A seemingly nice guy called me recently about business. It was unclear from the outset whether he was a potential new customer or a telemarketer. In reality he was neither – but it took me a few minutes to figure this out.
His telephone approach was obviously quite effective as our call lasted almost 5 minutes. What he was selling I wasn’t interested in buying. But, as I mentioned, it took me a while – even with my questions – to sort out what exactly the call was about. (Was this guy a potential customer or was this a cold call from someone trying to sell me something?)
The call started out like it would with any new client calling in, and not the usual way someone looking to get MY business might start out. The caller caught me somewhat off guard by commenting on and asking questions about content/information he’d seen on my website and social profiles.
This included asking about the way my name was pronounced in a 2-minute video he’d viewed (Coburn not Cockburn). The caller had obviously watched the video.
He had also taken the time to check out my social profiles. He’d identified some commonalities in our backgrounds and commented on these, showing clearly that he had done his homework before calling!
Because of this, from the get-go I was wondering “is this someone trying to sell me something or is it a potential client calling about something they need?”
Getting A Foot In The Door
The caller could have been a client who’d done his research before calling. Instead he was someone who didn’t know me but who had taken the time to do his research before making the call. Several minutes into the call it became clear to me that he was looking to sell me something.
Kudos to the guy for managing to get me talking and building enough of a rapport, that I found it difficult to quickly end the call without being rude. He had also peaked my interest by this point, so that discussing his product could have been interesting … BUT …
Backing Up Your Claims
As it was, while we were chatting I did something my caller obviously didn’t factor into the equation. While he had obviously done research on me to prepare to make the call, he hadn’t prepared for me to do the same while we were speaking. It didn’t take long for me to pull up the information I was looking for, with a simple Google search of his name and the name of his business.
In under 30 seconds I had his personal LinkedIn profile, the LinkedIn Page for the business he represented, his Twitter account and his personal website. No business website, although from the conversation the business was made to sound like a global franchise organization with tons of reach.
In under 30 seconds I discovered that his online presence didn’t back up what he was telling me. His unsubstantiated claims were simply bait he hoped would lure me into doing business with him.
Does Your Online Presence Support Your Claims?
Now here’s the thing: not everyone who calls to sell us something is a fraud. And I’m assuming those reading this article are legitimate and offer good quality products and services. But, does your our online presence – website, social networks, online reviews – provide proof to any claims you make in person or through claims made in your advertising?
We may be totally legit. Our products phenomenal. Our services second to none. Our ability to build rapport with customers during a cold call phenomenal! BUT, if someone researches us online, because they are thinking of doing business with us, while we’re on the phone with them or, more likely, before they call or step in the front door of our store, what will they learn?
Will it ‘look’ like our claims are unsubstantiated, that we’re not who we say we are?
Does our website represent our business well? Is the information current or dated? Is it easy to view on a mobile device as well as a desktop, or does it look dated and ignored? Are our social profiles incomplete, lacking information, poorly branded and inactive?
If our website and social media don’t represent our business well, they will impact our online presence and this could be hurting our business.
Today’s Consumers Go Online To Learn More
Today’s consumers are looking to find your business, or find out more about your business, online. With 33+ million Internet users in Canada (population 35+ million) and 279+ million Internet users in the United States (population 322+ million), this isn’t surprising to most of us.
Consumers may have:
- heard about you from someone they know
- seen your name mentioned by someone they know on social media
- viewed one of your ads online or in a print publication
- received one of your flyers in the mail or by hand
- spoken to you by phone
Regardless of how potential customers have heard about you, chances are the next step will be for them to do some research of their own online.
Their research to find out more about you may involve:
- an online search of your name, to find out where you are online (website, social media, online reviews)
- pulling up your website direct, using your website address
- pulling up your social networks direct, using your custom social network addresses
- pulling up review sites, where others have shared their experience with you, and your products and services, online
It’s not surprising that in our digital age consumers go online to find out more about us. It’s much easier for them to get a sense or impression of who we are, and to research us, our products and services, before making a call or visiting a store front location.
Narrowing The Playing Field
Today, your online presence helps consumers separate ‘the wheat from the chaff,’ to develop their list of contenders for their business. What they find online helps them narrow down the playing field of who they may want to deal with.
Thus, if our online presence sucks, regardless of what we say or our advertising may say, we have likely eliminated ourselves from the list of ‘prospects’ that potential customers are considering. If someone has spoken highly of us, a poor online presence MIGHT not hurt us. But if we’re new to a potential customer and only a name someone has dropped into their lap or they’ve only seen one of our ads, then how we appear online can make all the difference between us getting the call or visit, or not.