All too often I encounter Online Sales Programs that aren’t running on all cylinders. When I talk with builders about the possibility of a 20% conversion rate from leads to appointments, many people will say, “How is that possible? We have an Online Sales Counselor and we just can’t seem to get there.”

This is when you need to look intently at your process and perform a checkup on your program. Here are some of the most common reasons we see an Online Sales Program under performing:

Wrong Person – This position requires someone with the right drive, ambition and organizational skills. They don’t have to be a computer geek, but they do need to understand computers and programs. They also have to be motivated to pick up the phone and dial for dollars, plus be a wiz on email.

No or Low Support From Leadership – Does the manager even know what the OSC does? What about the owner? Sometimes this position ends up as the redheaded stepchild. Not quite sales, not quite marketing. Make sure your online sales counselor is deeply integrated into the sales team and recognized for sales that come from appointments.

Not Enough Leads – You can’t just drop in a person and expect your leads to magically increase. You have to generate leads from every source possible; SEO, SEM, PPC, third party listing services and more. Spend some money to drive traffic and watch your appointments go up (want a quick start, click here)

Holes in the Lead Funnel – Do the numbers on your website still ring the onsite sales agent’s phone? If so you are missing opportunities. In most phone shops, we see onsite sales agents answering about half of the calls! Don’t let the best leads go unmanaged. All new leads and first contact, both by phone and email, should go directly to the OSC. I have some clients who even have the numbers on their signs go to the OSC team.

No Defined Process – It takes a consistent and persistent process. Online prospects require a unique process with the sole goal of setting an appointment. Make sure you have that process defined and everyone understands why this process is important.  The last thing you need is confusion on the part of the site agents on why it’s important to treat online sales leads like VIP visitors.

CRM is Non Existent – What, you are using some Excel spreadsheet you created and Outlook reminders to manage your leads? The right CRM can save you literally 1,000’s of hours and allow you to manage your leads more effectively.  Having no CRM, or an outdated inefficient CRM, can cost you a lot of sales. Prospecting is tough – generating appointments is no easy task. Don’t send your OSC to a gunfight with a squirt gun.

Rewarded for the Wrong Activities – It’s not about tasks – it’s about appointments and sales. Make sure the bonus structure covers the right activities. This position is not a butterflies and rainbows customer service role. Your OSC needs to have the drive to create that appointment and ultimately the sale. They are not just there to make friends on the phone. A proper bonus structure can increase your appointments overnight!

Handoff Process Falls Flat – Are you loosing momentum after you set the appointment? Does the sales executive even contact the prospect before they visit? In our shops, the answer is usually, “No.”  Make sure that onsite sales executive is both calling and emailing with an introduction and an appointment reminder. You should see at least an 80% appointment kept ratio if the handoff process is done correctly.

A Divided Mind – Is your OSC the warranty person too? Huge fail. We might as well just have them be the assistant to the manager too. Not gonna’ work people. Trying to lump too many “other” tasks on their plate will remove their focus from the task at hand. Sales.

Telephobia – Call reluctance is epidemic. Yes, we call this position the ONLINE Sales Counselor, but most appointments are set over the phone. Make sure they know how to dial for dollars. The more people they connect with the better chance they have for setting appointments. (In many cases, it takes 20 outbound calls to set 1 appointment)

BONUS REASON: Onsite Sales is ”Not so Hot” – Finally, it doesn’t matter how good your OSC program is, or how many appointments you set – if you have a lousy sales team, the closings won’t happen.

Some of these are a quick fix, but most require time and attention to get your OSC Program to the level that creates additional sales. It’s easy to cherry pick the best leads and easiest customers. It is a true art to get that “on the fence buyer” to take the next step. I encourage you to print out this checklist and review it with your team.  Remember, 50% of your leads are going to buy from someone at some time.  Do everything you can to increase your chances of that “someone” be

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