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Secrets Of E-Commerce Success: How To Build A Great Catalogue

How to create an excellent catalogue.

Brendon Williamson

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There are five things every business must know before building a website: What it’s for, what the budget is, who will create it, who will manage it and how customers are going to find it.

1. Why your catalogue is so important

When we shop in bricks-and-mortar stores, we all understand the importance of making things attractive to look at, and easy to find. If everything is lying in a heap, only those who are truly desperate for a bargain will bother searching through it. We’re far more likely to buy when things are clearly displayed, labelled and priced.

It’s exactly the same with an online store: As the seller, it’s your job to make sure your customers can find what they’re looking for, quickly and easily.

If they want to browse before buying, you want to make that a pleasant experience, not a series of frustrations. To get that right, you need to pay serious attention to the quality of your catalogue.

There are two elements to a good catalogue: How it’s displayed on the site, and what its actual content is. The first is your web developer’s job; the second is up to you.

Related: Make Money On The Internet

2. There’s no substitute for hard work

Unfortunately, in most cases your regular product catalogue is nothing more than a good start when it comes to a web catalogue. When there’s a physical shop, people can satisfy their curiosity by picking things up and asking questions. Online, you have to anticipate their questions by giving as much relevant information as possible.

You’ll need a spreadsheet for this, and for each item you’re selling it should list things like: Product name, product code, short and long descriptions, technical specifications (eg dimensions, weight, size, colour, voltage, materials, required accessories like batteries and whether they’re included or not – anything that’s relevant) and images. If you’re reselling items you’ve ordered from someone else, their own catalogue is a good place to start – but you can almost certainly improve on it.

This is hard, hard work, but there’s no way around it. If you leave it to your developer, it will take a lot longer and cost a lot more. Besides, you’re the one who understands your products. But do check with your web developer early on that the information is in a format they can use, and ask for their suggestions about how to improve it.

3. Make it user friendly

If you’ve shopped online yourself, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of seeing shops list their products under names like ‘SPX7001 Mark II Widget (black)’. Don’t do this to your customers. You may need a product code for your own admin purposes – but for displaying your wares, every product needs a clear name and description that will help customers find what they are looking for.

Don’t use names that don’t convey information: ‘Ariadne’ might mean lots to you, but it means nothing to your customer. If you must use a name you love, ‘Ariadne 3-strand Venetian glass bead necklace’  is more useful.

Test your names and descriptions out on friends and family members to see if they make sense. If there’s something that confuses people, find a way to answer the questions. For example, given the choice between a 20cm necklace and a 30cm necklace, most people would struggle to know the difference – show pictures of a model wearing each style and the problem is solved.

4. Yes, a picture does say a thousand words

Pictures sell – and better pictures sell more. If you have a big enough budget, consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your goods – if not, do some research so that you can do a good enough DIY job. For example: Take your pictures against a white background, make sure they are well lit by a white (not yellow) globe with no harsh shadows, make sure they’re in focus, use more than one angle and include a close up.

Ask your developer what size and format the pictures should be delivered in, and stick to that. (You will probably find they’re too big to email and you will need to use a service like DropBox or hand over a flash drive.)

5. Don’t forget other content

Your catalogue is an important piece of content for your site, but not the only one. Don’t leave it to your web developer to write your home page and other copy for you – design and writing are very different skills, and you can’t expect someone to be good at both.

There are at least two benefits to writing your own copy, or hiring a professional to do it.

  • Firstly, it will do the job you need it to do.
  • Secondly, you will probably find that writing down the story of your company and what you sell forces you to become clear about some things that were probably fuzzy about your own business. Use it as a learning opportunity.

If you can get these five things right, you are laying some of the most important foundations for a successful website.

Related: 5 Extremely Effective Content Marketing Formats

Brendon has been in the online payments industry for 11 years and specialised in online fraud management and product development. Before PayGate, Brendon spent time as a Risk Specialist for DataCash, a MasterCard owned company, consulted directly to ecommerce Merchants worldwide assisting them with the implementation of fraud management systems and processes as well as headed the global risk operations for Intercept Risk Services. Brendon has filled numerous speaking slots nationally and internationally. Brendon is also known for his online fraud training, specifically a workshop titled Unmasking the Fraudster. Part of Brendon’s portfolio at PayGate is ensuring that it offers solutions that assist small businesses when moving into the online realm and offering established online Merchants secure and reliable ways to receive payments. Tel: 0861 102 172/ Email: brendonw@paygate.co.za

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Techniques

How To Get Ready To Sell Your Business – Advice From Marnus Broodryk

If you’re thinking about selling your business, there are some critical steps you need to make first.

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MAKING THE SALE

A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information.


Some entrepreneurs are ‘starters’, they like to start a business, get it off the ground and then flog it. Others are ‘growers’, they look for existing businesses and have the ability to grow them beyond their original value. Both will probably get to the same end point: Selling the business.

But entrepreneurs are often misled when it comes to the sale. They have put everything into the business and it is worth a huge amount to them because of it. But buyers are seldom willing to match the price, because what is being sold, and what is being bought, are not the same thing. Sellers see the emotional and financial investments they’ve put in; the buyer mostly looks at one thing: Profit.

