Sunday, October 10, 2010

Making sales online

The rookie mistake of many entrepreneurs when starting a business online,  is not knowing how to make sales. Many entrepreneurs seem to practice the, If I build it they will come, approach, assuming that f the website is up and running and providing information on a certain product or service, then the sales will look after themselves. Just as well really otherwise competition online would have been much tougher. The fact is that you still, and maybe now especially so, need to be sales orientated. Product and sales delivery is important, marketing is important, SEO is important, but more important that any of these, depending on your business model of course, is sales. You don't make the sales, your business does not make money. Its really as simple as that.

When should you ask for a sale and when should you just focus on helping? Few bigger questions are asked by professional marketers. While there is no absolute method for reaching a single prospect, as each seller is different and each buyer is unique, here are some useful strategies for increasing marketing response.

Cultivate Prospects
You get a lead not to sell, but to help. If you focus on gathering the right kind of leads, you stand a better chance to get valuable information about them to help you turn them into prospects. In general terms, leads are what you start with, prospects are good leads that have the potential to become buyers, and buyers are where you profit. On the web, cultivating prospects has never been more effective. You can send so much value in a simple email and coupon code, increasing sales in a matter of hours. You can post a new product launch on Facebook, get responses, and watch the traffic to your business blog double.

Build Relationships
The best strategy for building relationships with your buyers is to personalize your business. Rather than focusing on selling more and more, help a particular buyer more and more. If you ever get emails from businesses you’ve bought from before, look over them and see what is offered, especially by the bigger companies. Amazon, a marketing and brand icon online, sends out individualized emails to its buyers. If you buy a certain kind of book, you may get an email explaining the author has a new title out. This is a perfect way to build on a relationship: I know you liked this, so you might also like this product, which happens to be on sale. That is the way to ask your client for another sale.

Sometimes you just have to open your ears to hear problems and their solutions. By listening, we are not being subjective. You might get a few complaints from some buyers via email, or someone might ask for a new product on your blog or maybe some Facebook fans will tell you about this other store that’s having a massive sale and that you need to compete. Listening is not only a great way to build relationships, but also trust. It can give you unique ideas on what to market and sell next. If a buyer sends you an email about your product – happy or angry – read it over and see how you can solve any mistakes. (Even better, do your best to rebuild this relationship.)

Asking for a sale should be the final step in marketing response, not the first. If you walk up to someone in the park and ask him or her to buy your car (even if it’s really a great deal) what is the likely out come? The best way to ask for a sale is when there’s already a relationship and value established. For our concerns, keeping prospects and customers happy is about first, avoiding SPAM and second, knowing how often you should ask. Do not be forgotten, but avoid being ignored because you make too much contact. This is called the contact strategy. Plan for how you will show value to all clients, with different goals for each of them, from the smaller buyers to the clients who keep you in business.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for turning leads into prospects. Some leads will practically sell themselves where others, no matter how great a relationship you have established, will never commit. Every buyer is going to be little bit different, but the hope is that you increase your marketing response rate by building better relationships with your prospects.