Three obstacles to building a 24/7 sales resource

Many b-b and high-end consumer marketers have very expensive sales teams or channel partners that they try to make productive by generating qualified leads. In this zeal, many overlook the possibility of building a sales resource that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which happens to be aligned with when their prospects are engaged in the consideration process. This sales resource I allude to is a robust, customer-centric website. Yet many marketers have failed to grasp this possibility. I believe there are three obstacles that inhibit building and leveraging a good website to accelerate sales:

1. Politics: A company’s website can be a political hot potato. It represents every product. It affects sales activity. It is connected to the IT system. It makes legal representations. It provides information to investors and financial markets. It feeds the HR recruiting engine. And it reflects on the company’s brand and related brands. It touches every part of the company. A great website needs a champion who can manage these dynamics effectively.

2. Fear: I have heard people in more than one company express the fear that if a website puts too much information online, it might reduce the need for prospects to call and talk to a sales person. Or it might provide too much information to competitors. Yet if a company understands what information a potential customer needs, it can dramatically increase the number of qualified leads (and reduce the number of disqualified leads that the sales team hates anyway). That’s not necessarily good for total lead stats, but it is very good for business.

3. Myopia: Many companies have had defined selling systems for years. When they need more results, they had a portfolio of tactics they turned to: more feet on the street, rebates, sales incentives, spiffs, training, contests…Leveraging an effective website was not one of them. Since a Web-based sales acceleration system doesn’t materialize overnight, it takes a leader with foresight to champion such an investment. One of nFusion’s clients, Ed Horne, CEO of Wilshire Homes, is such a leader. He took the leap of faith a couple of years ago and has benefited by being significantly ahead of his competitors right now when he needs it most.

I’m interested to hear other reasons companies are slow to embrace the Web as an effective sales resource.