When a buyer goes to your ecommerce or corporate website, ask them to register, and fully explain to them WHY they should register now. Offer them real tangible benefits for registering, like a FREE sample, product, or customized, user-specific information.
Capture only name, business address, phone number, extension, email address, fax number, and VoIP handle or number.
In some cases, you may need to capture industry and purchasing decision authority. But the less you capture initially, the more responses you'll get. If you need more qualified responses than mass responses, capture more information.
Just don't get marketing-research greedy. Keep it to a bare minimum. If they're a hot prospect, most will probably not mind giving you more info on your quick follow-up to their online registration at your site.
Then, within seconds after this registration is submitted, have a salesperson:
* phone him
* fax him
* VoIP him
* send him an email
* mail a personal postal letter.
Thank him, by name, for expressing an interest in your company and products. Ask about his specific problems, needs, questions, complaints, suggestions, or interests. Offer to send him more specific information, price quotes, product comparison charts, competitive comparison charts, how to tips...anything that can move him closer to you as a trusted advisor and friend, and eventually, customer.
You strike while the iron's hot, while they are expressing white hot interest in you as a possible supplier of some product or service.
EDIT UPDATE: Do not hound the prospect, do not use high pressure sales hype on him or her. Tone this down and customize the concept to best suit your audience.
I repeat: if the prospect is HOT, meaning ready to buy now, from somebody, you ought to consider trying to understand the need, the problem, and see if your product can be relevant and economical for them. That's all.
EDIT UPDATE #2: It seems that this "sales tip" would probably be more appropriate for high ticket, complex, or abstract products and services. For "commodity" goods, impulse purchases, low ticket items, and simple products, this seems like "overkill". The debate has been going on both here, at the Evolt! web developer discussion list, and in emails to me. Thanks for all the insights, everyone.
I must also state that I dislike registering at sites where I have to fill out long forms, screen after screen of personal or company information, and they also toss in promos for various newsletters and topic update alerts.
I'm all for user empowerment and I'm against aggressive, intrusive sales hype. My main reason for the instant phone call, as I said, is to pinpoint customer questions, complaints, problems, etc. that the company representative might be able to clarify or solve, plus identify those registered users who are ready to buy now.