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Sales Strategy & Management

8 Tips for Dominating Online Sales

Make buying online and your customers will thank you (and buy a lot more from you).

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In the last decade, online shopping has grown from a convenience to a necessity. Before the internet, shopping involved a process of getting ready, driving through traffic and navigating through a crowded retail store that may or may not have the necessary item. The digital age has changed everything about shopping. Now, shoppers don’t even need to get out of bed to get the items they want.

Shoppers today have the ability to look for any sort of item they want while comparing pricing and quality across a wide range of sources. There are a number of different tools that allow them to find the best deals. For example, Dropio is an app that notifies the user when the best available price of an item drops so they can lock in an order at the perfect time. With an infinite supply of online retailers, it can be stressful and time consuming to get your products or services to sell. Whether you are trying to sell one item or a thousand, there are a number of easy steps to take that will increase sales.

1. Know your target market

Knowing your brand’s audience is the most important ingredient to achieve success in any aspect of business. Different generations have different ways in which they absorb information. Gearing your online shopping options to the right demographic is key to driving digital sales. For example, millennials tend to gravitate towards more visual content when shopping whereas older generations typically prefer more informational, text based content. Consider your product and to whom it appeals. Then research their buying habits and figure out the best strategy to use on the website.

2. Keep it simple

When you are selling products online, it is all about creating a positive, one-stop customer experience in order to keep them coming back. Keeping the shopper’s browsing and buying options quick and easy to navigate is beneficial to both parties. A long, complicated buying process will turn users away from your website and give them time to reconsider their purchase. Amazon does a great job in letting the user save their payment options and allow one-click buying to make shopping as easy as possible.

Related: 5 Tips To Generate Sales Leads Through Social Media

3. Give shoppers an opportunity to leave a review

One of the biggest advantages consumers see in online shopping is the ability to view and assess previous customer reactions. Shoppers are becoming more dependent on reviews when considering a purchase. Having a product review section is an easy way to generate user content and can be a key motivator in getting new shoppers to buy.

4. Blog about it

Running a blog about your product or service is an extremely effective way to drive content marketing. Producing free, limitless content will do wonders to create trust while keeping users informed. A great way to get started blogging is to think up all possible queries a customer might have and answer each one in detail with its own article. As the business advances, there will be more opportunities to blog and create content to make the shopping experience as informative as possible.

5. Accommodate influencers

Online influencers can play a huge role in determining your business’ success. Once you have identified your target market, find the influencers within the respective community. This can be anyone such as a journalist, blogger, or public figure. A way to get on their good side is to give them a free sample of your product or service prior the public release. This gesture will let them know you respect their work as well as gives them an opportunity to talk about you within their community with an open mind. A potential shout out from a key influencer can not only provide measurable results, it will help to boost the status of your business to customers and drive online sales.

Related: 10 Ways To Get High-Roller Customers Spending More With You

6. Pull off a PR stunt

Attracting positive media attention is an amazingly effective way to increase sales in the digital age. A well-executed public relations stunt can be a difference maker in propelling your brand to worldwide recognition. Typically, a PR stunt will be something fun and outrageous that conveys your brand’s interests to a wide audience. Be sure to have a clear call to action that will bring traffic to your website.

7. Offer outstanding customer service

When people shop online, they want a sense of security before they buy; offer reassurance if their needs are not initially met. A great way to offer comfort to shoppers is to have a money back guarantee. If they are not satisfied with their purchase, give them a refund and ask them about their experience. It will help to improve your website. Be sure the entire process is as stress-free as possible. The last thing a frustrated customer wants is to to do is jump through a bunch of hoops in order to reverse their decision. Remember, this is the last impression of a transaction. Make sure it’s a good one.

8. Keep in touch with buyers

Building up a list of previous and potential buyers means you have a way to gauge reactions and inform them about new products. Following up with a shopper a few weeks after an online purchase is a great way to gain an insight on what buyers think of your business. As discussed earlier, customer reviews are very important in motivating others to buy. Reaching out after the fact to ask for their thoughts will build creditability while letting buyers know you value their experience.

