When I was considering career options, my father impressed on me the importance of sales training. One of the things he said, which i found to be true; “you will always be able to use sales training.”
Regardless of the industry, market or profession, what I learned in my earliest sales training has been helpful and true – no matter what. The main reason is that sales is based on understanding people. Even if the medium changes, TV, radio, print, internet – people are the same and they are persuaded to take action in basically the same ways. Understand people, and you will understand sales.
The fun part of this story is as I developed my online business, I found that many design techniques mimic that old sales wisdom that I learned years ago. In fact, many of the sales principles I learned go back decades, if not centuries. People respond to the same principles. Here are 5 powerful sales concepts that when applied online, work wonders:
1. Know your customer.
This is critical, because to know your customer you have to listen to them, know what they want. You can’t do that if you are too busy talking. You could be selling the wrong thing the wrong way and to the wrong person! Listen first, do your research; learn the words, needs and concerns of your customer. Only then will you be prepared to present relevant and persuasive information.
I liken this to doing the market research and keyword research for your online marketing. By knowing the language and words that people use, you can be found easier, present better and make that connection with the customer.
2. Build Rapport.
Building rapport is making a connection to your prospect. By finding something in common, you start that connection. People are comfortable with those that share common values, ideas and interests. However, the key as the sales person is to find something you have in common with your prospect – and not the other way around. Make your common connection on their terms, with their interests, not yours. Otherwise you come across as a self-absorbed, pushy salesperson.
Online, your marketing presentation should be about the customer and how you can make their life better – not yours. Too many companies are concerned with education people about them – and all of the content is about them. These are the businesses that use Facebook as a PR device and post news releases, comments and their Twitter feed. Facebook is a conversation medium that enables connections. Using it as a platform to make announcements kills any conversation.
3. Create the Need
People need to buy things. However, it is usually an emotional decision to purchase a specific brand, style or type of product or service. Even when purchasing something as simple as food, or as complex as travel, a persuasive factor such as environmental concerns can be a deciding factor in what to purchase or where to go. There is always a “need beyond the need.”
For example, I love the Fisher-Price website. There isn’t much about toys on the site, but plenty about how to be a good parent. Fisher-Price is selling information about how to be a great parent and raise a smart, gifted child. The need is not simply to purchase a toy, the need beyond the need is that loving parents will by a toy that will make your child smarter! What is the driving need behind the need for your products?
4. Anticipate the Objection
An advanced sales technique is for salespeople to overcome the objections posed by their prospects. Objections are typically seen as frustrating roadblocks to new salespeople, but seasoned sales experts are able to take an objection and turn it into a benefit. By listening, you can uncover the typical objections that prospects have to your offering, whether it is a product, subscription, or service. understanding the objections and planning for them can change an excuse into an eager conversion.
Do you know what the primary objection to your product/service/company is? If you don’t, you could be losing sales every day. By not understanding the primary objection people have, you are not prepared to deal with it and provide information to overcome the objection. This is why sites utilize limited-time offers, free trials, and online purchase discounts. By finding out the top objection, they can overcome the objection by making an offer that turns the objection into a positive reason to purchase.
Typical objections are time, money and quality. What is the objection for your business, and how can you turn it into a positive?
5. Ask for the Sale
This seems simple, but in face-to-face and in online sales, it seems as though people are afraid to ask for the action! You will never get commitment if you don’t ask. On a website, you need to make sure that your conversion point (sale, add to cart, contact, leads – anything that makes you money) is the biggest, boldest and most obvious part of the page. Asking for the sale is being obvious and inviting the prospect to take the next step. Online, you can’t be subtle in the design of your persuasive points! If people are persuaded, they need to easily see where to take the action. If it’s hidden, designed poorly, or not obvious, you are not asking for the sale by presenting it to the user.
Ask for the sale – make it big, bold and obvious!
Many times it is the little changes that provide the biggest results. Look over your online marketing and be sure that you are applying those tried and true sales principles. It is called wisdom for a reason, and it still works wonders!
Matt has taught Google employees how to understand and use Google Analytics, consulted with Experian on how to present data, developed online marketing training for both Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and presented analytics methodologies to Disney, ABC & ESPN.
As founder of SiteLogic, Matt teaches marketers how to create measurable and profitable strategic marketing plans.