What Prospects Who Aren’t Ready to Get Started Need to Get Started
Tom Stimson
March 17, 2023
A man smiles while using his laptop in front of large windows as he visits a website that meets his needs.

Have you ever needed to buy an unfamiliar thing, and you didn’t know how to get it?

Let’s say you Google a store, show up, and walk in. Now what? Should you browse a little? Talk to a salesperson? Approach the register? What exactly do you ask?

You think you know what the business does, and you think they have something that can help you. But you don’t even know how to start the conversation.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling.

What if that’s happening on your website right now? Does every potential customer come to your website well-versed in what they need and how to ask for it? Or are they confused — about what you do, how you do it, IF you can meet their unique need, and (if you can) what next steps they need to take?

The truth is, for someone who’s never bought what you’re selling, it’s not self-evident how to do business with you.

Often, there are huge chasms between our initial questions to customers and the answers they’re able to provide. “What do you need?” we ask. Their response? “I don’t know. That’s why I’m calling you.”

How can you equip your sales team to talk to a new buyer — new to you or to the industry — at their stage of awareness, speaking to them at their level of understanding, sophistication, and experience?

You have to meet the customer where they are. And since they’re all in different places, you need a way to identify where they are before you talk to them.

Here’s what I suggest — a new tactic I believe will be much more helpful than the industry standard we all follow now.

Quote Card: ISL - 3/20/23

Why ‘Get Started’ Doesn’t Cut It

If you’ve read my blog before, you already know you shouldn’t have a SUBMIT RFP button on your website.

However, most businesses have a GET STARTED button available for website visitors. Why? Because GET STARTED targets customers who are ready to buy. And that’s important.

Then for the other 99% of website visitors — the ones who haven’t yet reached the buying stage — we very often have the LEARN MORE button.

The LEARN MORE button is a great way to give visitors a next step even if they aren’t ready to buy from you. But that’s only if you actually give them new, helpful information on the page you send them to. If your button promises visitors they’ll learn more by clicking through, then the page better deliver on that promise, or you’ll end up annoying — and probably losing — a buyer.

Farther down the page, the only CTA left in our bag of tricks is usually GET STARTED. But even after learning more about you and your services, many visitors still won’t be ready to buy. If the only next step they see is GET STARTED, they’re going to leave without taking any action.

So what should you do? Cross your fingers and hope they’ll return when they’re ready? Or can you provide an alternative?

I propose you give visitors an alternative.

Infographic: ISL - 3/20/23

Tailor the LEARN MORE Experience

First, let’s acknowledge that multiple types of buyers visit your website, all with a different basic understanding of where they are and what to ask for next.

If you serve three verticals — end clients, event planners, productions agencies — and each contains both new and experienced buyers, then you have at least six groups of people visiting your website. Even with various LEARN MORE buttons all over your site, if the only CTA on every LEARN MORE page is GET STARTED, you’re going to lose visitors from most of those groups.

Instead, you need to offer a new CTA that acknowledges, “Okay, maybe you’re not ready to get started, but here’s what you can do next.” Then give them prompts that let them filter themselves into appropriate next steps according to where they are in the buying process.

For example, an opt-in form on your LEARN MORE pages can collect contact information from visitors while allowing them to respond to a prompt like “Which best describes you” related to why they’re not ready to get started yet.

Options for your form fill might look something like this:

  • “We’re in early planning stages, but not sure what we need.”
  • “We know what we want, but don’t know how to get it done.”
  • “We have a challenge, but don’t know what to ask for.”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know, and we need someone to take us through the process to keep us from hurting ourselves.”
  • “We know what we’re doing, and we’re just looking for the right partner.”
  • “OTHER — you tell us.”

With this new kind of CTA, you ensure you stay in touch with visitors and get the right information to the right groups. It also provides your sales team with valuable contact info and insight into what’s important to each buyer as they move toward their next step.

Once you know your visitors’ mindsets, you can send them automated selections of pre-chosen resources based on their responses. Variations in the prompts and the resources will, of course, depend on your business and what you offer, but this tactic will keep buyers connected to you and moving forward.

For buyers early in the planning process, you could send info about your process and how you sit down and do advance planning with clients. Others may want to see clear processes and decision points, so you send information about structure and solutions.

Maybe a visitor wants to know more about what you do and what it’s like to work with you, so you send case studies illustrating the seriousness and effectiveness of your organization.

Be creative. Leverage the conversations you’re already having with prospects and clients to help you connect with the 99% of website visitors who aren’t quite ready to get started — and help them take the next step toward buying.


If your current GET STARTED buttons only work for 1% of your visitors, and adding an “I’m not quite ready to start” form fill reaches another 10%, that’s a 1,000% increase in results.

No, you’re never going to capture all website visitors. But you can still make finding a path forward easier for people who want to figure out how to do business with you. You just have to let them show you where they are, and meet them there.

About Tom Stimson
Tom Stimson MBA, CTS is an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes.
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