Whenever I try to convince myself that I am not a Salesperson, but a company President – I just take a look at my incoming revenue. No Sales = No Revenue. Whatever your feelings are about the sales profession, the fact is we’ve all got to have it. Also, it’s no mistake that the more successful the business, the more people it has selling – at all levels – no matter what their position or job function.
Is an online business any different? There is probably little or no personal, face-to-face selling involved and seldom any telephone contact. Yes, the Internet offers us a different medium, but the basics of selling are the same.
Several things occur in every sale, and like a chain, any links that are missed or weak causes the whole process will break down. These weak links may show themselves in the form of high returns or no repeat sales or visits. Or your customers may fill their shopping carts only to abandon when it’s time to submit the order.
Let’s break down the sales process and identify the links that, when strengthened, can yield more sales and revenue for your site.
Credibility and trust are the desired outcome of this very important step, and the #1 reason sales are lost. If your orders are getting canceled just before completion, provide your prospects with assurance that they will be satisfied and safe doing business with you.
Testimonials from satisfied customers
Endorsements from respected authorities (BBB, Chamber of Commerce)
Money Back Guarantees
Phone Number to reach a live person
Pay for shipping if there is a Return
Qualification / Probing / Questioning
Establishing and determining the needs, issues and problems of your customer is important for you, so that you can recommend the best solution. But what about your customer? Do they know they have a problem? Is the problem big enough or causing enough pain for them to make a change?
In the SPIN selling model, used for years by Xerox, this stage, the P & I of SPIN, represents Problem and Implication. What are the problems that your product or service will solve, and, what are the implications of those problems?
For example, my business offers Electronic Check Processing, both online and over the phone. A client may already take checks on a mail-in basis. They currently delay shipment until the check is received and clears their bank. They know customer satisfaction would be improved significantly if they could reduce the 2-3 week shipment delay, but they can’t afford the financial risk of shipping without payment.
To make matters worse, the facts show that less than half of these customers actually mail the check as promised. The other half made a buying decision and wanted the product, but either forgot to write the check or came to the justification that it was too much trouble to write the check, address an envelope, find a stamp and mail it. Here a sale was made, but became inconvenient for the customer to execute – resulting in lost sales.
This lost opportunity really adds up when you also factor in that 75% of all transactions in the US are made by check. Not to mention the fact that over 70 million American consumers don’t have a major credit card, have reached their credit limits, or prefer not to use credit cards.
Back to the selling process: Each of these issues on its own may not be causing enough “pain” to initiate a change. But each issue stacked on top of the other presents a much bigger, more painful problem. By pointing out the customer’s problems, and all the associated implications of the problem, you help your prospects see the big picture. Help them see the entire problem, and feel all the pain associated with not buying from you. Now. e the features & BENEFITS of your product or service come into play. And yes, BENEFITS are the key. The difference is significant, and remember, it’s the Benefits that people buy.
Features are the properties or characteristics of the product – What it is. Benefits are – What it does. There is an old saying: “Tens of thousands of ¾ inch drills were sold in a year – but no one wanted a ¾ inch drill: Tens of thousands of people wanted a ¾ inch hole.”
If your site is getting a lot of lookers but few takers, you may want to insure that more of your copy is dedicated to how the features of your products benefit your customers and solve their problems. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Objections and Questions
The easiest way to answer an objection is before it is made. Address all the most common issues up front, before they become a reason not to buy. Within a very short time you can compile a list of questions and objections that you regularly address. Why not set those up on your “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Most sites with a FAQ section do a very good job removing obstacles before they become obstacles.
Close – Ask for the Sale
Traditional sales training tells us to close and close often. Whether you ask directly or in a more subtle way, you must ask and make it easy for your customers to buy from you. At each stage of the selection and ordering process, make it easy for them to take the next step. Options and choices help.
Implementation and Follow-up
This is where the sale is made – and more importantly the where the Next sale is made. You must happily deliver on everything that you’ve promised. If you’re really smart you’ll deliver more than you’ve promised. Amazon.com is a great example of delivering more value than is expected. I just got some books last week, and included in my shipment were 10 one-cent stamps. WOW! Everyone has to pay the new $0.34 postage, and everyone probably still has some $0.33 stamps on hand. For a cost of only 10 cents, I’ve thought of Amazon no less than 10 times this week. That’s creative value.
Follow-up. Drop your customer’s an e-mail after they’ve had your product a while. “Are you happy with XYZ?” “Is there anything we missed?” ” How can we serve you better?” And don’t forget:
Can you Refer us to your friends? If you ask, they will.
t about what to do next in the selling process, just look to yourself. We all want the same things from any transaction: value, quality, dependable service and courtesy. Selling over the Internet is no different than any other sale. Just remember – If you’re not taking care of your customers, someone else is.
Les Stuckey is President of Electronic Transactions Inc. ETI provides automated and electronic systems to help businesses get paid more quickly. ETI also offers Bank Drafting services, Electronic Re-presentment of NSF checks, and MasterCard/VISA merchant accounts. Visit ETI now at: www.electronictransactionsinc.com or call 205-985-4504.