Sales is what happens when you meet a need

why dont buy

Drive sales and cut costs with fully automated personal 1:1 dialogue uncovering needs 24/7

You know that making sales every day is fundamental to your business success. We know that without sales you would be nowhere, but the channels and mechanism by which we achieve it are constantly shifting in this digital world.

The latest figures from the ONS show that under 10% of UK sales are made online, which may not sound much, until you consider that it totals over £230bn per annum! Secondly, certain demographics cannot be denied. So called ‘digital natives’ are becoming an increasing proportion of the population and are taking on more buying responsibility in UK companies. As a result, effective online sales is a key factor for business success.

There are really only two factors to worry about in driving online sales:

  • Do you get visitors?
  • Do those visitors buy?

Getting people on your store has been the priority for most companies for the past 10 years. Most digital marketers have refined positions on search optimisation (both paid and organic SEO) and on other traffic generating promotional activities. I leave that part of the customer journey to them, as I firmly believe that the elephant in the room is getting those visitors to buy.

We must therefore understand why they don't, and what to do about it.

Reasons 1, 2 and 3 relate to attracting unqualified visitors. If your digital marketing (SEO) is attracting visitors for things you don’t sell, perhaps you should consider tuning the keyword, core messaging and content elements which are causing this misunderstanding. If you receive surfers or researchers that are not ready to buy yet, it is often a case of increasing current demand through time limited offers or implementing follow up campaigns, email or pay per click (PPC) being popular.. However, these are marketing challenges outside the scope of this whitepaper.

Instead, let us focus on the central issue: you have visitors that want what you sell, but visitors are not buying it from you. Two issues with a single common cause – your website is not putting a solution in front of the customer with a compelling value proposition. We need to ask why? First of all we'll talk strategy, then we'll talk execution.

Most websites adopt a content based approach to putting across benefit to the customer. The reasons behind this are straight forward. Firstly, it is at least in concept, simple and familiar. Lay out a catalogue with some explanations. Secondly, content works well for search engines. In fact if your visitor attraction strategy is predominantly 'organic' SEO then likely you have excellent voluminous content.

Content based strategies work well for persistent self-servers - basically those that want to be left in peace. They are attractive to the curious and the enthusiastic amateur because they both support and require the buyer to develop their own product knowledge. They are appropriate for simple, single stage purchases, or where personal preference has a significant role to play in the buying decision.

However, content based approaches have a bunch of issues and these are most prevalent when selling complex products through a multistep process, or where the price of an incorrect choice can be significant to either or both parties.

Let me offer you a scenario from days past: a salesman comes to your office for a face to face meeting with you (God forbid!). He is carrying a large briefcase in which he has a selection of brochures and leaflets. At the beginning of the meeting he puts the leaflets on the table and gestures to you to take one that interests you and then waits whilst you read it. This is akin to a content based strategy, and on the table in front of you is the homepage navigation and website content. It's easy to see why this is not a great method of making sales.

Next he offers you a pad and pencil on which there is a heading which reads “What are you looking for?” For the sake of brevity you scribble a few words that you clearly believe describe your requirements. In today's digital world, the pad would probably be carrying Google’s logo! At this point, a new brochure is presented in front of you opened at a specific page, and again you are invited to read. In fact, this is how most online buying journeys begin – by using search to land on a deep link content page, often that of a specific product, bypassing all of the pre-amble content and introductions about the company.

If you visualise your emotions at this point, it is clear why topics such as customer journeys, engagement, and even omni-channel are so heavily discussed.

The point is that content based sales approaches are fundamentally weak. They rely upon the visitor having a desire to increase expertise, and take the time to make an intellectual connection between the content and the actual problem that is driving the purchase. When a multi-step or complex purchase is needed, those connections are likely to never be made quick enough or break down completely.

There are some interesting observable patterns in visitor traffic. Many visitors view some pages and then attempt a new search landing either on your site or rapidly move to a competitor. The visitor has left without buying because: they failed to find what they think they needed, or they have an objection such as satisfying themselves that the item meet the requirement, or is the right price.

For a different strategy you need to consider dialogue.

I will extend my earlier analogy of a visiting salesperson. A skilled salesperson arrives equipped with some targeted questions and honed listening antenna. Your responses help you and salesperson identify your real problem from which possible solutions can be derived plus, perhaps aided by some more questions, the value to you and your business of successful adoption of the solution. The requirement is summarised along with the value to be created. The solution is clearly positioned against the need. The price against the value created. The chances of a successful sale at the quoted price are significantly increased.

Dialogue is not an alternative strategy to content, it is complementary. Persistent self-servers, knowledge thirsty buyers and those that know what they want, appreciate content based approaches. The supermarket and mail order industries (of which online catalogues are an evolution, not a revolution) prove this amongst familiar repetitive purchases of commodity items.

But there remains a significant minority of purchases where knowledge, experience and the reassurance of an expert help immensely in reaching a sale. These are often the most valuable sales to make both in terms of reputation, ongoing customer loyalty and ultimately your financial health.

So let’s talk about improving your visitors that don’t buy numbers by executing a dialogue based strategy to complement an existing content based site.

For the low tech and patient buyer, there is always the phone. In addition, over the past 10 years or so, we have seen live chat grow in popularity. Live chat is used successfully in 1 in 5 online stores because it enables dialogue alongside browsing, although users demonstrate a degree of impatience, accepting on average only an 8 second delay before response or abandoning the chat. In part, this is a result of mixed experiences and for younger generations - expectation of immediate gratification.

Both phone and live chat have to be ‘manned’ by humans - they require people to provide dialogue.. Highly resourced with well-trained agents, live chat has been shown to significantly increase overall sales with conversion rates increasing by factors of 5 or more. However, this is not the norm. In practice, agents are not sales trained and do little more than respond to questions with canned answers. Failure to successfully uncover needs and connect to solutions of demonstrable value to the customer obviates the benefit of a dialogue based approach.

To address this situation has developed its Digital Salesperson solution, software that conducts the dialogue with the customer to uncover needs and recommend products and solutions. It is deployed as an extra layer on the online store with no modification to the existing platform.

AMO is trained using the client’s best sales questioning practice, reducing enquiry phrases to 3 question answer volleys before demonstrating to the customer the progression towards recommending the solution. This avoids the experience of ‘too many questions, did not complete’ that is so common on other systems.

In addition, the latest version of AMO has been engineered around questions with prompt based suggestions. After a flurry of experimentation with natural language processing, the current state of the art has moved towards the precision, convenience and ease of prompts used to collect the users response.

Confidence that the solution will meet the need is built up both through the logic of the questioning, but also accessing existing content to highlight details of products as needed, specifically show and tell.

Underpinning AMO’s process based questioning is a sophisticated model to establish viable solutions from existing product features and generate further qualifiers in an artificial intelligent manner.

The result is a natural, fast, mobile friendly dialogue to identify needs quickly and probe further to qualify the correct solutions. The scalable and available nature of the software means that 24/7 coverage utilising best sales practice can be consistently delivered, progressing the digitisation of the enterprise in forward thinking ecommerce vendors.

We offer sales directors and online business managers a pre-sales/customer service function using a sales based approach. It can be quickly taught and refined to always reflect best practice. This ensures you stay in control of the dialogue and sales opportunities are maximised.

We offer finance directors and contact centre managers automation to free up resources or cut costs.

We offer chief executives 24/7 scalable resources and fast launch of products to support rapid major growth.

For more information, contact us through the AMO's own Digital Salesperson at