but isn't that…?" the guy looks about
could anything this good be bad?" She winks at him.
"Go on, try it. Just one bite and you'll see what I
I don’t know if I should…what if…?” he says with
on. Trust me. I would never steer you wrong. Try it. You’ll
see.” She replies enthusiastically.
is intrigued. The fruit is delightfully red, sounds crispy
every time she bites into it, and if her reactions are any
indication, the thing must be really great.
all right." He lounges beside her, reaches for the
fruit and sinks his teeth into it. She made the pitch, he
bought it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
just reconstructed (with a teensy bit of artistic license)
what might be the first recorded sale in the history of
humankind: the moment Eve sold Adam on eating the
forbidden fruit. Sales! It's great stuff, a big mover and
shaker in the human equation. And it's exactly what you
want your website to accomplish. You just need to keep
this in mind: the time-tested sales principles that
have worked offline since forever do work online. In
fact, they’re essential. Ignore them and not very many
people will buy your apples.
trace the development of the art and science of sales from
early barter economies through the invention of currency,
from nomadic markets to retail stores and then to huge
malls, from road shows and door-to-door to telemarketing
and TV shopping. In every single case the medium was new,
and sometimes even amazing, but the message, the
systematic process of getting a customer to buy, has
been the same. QVC didn’t succeed by forcing a new
technology on its customers and demanding they adapt, but
rather by adapting the technology so it could serve
customers the way they’ve always preferred to be served,
have employed every communication medium available as a
sales tool, so it's no surprise to Your Grokness that with
the recent development of the PC and the Internet, you
humans would turn your attention to selling online.
There's one small catch, however (if you haven't already
figured it out). All previous vehicles for sales allowed
for some degree of human interaction. Successful
selling is human-centered - people meeting the needs
of people based on a series of steps understood, either
explicitly or implicitly, by all participants. As far as
the recent history of sales has played out online,
however, websites have replaced the human-centered sales
process with lots of non-human-friendly technology. But
the Internet does not change the fact that people do want
to be sold (in a positive way), that buying is
fundamentally an emotional decision, and that to be
successful, sales must stay in touch with its
human-centered roots regardless of the medium.
got plenty of red ink and dotcom failures to prove the
present approach to online sales is sorely lacking in
fundamental sales ability. When you’ve got fancy
designs, elaborate programming and the marketing people
burying your site in “eyeballs” but you can’t
convert enough of your traffic to make a dent in your
expenses, do you have a design problem, a programming
problem, a marketing problem or … a sales problem?
the next phase in the history of online sales going to be?
Pirouetting shoes and strolls through virtual malls?
Yikes!! Efforts to make the online environment look and
feel just like its physical counterpart may look clever,
but they miss the boat. The online experience can’t
replicate the offline experience. So instead of using lots
of expensive and slow technology trying to be something it’s
not, wouldn’t it make more sense for e-commerce to be
better at what it is? Besides, customers who vote with
their mouse buttons already have proved they’re not
interested in “solutions” that are long on sizzle
but short on substance, take forever to load, and only
delay what they came for: to buy.
next phase of online
sales history is going to belong to those who grasp and
correctly apply the concept of what might be called a digital
salesperson: a website that performs all the functions
an expert human salesperson would in the real world, is
able to guide the prospect through all five steps of a
professional sale, acknowledges how different people want
to be sold and can adapt to those needs. Five steps?
Prospect, Rapport, Qualify, Present, Close. If you don’t
prospect, you have no customer to build rapport
with. No rapport = no trust = no sale. As you build rapport
you then can qualify your customer and know both
what that customer wants and what kind of presentation
will work best. This leads to the presentation of
the product in the way that works for the customer.
If they want data, why make them stare at testimonials? If
they want price, why make them sit through a flash demo?
If they’re ready to give you their money and get the
satisfaction of buying, why stop them suddenly and demand
a bunch of profile info? Which is more important to you,
their data or their purchase? Then, when you’ve laid the
perfect foundation, you close the sale. You don’t
have to just hope your customer will buy; in fact, you
can’t afford to.
like to make history rather than become history, right?
Then start at the beginning: take a hint from Eve’s
story and turn your site into an expert at Sales.
good friends at Future Now have one focus: helping
you increase your website sales conversion rate.
