and big data and it takes special skills and experience to unravel it all - special skills and experience that are often beyond the realm of many small business owners’ knowledge or comfort zone.
Traditional strategies have some things in common with modern sales and marketing techniques, but there are some big gaps.
1. Continuous Website Development
It’s very common for small businesses to have a “set it and forget it” type of website. They do a redesign every few years with minimal thought about it in-between times. However, progressive companies understand that 9 out of 10 times the website is the first experience a prospect will have with them.
Bad first impression = no new customer. If you aren’t constantly evaluating how your website is performing and continually improving it’s usability, you’re inhibiting the number of new potential customers that enter your sales pipeline.
2. Lead Generation
Cold calling, Chamber events, and trade shows are not the only way to drum up new potential customers these days. There are ways you can find out who is checking out your website. After all, if someone is on your site, they’re interested in you for some reason. If you don’t know who’s on your site, you’re ignoring people who are walking up to your doorstep.
3. Prospect Intelligence
We live in a world of Big Data now. That means that your salespeople should be able to gather contextual information about their prospects regarding how they are engaging with you online. What web pages are they reading, what emails do they open, what pages of your proposal did they spend the most time on? Not many small businesses are capitalizing on this available data.
4. Sales Library
Many small business owners still think that a salesperson should be able to sell without any kind of marketing content. But “touching base” or “dropping in” doesn’t work as well as it used to. Prospects are busier now than ever and expect to have quick and easy access to digital information online. If you don’t have a library of articles, information, statistics, comparisons, etc. that align with the sales cycle, you’re leaving the door wide open for your competitors to fill the gap.
Sometimes I feel like the advancement of the digital world throws small business owners for a loop because things are changing so quickly. There are really only 3 things you need to do to continue business growth and advancement:
- Keep an open mind
- Stay in tune with the needs and expectations of your customers
- And don’t be afraid to try new things!