Effort does not equal profit. The balance is out.

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

Prepare for the challenges of selling

Once you get to market you will soon realise that there are, unfortunately, fewer buyers than you’d like. Unlike listed companies, you can’t sell shares easily and quickly on a public platform. Instead, you need to find an interested individual or business, many of whom just aren’t buying what you’re selling.

Some of them are, but that doesn’t guarantee a sale. Most SMEs must put their faith in a cash deal, since banks will never finance anyone wanting to buy them. In reality, this means that you may have a genuinely interested buyer for your business, who won’t be able to get finance for it from the bank. So, after a few months, you’re back to square one. After a few rounds of this cycle many entrepreneurs will just sell out of desperation, forgetting what the business could actually be worth.

Selling a business can be very emotionally draining and this will be compounded by many people who will waste your time and mess you around. You spent a large portion of your life building this, but others will not see it the same way you do. Ensure that you prepare and mitigate against all of those issues, and have the stomach for the fight.

Always keep the end in mind

If you are looking at exiting your business, it is crucial to allow enough time to prepare yourself for it. Maybe you’re simply tired of your business and you just want to get out, but, because the business is not in a great state at the moment, you’re too fed up to care, and you simply don’t have the energy to fix the issues.

You’re at risk of letting your business go for next to nothing. All the hard work for hardly any reward.

Related: Selling Your Business To Your Business Partner

If you have the end in mind, and prepare for it, it can be a very different, more lucrative story. A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information. You need to have proper financial records for your business and you need to be able to show the potential buyer how much the business is making and how it is making it. It sounds so elementary, yet most entrepreneurs don’t have financial information when they want to sell their businesses. If you think you may want to sell in the future, make sure you’re keeping solid records now.

If your business’s financials are messy, start cleaning them up at least twelve months before trying to sell your business. Remove all your personal expenses from the business and ensure that all transactions are properly recorded, and that your taxes are up to date and accurate. Work with your accountant to prepare a sales pack with all your financial information, including details of your clients, employees, suppliers, what your strong and weak points are and how the business could grow in the future. It’s at this stage that you can pick up on issues and resolve them before taking your business to the market, making it a much more attractive product.

With some (more) hard work, you will be in a great position to sell your business, you will have serious buyers and the valuation that you deserve for all your hard work. If you don’t, why bother?

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Techniques

4 Rules Of Engagement That Wildly Increase Your Odds Of Closing The Deal

If someone calls about what you sell, call them back. Not in a week, right now.

Grant Cardone

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Sales is a process that can be learned but is comprised of many topics and categories that you have to master to become an expert. No one book or recording can cover everything you need to know to become great.

Consider that every salesperson has a unique personality and then add to that that every customer interaction and customer personality is unique and you can see how complicated it can become. Surgery is almost less complicated for the doctor because he is dealing with bodies that are unconscious while the salesperson is dealing with personalities, egos, insecurities, uncertainty, economics, competition and more.

Here are a few of the topics that salespeople need to learn and understand:

New to Sales

  • Fundamentals of Selling
  • Road to the Sale
  • Handling Objections
  • Negotiating Strategies
  • Social Media and Sales
  • Closing the Deal
  • Follow Up for Owners
  • Follow Up for the Unclosed
  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Meetings
  • Understanding Customers
  • Incoming Calls
  • Outbound Calls
  • Cold Calls
  • Internet Response
  • Customer Service
  • Motivation.

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the different topics so let’s narrow the focus and talk specifically about four general rules to follow once you have actually gotten a customer or prospect in front of you. What approach will you take? Not knowing means you’ll be missing out on deals every day.

In business, you must have a pipeline and a belief system that you can sell to anyone. Once you have become engaged here are four general rules to help you in the process.

Related: How To Seal The Deal By Understanding The 3 Phases Of The Customer Buying Cycle

1. Agree

No matter what the buyer says, states or demands, you should under no circumstance ever disagree, make the buyer wrong or suggest their request is impossible. This simple strategy is very powerful and will save you lots of sales once you perfect it.

The old saying – the customer is never wrong – is not true. In fact, often the customer is wrong; sometimes they even lie, but that doesn’t mean you should call them out. When you tell someone you can’t, you won’t, you’re not allowed to or that’s impossible, you only cause the customer to become more dug-in on their position. You make it more difficult to come to an agreement.

Train, drill and rehearse avoiding all variations of no, not, never, can’t and won’t. Any and all variations of “no” and “can’t” must be eliminated from your vocabulary.

Now when you hear this you may think, “I don’t want to mislead the customer and I am not going to over promise and then be unable to deliver.” The problem here is when you tell someone early on you are unable to do something because you are “so honest’” you just eliminated any chance of being able to do anything for the customer. Try this when a customer asks for the impossible, “I never say no until I have to – if that is possible, there is no better place for you to be.”

Role play this law of selling until you no longer get into confrontations with your buyer and make them more difficult than they already are. Perfect “no problem, happy to, my pleasure, exactly what I am thinking, done, you got it” and then learn how to negotiate from a place of agreement. This does not mean that you simply lie down and give the buyer everything they want. It means you use the agreement to keep the negotiations loose enough to be negotiated.

