There. Done. Period. I can stop writing now.
But in reality, I can’t because for some reason businesses like to think online communication is different than face-to-face communication. Let’s walk through the confusion.
Pre-Internet, people had to come to your brick and mortar store or you had to go to them to sell. You were the expert. People came to do research at your place, putting you in control of the situation.
With the advent of the Internet, research has been placed online in many forms. Now, customers can do their research where they are comfortable and at their own pace- and that’s not where you are.
The problem that this has created in the world of sales is that it has confused the salespeople and processes of old. Thus, salespeople have now created a new form of communication online in order to drive the customers to a place where salespeople are comfortable, which is on-site or on the phone. My opinion is that this is a foolhardy notion and in fact drives customers AWAY from businesses.
If we are to be successful in sales in the age of the Internet, we have to move towards a more consultative approach and be available to answer questions where our customers are: online. When we answer questions there, we actually gain control of the conversation and can keep our potential clients engaged and move them along to a possible sale.
If we play games or don’t answer questions where our customers are looking, with our only concern being to drive customers to come in or pick up the phones, we actually allow them to leave the conversation and we are left to wonder what happened to them.
So what should we be doing?
Well what would you do if a customer were in front of you in your store, no matter what the product?
You would do the following:
- Sell yourself.
- Sell your place of business.
- Sell the product or service.
- Sell your reputation/what your previous customers said.
Take the time to make sure your online sales process has steps that include the above. Make sure that you have templates with some great marketing facts to support your points. Have links to your review sites for the ‘why buy from us’ aspect.
Remember that a website is a virtual showroom. Customers want to be helped, not sold. The sale happens when your customers feel comfortable enough with you to pull the trigger. They want to buy and they are not so worried about the price; if they like you they will spend more.
Sales are so successful face-to-face because we can read body language and voice. The goal of online communication is to get customers to call or come on site, yes; but the only way you will do that is to follow the same strategy you would in the days pre-Internet.
The great thing about the ability to do online research is that when customers contact you or show up on site, they have already gotten rid of all of the other competitors, or have whittled it down to a few. And it is then that you can rely on the face-to-face skills you have honed.
Remember that keeping communication simple is the key to success. What you would say to a customer who is right in front of you, is what you should say online.