“Wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one, Oh my me my.” – Toby Keith
A custom sporting goods retailer did more than 80% of their business through the direct/online channel. Trade distribution presented challenges both logistically and from sales partner training perspective because the product had a unique value proposition – one that was heavily dependent on communicating data and highly consultative engagements. Additionally, the trade channel eroded margin and price controls enough that our customer elected to double down on the thing that they were best at. The direct-to-consumer play.
We helped our customer to acquire all of the fundamental digital tools and manpower. Social and PPC. SEO and email marketing. CRM and an effective eCommerce suite. A call center of highly effective service/sales consultants available by inbound phone.
We worked hard to help our client pin down a customer acquisition cost structure, and they invested heavily in eCommerce and a CRM package, working hard to push conversion and engagement rates higher. We tweaked UI, and tested UX throughout the funnel until we failed to see meaningful uptick in subsequent iterations. From what we could tell, the product was excellent, the digital journey was near optimal, and the market was willing. But we hit a wall.
To push past that wall, we retreated to our most fundamental analysis – we audited the “conversation.” Breaking it down into its fundamental pieces:
- We introduced ourselves briefly (PPC, Social, Email Marketing), and invited our prospects into a deeper conversation.
- We showed them what we had to offer (content), and made an argument as to why what we had to offer was right for them.
- We invited our prospect to either buy (ecommerce), or call us for a consultative conversation (call center).
What was missing? Almost any trained sales person could have told you straight away: we hadn’t qualified our prospect.
We didn’t know anything about our customer, and our first opportunity to get to know them required a very big step on their part – pick up the phone and call us. The question became “How could we qualify our prospects up front, and in a way that they would welcome?”
According to Harvard scientists Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell, “Talking about ourselves — whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter — triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.”
Enter the online fitting tool.
We retooled our entire funnel and customer experience to start with a simple invitation – “come here to learn more about you (athletically).” We constructed a questionnaire that was supported by a wide ranging competitor product database that blended absolute data with customer feelings and impressions. We invited the customer to tell us both objective and subjective facts about themselves and their sport. At the end of the process, we provided a custom output that blended product recommendations and observations meant to help the prospect improve at their sport, and offered to send it to them by email.
The engagement with the fitting tool was shocking. We received eight times the site traffic we were accustomed to, and a healthy percentage of engagements turned into not just viable leads, but highly stratified and qualified leads. The fundamentals of our sale funnel were permanently altered, and we were forced to throw out every assumption and forecast model we’d constructed to date. Our YOY sales increase was 72%, and through renewed analysis, we were able to further refine both the tool and our engagement with our customers and prospects.