What's the difference between online and brick-and-mortar sales?
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Q: How does theonline sales process differ from brick-and-mortar sales?
A: The differenceis merely in the process of communicating with the customer. Butthe basic goal is the same: to find more qualified customers.
Here's a three-step process to drive more prospects to yourWeb site:
1. Build a user-friendlysite. Start by allowing viewers to navigate easilythrough your site. Make sure the categories are clearly identifiedand are logically organized specifically and clearly. Is your sitevisually interesting? Are you keeping your site current andupdated? Designing a Web site is no different than dressing a storewindow or creating an appealing advertisement. It must seduce alltypes of buyers. Remember, some of your prospects have neveraccessed the Internet before and don't want to be taken througha complicated process. Keep it simple. Make sure your site iscreating an impact. Research qualified Web builders and make it apoint to see their work before you hire one.
2. Use a variety of advertisingvehicles, such as print, telemarketing and direct-mailadvertising. Make sure each advertising campaign drivescustomers to your site. Don't count on people surfing theInternet to find you. For example, include your Web address on yourvoicemail an in all newspaper ads, brochures and newsletters. Saysomething to entice the reader to your site such as, "Checkout our Web site and you'll learn three things you never knewabout (pick a topic)."
3. Join an affiliate marketingprogram. Think of it as practicing network marketing onthe Internet. Take my friend, Cathy. She started a "kitbusiness" on the Internet. The first kit she produced was an"Official New Bride Name Change Kit." It's aneasy-to-use kit for new brides customized to the bride's stateand ZIP code. It contains all required government forms, personalrecord change forms, and, an instruction guide and checklist tohelp new brides change from their maiden name to their new marriedname. Then she created an affiliate program link on her site. Thismeans she partnered with other complementary companies that haveproducts or services that are compatible with her kit. One of heraffiliates is an attorney who sells legal forms. If a customer orprospect from her site connects to his site and purchases hisservices, Cathy earns a commission check. Of course the sameapplies to the attorney when one of his prospects connects toCathy's site and buys a bridal kit.
You can partner with numerous other businesses on your Web site.But before you add banners (more partner links) to your page,research which businesses are compatible with you. If you'repart of the hospitality industry, for example, you can link withtravel agents or realtors. Once you figure out who's compatiblewith your business, then be sure your future partners arereputable. Taking time to research credentials is especiallyimportant on the Internet. Try to get a face-to-face appointmentwith your prospective affiliates. If they're in another state,references will be particularly important.
Another exciting aspect of the affiliate program is incentives.You can create perks that will motivate affiliates to drivequalified prospects back to your site once they've purchasedfrom them. Affiliate programs cost nothing to set up and provide aquick source of income for your business. Go to Commission Junction Inc.for more details. It shows business owners how to make additionalcommissions off ancillary products or services related to what theysell. Check it out.
All the same principles that apply to brick-and-mortar salesapply to online selling: Follow-up, go the extra mile to please thecustomer, and ask them for future referrals. Online selling issimply another option you can tap to double your income andincrease your lifetime customer base.
Danielle Kennedy is an authority on selling, developing apeak performance attitude and winning customers for life. Call herat (800) 848-8070 or visit www.daniellekennedy.com for information onconsulting for your business.
The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.