Check out their cool Customer Conversion Rate
calculator. And if that isn't cool enough, you can
get a whole suite of Digital Sales Tools by
email. Check out the "Free Resources"
of the Future
It’s Time to Go Beyond “Gee Whiz”
subway in New York City the other day, I overheard two
forty-somethings discussing the amazing development of
interactive computer games. They were waxing nostalgic
about old adventure games and shaking their heads 'cause
some of the stuff out there now looks almost like movies.
“Wow” has taken on a whole new dimension. I got to
musing the same can be said of the Internet. Pretty
awesome pretty quickly! But how much of that “awesome”
has translated into enough sales for you to turn a profit?
comes to using the Internet as a medium for sales, the
game isn't about the wow of technology or the wow of
design. It’s not even about the wow of marketing.
E-commerce companies that have focused on the “wow”
are going the way of the dodo, dying out faster than one
major player every day; nobody even knows how fast the
smaller ones are simply disappearing in silence. The time
has come to move beyond wide-eyed wonder and put an
emphatic wow into getting results. After all, if
e-commerce isn’t about making enough sales at a low
enough cost to turn a profit, why are you in it?
I know. Even now it's still hard for lots of folks to get
their minds around the idea the little screen on their
desk connects them to billions of other people all over
the globe. When the Internet was in its infancy (about
five whole years ago, give or take a day), folks were
incredibly "Gee whiz" about it. And rightly so.
Ain't technology grand? Used to be you could read
discussions about how the onslaught of folks using e-mail
was a misuse of bandwidth! Next we got “Cool
Site of the Day”. Lots of the sites they pick really
are fascinating and fun, even if you can’t always figure
out what they’re for. At least back at the beginning,
just seeing what folks could do was its own form of
entertainment - kinda like watching a little human
learning to walk.
then that kid got to moving in a direction, except it was
any direction. First there was, "We can use the web
to disseminate our ideas!" Then, "The web is
going to reach more people than any other medium we've
known." And then (drum roll, please): "Hey! We
can sell stuff on the web!" Commercial sites started
appearing right and left, created by the "Cool
Site" designers and programmers who discovered they
could find a paying niche in e-commerce. Yet the sites
they created weren't effective at selling at all. In
retrospect ask yourself, “How could they be?”
Is an expert in design an expert in sales? Is an
expert in programming an expert in sales?
(read that word again!), a huge number of those sites went
(and continue to go) belly up. Being resourceful, you guys
and gals looked for a solution. Since the sites had been
designed by “experts”, the problem couldn’t be with
the sites so it must be not enough traffic (or with those
stupid customers who refused to adapt to the sites). Time
to bring in the marketing experts. But (3 guesses what I’m
going to ask): is an expert in marketing an expert in
sales? And we all know by now, if we didn’t think about
it ahead of time, driving more traffic to a site that
can’t sell is worse than useless. You burn your
cash, you burn your prospects, and you burn your
reputation - otherwise it’s a wunnerful idea!
recap, the Internet has evolved through three stages: from
technology-centered to design-centered to
marketing-centered. It was all useful provided we learn
the lessons, and the fundamental lesson is successful
selling is not about design or technology or marketing, it’s
about sales. With a nod to Mark Twain: Everybody talks
about online sales but nobody does anything about it. In
fact, unless they’re pursued within the context
of the expert sales process, design, programming and
marketing can actually hurt your sales. If you’re
going to survive, much less prosper, your site must enter
Stage Four, it must become sales-centered .
And while you’re at it, trash the notion that the
Internet changes everything. It doesn't. Fundamental human
psychology is the same as it was, and the process of
coming to a “buy” decision is an emotional one. Your
customers want what they’ve always wanted: a safe,
simple, trustworthy, human-centered process to accomplish
the transactions they would otherwise complete in the
bricks and mortar world.
make the Internet really work for you? Start thinking
about how your site is going to replicate the time-tested,
psychological interaction between two people who are
involved in the sell / buy process. Leave the “gee whiz”
stuff for the avant-garde who dare to go where no one has
gone before. Most of your customers can’t follow and
have already provided plenty of hard shopping data that they
wouldn’t even if they could. And if those envelope
stretchers do discover anything that will actually
increase your sales, much less do so without breaking your
budget, I promise I’ll let you know!