Shopping attitudes and preferences have changed drastically in the last few decades. To survive in the digital age, businesses need to know how to effectively sell products online. In an increasingly interactive marketplace, creating an outstanding customer experience is essential in driving online sales for years to come.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Sheila Eugenio is the Founder and CEO of Media Mentions, a leading PR and digital marketing agency. Before founding Media Mentions, Sheila has consulted with several mediums to large businesses on how to position their brand and attract the right audience. She helps brands and startup companies to create PR strategies that reach to the right audience.

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Sales Strategy & Management

Get Those Quotas Moving (Upward!) In 2018! 5 Things Your Salespeople Can Do

Fewer than half of salespeople make quota, on average. Here are some best practices for to help them hit their targets in the new year.

John Holland

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Whether they had a tremendous 2017 or a difficult one, sellers likely hit the re-set button with the start of this new year. And that button push probably was accompanied by more aggressive quotas for those sellers to achieve in 2018.

So, what should sellers do to gear up for the coming year? As 2018 gets under way, here are five things I can share to help sellers get off to a good start.

1. Avoid stale quotes and proposals

Unlike fine red wine, proposals that have been in the sales pipeline more than 45 days old aren’t getting better. Many of them, in fact, are likely to have “no decision” outcomes.

So, if you’re the seller, what’s going on? There may be instances where your prospects have chosen a competitor and not given you the bad news. My suggestion is to send a snail mail letter, “return receipt requested,” to the highest level you’ve called on within the account. State in the letter how long the proposal has been outstanding, noting that you haven’t been updated on its status and that you intend to withdraw if you don’t hear anything back.

Related: 3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

The hope is that your letter will cause the buyer to contact you and say there is still interest. If that’s the case, you can ask to revisit the opportunity (help facilitate a cost vs. benefit analysis) and see if a revised recommendation can be made.

If your letter doesn’t elicit a response, you can safely remove it from your forecast. While that’s not the desired outcome, you’ll have the benefit of a more realistic view of the size and health of your pipeline.

2. Create add-on opportunities

Sellers often believe that if customers have additional needs, they’ll proactively reach out. Certainly, close rates will be higher when there is an existing relationship vs. when sellers are closing new accounts. That’s why sellers should take a look at each client and try to determine potential business needs that might be addressed through the use of their company’s offerings; they should then proactively contact the key players who might be interested.

The key to initiating add-on opportunities is taking executives from latent to active need for a company’s desired business outcomes.

3. Be realistic with nurtured leads

If the cost of your offerings exceeds $50,000, you may want to take a hard look at the entry level that nurtured leads provide. My view is that many of those leads get sellers in touch with people that are doing product evaluations. So, those people may not be working with budgets and have not identified potential areas of value/payback that can be realised through the use of your offerings.

Ask yourself if the contact you’ve been given is a potential champion who can provide you access to the key players you must call on to sell, fund and implement the offering being considered. If not, I suggest you treat the contact as a coach that may be willing to get you an introduction to a higher level that may then serve as your champion. My thought is to gain access to people who will see value in your offerings.

Related: How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018

4. Ask for referrals

Satisfied customers can be under-used assets, especially if sellers can help them quantify results.

My preference is that sellers break down benefits and values specific to titles and outcomes that have been achieved using those sellers’ offerings.

Once quantified, sellers can ask if their customers know of any other individuals or companies they could be referred to.

5. Plan a sales cycle ahead

When I was in engineering school, I was a “just-in-time” learner in that I studiously avoided professors who assigned homework and also approached midterm and final exams with some last-minute cramming.

Some sellers follow my academic model – and that’s not smart: In terms of their year quota, many sellers who are not YTD against their numbers believe they can close enough business in the last quarter to make up for their previous gaps. But this is a very stressful strategy, and there will be times when sellers run out of runway.

An alternative I’d suggest is for sellers to break their quota into monthly increments and multiply that number by the months in an average sales cycle. They can then estimate their close rates and set pipeline thresholds they should try to exceed.

Once they’re at the stage of interviewing committee members, sellers can then negotiate their activities and time frames via a written document with buyers (I call this pipeline “E”). Here’s an example of how to project ahead:

  • A seller has a $2.4 million quota ($200,000/month).
  • Her average sales cycle is four months and her close rate is 50 percent.
  • Therefore, her “E” target is to close $800,000 or more every four-month period.
  • At any time, if she is YTD or better, her E target will be $1.6 million in her pipeline.
  • In a given month, any shortfall from YTD must be doubled and added to that $1.6 million; business development efforts must be ramped up.

