I was shocked at how such a simple oversight could be sabotaging my client's sales efforts. Not only was the client losing sales, it was actually paying hundreds of dollars to alienate each hot prospect.

The CEO of an enterprise software company asked me to work directly with the VP of marketing and take over it Google AdWords campaign management. The company was routinely paying $35 to $65 per click in its highly competitive niche.

My objective was to optimize the campaign so as to get more sales opportunities for each dollar spent.

To help quantify the value of the AdWords investment and identify measurable results, I set up tools like traceable inquiry forms, Google Analytics, measurable conversion goals, and a special toll-free number that allows the company to actually listen back to the inbound calls initiated by Web site visitors.

Now It Gets Ugly

After I set up the toll-free number, my routine is to test it a couple of times to make sure it works and is forwarding the call to the right number at the company. This also gives me the opportunity to "mystery shop" the company's phone call answering and routing process, as though I am a prospect who just found the company's website and is calling the phone number on the screen in front of them.

When I made my call to the company's toll-free number, here's what I was treated to: "This call may be monitored for quality control and customer service... ring... ring... ring... ring... thank you for calling [company name] please wait while we transfer your call to the next available representative... ring... ring..."

Half laughing and half grimacing, I hit "0" to try to get a human on the phone, only to hear "the option you have selected is invalid, please select again..."

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Todd Miechiels is a B2B Internet marketing consultant who specializes in search engine marketing and Web site visitor conversion. Reach him via www.miechiels.com.