One word: Online.
By Carole Mahoney
The undeniable truth is that the internet has changed the way people buy, and therefore, how you need to sell.
Buyers don’t need to type it into Google anymore; they can just ask their phone or home device such as Alexa or Siri any question they can think of regarding their water well or groundwater issue.
And the ones to answer their questions first are the ones they are more likely to turn to in order to solve their problems.
For example, my own well pump burned out a few years ago. I didn’t know that at the time; I only knew we had no water pressure. Was it a line somewhere into the house? Was it the valves inside? Oh jeez, what if the well had gone dry? What would that cost me?
I turned to Google to search for answers—and found them—but from a well drilling company eight states away. When I narrowed my search down to local resources, the information available was sparse and inaccurate. In fact, I wasn’t sure these companies still existed or were reputable.
If you don’t have a website, Facebook page, or at the very least a Google listing, you don’t exist in the eyes of your potential customers.
Gartner’s Future of Sales research predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B (business-to-business) sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. This is because 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience—a preference that climbs to 44% for millennials, meaning this is a trend on the rise.
Whether you sell to businesses or homeowners, before they ever call or email you, your next customer has done their research and completed the majority of their decision-making process before you even introduce yourself. I call this trend the “Amazon Effect.”
Because of this fact, how you show up online and what your potential customers learn about you is priority number one.
So how should you show up online for your target customer?
Start with your website and be sure your contact and location information are up to date. Include reviews and testimonials from customers, a page for the services offered and price ranges, and a blog with educational information that is helpful to potential customers.
Many people resist the idea of a blog on their website because of the time it takes to create content every week. But I am willing to bet there are questions you deal with on a regular basis for customers. What would happen to your time if you didn’t have to repeat yourself so often because the answer was available online?
Also, a blog does not have to be written. Grab your smartphone and record a two to three-minute video on a topic, post it to YouTube, and then embed it on your blog.
Stumped about what to write or do a video on?
Think about how problems show up for customers, what they call them, the questions they ask, and use those answers to create the content that will help educate them so that you become a trusted resource.
Record the ins and outs of a common issue such as when a pump needs replaced. Show what to look for, share tips on how to choose a pump, or what questions water system owners should be asking and why they are important.
In addition to educational content, create resources for well owners such as calculators to help them understand what they need or the scope of their issue. Or post comparison guides for different solution types to help people understand all their options. Checklists for different types of projects can set the right expectations and timelines for work that needs completed.
The Human Part
Now, what about the other 20% of their buying process? The Gartner research suggests that those who prefer to buy without a salesperson also have a higher rate of buyer remorse.
Which means that digital alone is not enough. Think about the last time you needed to buy something online and get support. When the digital chats and articles aren’t enough, people need a human to talk to.
And is there nothing more frustrating than going through all that research online—only to have to do it all over again with a person?
Train your staff to meet your buyers where they are in their process. Make sure they have the information they need to know what buyers have already read, answered, or looked at. Teach them how to ask questions to clarify the issues, impacts, and desired results.
The way we buy everything today has changed because of technology, which means the way we attract new customers and sell to them must also change.
Start small by making sure your website and Google listings are up to date. Start a YouTube account and post how-to videos there from your day-to-day. These small steps and changes will compound like interest in the bank.
Carole Mahoney, as the founder of Unbound Growth, has coached Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial MBA students on sales and been featured as a top sales coach by Ambition and Sales Hacker. You can contact her directly at www.unboundgrowth.com.