Being aware of YTD performance to date and projecting the sales cycle that’s ahead on a monthly basis can reduce stress levels during Q4.

And reducing stress is good, right? I hope these tips can help make your 2018 a great, and de-stressed, year.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Sales Strategy & Management

(Podcast) Are All Prices Negotiable?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Nicholas Haralambous

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What is up for negotiation? When should you be negotiating prices, and when should you be open to negotiating prices with your customers?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Listening time: 8 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems

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Sales Strategy & Management

Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Once upon a time only certain people were in sales. Every day, these folks sold stuff, the rest of us did stuff, and everyone was happy. One day, the world began to change. More of us started working for ourselves- and because we were entrepreneurs, suddenly we became salespeople, too. At the same time, large operations discovered that segmenting job functions did not work very well during volatile business conditions-and because of that, they began demanding elastic skills that stretched across boundaries and included a sales component.” – Daniel Pink

The transformation of sales persons to Sales Leaders is not only the essence of this article but increasingly becoming a necessity, considering the skills demand required to convince people to buy your product or service within an modern environment wherein the consumer is spoilt for choice.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

In general staples in the make up of old school sales training was and in some cases still is: Product knowledge, fielding sales calls in a friendly way yet creating urgency, learning the ability to overcome client objections and of course do not forget the all-important methods of upselling.

All those elements of selling are still important in general yet “soft skills” such as active listening, handling conflict, and above all removing the emphasis from selling a product or service to selling an enhanced lifestyle or life experience has become the new frontier for the sales game.

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less. The “parrot method” of drilling sales scripts into the salesforce of the company is slowly but surely becoming obsolete as people want to feel that they are being cared about and considered within the sales process as individuals. “Caring for the other person is the only leverage in any conversation”, Gary Vaynerchuk says.

The above theory calls for a balance between Sales Leaders whom inspires their sales teams to create a personal, professional, and vibrant environment for their customers wherein which they are highly motivated to buy, and Sales managers whom monitor the key sales metrics and checks that sales procedures are being followed. In the modern world both Sales Leadership and management are needed at each end of the balancing scale.

Still, to this day an unfortunate large proportion of sales people are like lambs put to the slaughter, within some situations, as the only weapon taught to them is product knowledge and wearing a smile and then suddenly a very unhappy customer unleashes their anger upon them, and now the poor sales person has no knowledge in terms of how to deal with conflict, generally speaking. How to cope with and overcome conflict and other negotiation skills has become paramount in sustaining very good client relations.

Ethical Leadership is also strongly put forward as a necessary component of any sales training or course through this article. Sales techniques filtered through the companies Vision, mission statement and value system to test its validity and alignment to the companies’ culture can be increasingly effective as opposed to simply applying generic methods of selling which is not always aligned to the company ethos. A high level of ethics amongst Sales Leaders can ensure that after sales promises are kept and that the product sold is in effect as good as propagated by the sales person.

Related: The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

When a servant leadership culture is prevalent within your company it goes a long way to ensure that your sales people create a caring and positive experience complimented by an enhanced after sales service. Servant Leadership within a sales context is to put the customers’ and teams’ purpose above the individual team members purpose and that by itself is a potential multiplier of sales performance.

A highly important factor within the context of sales performance is the sales Leaders’ ability to formulate the right questions to be asked of the client in order to create a very pleasant experience. Statements in general can be quite dangerous as it is normally viewed as final and very hard to take back once communicated. Questions on the other hand requires an answer and when posed in a caring way can quickly establish rapport with a client.

Subtle nuances picked up by the Sales Leader through asking the right questions can greatly assist in creating positive client engagement. A practical example would be to refrain from the very obvious question of:  how are you? People are so used to being asked this question that they are not likely to give you a very open and honest answer and will be likely to provide you with very generic answers such as, “Fine thank you, “Well thanks and you”, and so forth.

By very simply changing the question to: “How are you feeling today? “, the very perceptive Sales Leader can relatively easily pick up on the client’s emotional state and adjust the conversation from there in order to create rapport.

In Summary, this writing actually asks one question to all CEOs’ and/or boards that must take their companies forward towards a desired future state: Do you want sales people and managers whom are likely to maintain the status quo, or do you seek Sales Leaders whom will challenge the status quo and will always be willing to ask more of themselves in terms of increased skill levels and performance?

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