Just because this is simple do not underestimate the time and energy necessary to get GREAT at it.

2. Present

You must give them an offer and your proposal should have a figure and be presented with confidence. These seems basic but 72 percent of salespeople never present a proposal to their customer, which is part of the reasons why 87 percent of all salespeople miss their quota.

Simply increase the number of people you show a written proposal to and you will close more deals.

3. Close

Wrap the deal up and get them to purchase. When you get to the close, make sure you are with the decision maker. Qualify them and have a sense of urgency. Without urgency, there’s no point in doing the deal today or tomorrow.

Selling, presenting, demonstrating, promoting, marketing, building trust, etc. are all very commendable and admirable actions but in no way compare to finally closing the deal. Closing is when you finally benefit your buyer.

Closing allows you and your company to expand. All the things that took place prior to the close were necessary to get to the close but will not allow for expansion and survival. Close the deal! Be willing to do whatever it takes to close the deal, knowing that only when you close do you provide any real value to the customer.

The close is ultimately for the buyer, not for you or your company. Until the customer closes they cannot benefit from your service or offer.

Related: 6 Ways To Win A Better Deal

4. Follow-up

This is the Holy Grail of sales. It’s the most important thing there is but few people and companies do it. Consider that 48 percent of salespeople never follow up and that 64 percent of companies admit they do not have any organised way to nurture a lead. Follow up is a massive opportunity. Then add to that the average company takes almost 72 hours to follow up a lead, even though contacting a customer in the first five to 10 minutes increases your chances of contacting the customer 900 times. Text them in the first five minutes and your chances of closing them increase 50X.

Learn the rules and use the rules and make deals.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Techniques

Why Every Business Needs A Call Centre

Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.

Amy Galbraith

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call-centre

As a business owner, you are likely always looking for something to put you ahead of the competition. This could be anything from a new marketing strategy to an exciting product. But many companies do not think of call centres when it comes to boosting their business and putting themselves ahead of the competition.

A call centre allows you to interact with consumers. If you do not have the staff for it in-house you can outsource for premium call centre quality assurance to ensure customer satisfaction. You will be able to provide stellar customer service as well as collect data from the calls to improve your business. Still not convinced? Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.

They help to build customer loyalty

Having a call centre does more than allow you to answer the complaints and queries of customers. It will help to build up customer loyalty, especially if you choose to outsource your contact centre management.

While online shopping has grown immensely over the years, many consumers still want to be able to phone in and ask questions about products that are not working, that are damaged or for advice on how to remedy a problem with their purchase. A call centre will provide confidence to consumers that your company is there to help and provide trusted advice, which will, in turn, improve their loyalty to your brand.

Related: 8 Ways To Upskill Your Call Centre Team Before Year-End

You can get to know your audience

By having a call centre that allows you to interact with consumers on a one-on-one basis, you will be learning valuable information about who your customers are. And because you will be monitoring every call, you can ascertain the demographics of your audience.

For example, you might find that several calls are coming in from one area, which will allow you to focus your marketing strategies to that geo-location. Or you might notice that a certain product is bringing in similar complaints. This information will allow you to make important changes to the product. This data will help you to get to know your audience and tailor your products, services and messages to their needs.

They help to avoid lost sales

Quality assurance is vital to the success of your customer support. This is because a call centre will help to avoid lost sales and lead opportunities. Instead of relying on a voicemail service (which consumers will likely not use) your call centre will allow consumers to speak directly to a helpline, which will encourage them to buy from your brand.

For those who have a small amount of staff, outsourced contact centre services will provide a shorter wait time for call centre queues. Lost sales can be disastrous to a company of any size, so investing in a call centre will help to remedy this. If consumers are not waiting in long phone queues, they are likely to make a purchase or use your services. And leads will become conversions because consumers will feel valued and satisfied.

You will have an edge on the competition

In the world of business, everything is cutthroat. If your competitors have a number for consumers to call in case of any issues and you do not, it is likely that they will choose your competitor over you.

An effective way to beat the competition is to provide a call centre number to your customers as well as office numbers. This way they can call the customer support number for product related issues and the office number if they would like to speak to managers or make business deals. If you outsource your call centre management, you are sure to have a leg up on the competition. Consumers want to feel as though their voices are being heard and taken seriously.

Related: The Future of Call Centre Design

It is professional

Whatever the size of your business, remaining and appearing professional to business partners and consumers is important. Having a call centre that gives a customised greeting to consumers and sends them through to an agent will make it appear as though you are an established company doing business with many customers.

Professional customer service is vital for the success of any company, especially if you are a start-up. And if you are a larger company, try not to become complacent with the customer service you are already offering. If consumers can phone in with queries and compliments, they will have trust in your brand’s professionalism, leading to customer loyalty and more sales.

Be future facing

Anyone who runs a business knows how important it is to look toward the future. And having a call centre can help with this. It will help to build up customer loyalty, you will learn more about your consumers and your audience, you will avoid lost sales and you will have an edge on the competition.

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