Whether your business sells a product or a service, your business requires that you be able to sell it. In the past, sales typically happened face to face. A potential customer would hear about your business from an ad he or she heard on local radio or television or by word of mouth. That potential customer would come into your business and discuss it with you, you would then attempt to make a sale. This was a pretty simple process. You had to compete with businesses in your immediate area and a few big box stores that ran catalogue ordering business. Catalogues typically only came out once per season, and they were only popular amongst certain customers. Essentially, you were in competition with a few other businesses.
Everything has changed though. The Internet has placed your business in competition with every business that sells the same product or service that you do. A customer can order a product from anywhere in the world and have it delivered quickly. Because of that increased amount of competition, it is more important than ever to be an effective salesperson. Sales management courses can teach you the skills necessary to run an effective sales department.
Sales in the Past
In the past, sales were a simple procedure. A salesperson would wait for customers to walk into his or her business. If a business person were selling widgets, he or she would wait for a customer to come in and then attempt to make the sale. The salesperson would typically talk with the customer about his or her widget needs. Then the salesperson would talk up the wonderful features of a particular kind of widget. After the customer was enticed by all of the features, the salesperson would mention the price of the widget. In some businesses, this would signal the beginning of a negotiation over the price. In other businesses, the price is firm, and no haggling can occur. Whatever the case may be, the salesperson would have to close the sale. It was a fairly simple process that relied on personality and informed answers. The process has changed very much.
Sales in the Present
The sales field today is much more complex than ever before. The profession is more complicated than ever because the market for practically every product has expanded to global proportions. Now, whether a sale is face-to-face or over the Internet, you have to convince a customer that your product is a better deal than any of thousands of other options. It is likely that some product being produced is actually cheaper than your own product. You will have to convince potential customers that your more expensive product is worth the extra expense.
The Internet obviously makes face to face sales different because you have to compete with businesses around the world. The strength of the face-to-face sale is that you will be offering something that customers do not receive as often. The biggest effect is probably on the Internet sales though.
A sales manager has to know how to effectively make a sale over the Internet. Making a sale over the Internet is difficult in a lot of ways because the lack of face to face communication can make the interaction seem very impersonal.
A sale over the Internet begins with an effective marketing scheme. Internet marketing often involves reaching customers in very specialised areas. So, in that way, it can be more effective than something as imprecise as a billboard. For example, if a person is on a website devoted to running, then the ads on the site might be for trainers. If you sell running shoes, it would be a good idea to get an ad on a running website.
Once the customer travels to your website, he or she will quickly assess several factors. The potential customer will decide if your website looks like it is up to date and appealing. Outdated websites send the impression that your business is not operational or at least not very modern. You don’t want to send that message.
The customer will then go in search of a product or service he or she needs. To continue the example of trainers, the customer will search for trainers in his or her size and preferred style. If your website is not very well laid out, that customer might give up very quickly. With so many options around the world, potential customers do not work very hard to find a way to spend their money. They always have more options. Anything that makes it more difficult for a person to pay you is called friction. Friction can be something as big as a faulty link on your website that leads to nowhere, but it can also be something as simple as a link that is hard to find. Reducing friction is very important to running an effective sales department online.
Once you have reduced the amount of friction, you still have to sell the product. The principles of making a sale online are very similar to making a sale in person. You have to describe the product as well as why the customer would need your product. This is more difficult on the Internet because you need to cover all of these bases in the space of a few words in the product description. Writing good copy is important because customers will likely listen to you talk for much longer than they will read a product description.
However, the Internet does offer a few advantages over face-to-face interactions. One such advantage is customer reviews. On a website, you can feature product or service reviews from customers. Customers tend to trust these more than they trust the words of a salesperson. Customers figure that a salesperson has a desire to sell you something, but a former customer has no reason to lie or exaggerate about a product.
Selling products in the 21st century has advantages over the past but it also has some disadvantages. You will have sell products online which can be difficult, but you will also be able to provide the customer with more resources to make an informed decision.