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Digital selling may seem revolutionary but it is not. It is just that today’s technology has now made it easier for salespeople to do what they should have been doing all along. That is to say, increasing your sales by following the correct sales steps.
Let’s face it, most people, including you, probably hate Selling. Even salespeople hate selling at times! Yet every business large or small has to SELL! Even if you think your product is so good that it will sell itself, you still have to sell one way or another. Good salespeople seem to be hard to come buy and they are almost worth their weight in gold.
Why do people hate selling?
Well, some might argue that they hate cold calling, but is it the cold calling they hate or the rejection? It’s a little easier when the appointment has been set but even here, there is a high rate of failure and thus a feeling of rejection. Then there is the high pressure to close the deal. With low closing rates, increasing pressure to deliver and the resultant risk of having to find a new job, it becomes easier to understand why few people enjoy selling. As a business owner who has to sell, the concern increases even further as ‘job loss’ becomes ‘closed business’.
So what are the correct steps to selling? How do they relate to Digital Selling and the reasons why people hate selling?
Before we go into the sequence of actions that should be followed to bring about a closed sale, it is important to take a look at how customer trends and modern technology seem to have given the consumer the upper hand when it comes to the sales process.
The Online Business Boom
The Internet has over a period of decades become a much richer place in terms of media content. Website’s have become more visually rich while thousands of ‘Social Network’ websites have mushroomed. Obvious examples, and of particular interest to businesses are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest, and the list goes on.
At the same time, Internet access has grown as rapidly as technology has evolved. First we had the trusty, but immobile, desktop computer, then the more portable laptop, this was followed by the highly mobile tablet PC, and now we have the ultra-portable Smartphone.
While all these devices are still in use and continue to advance, it is the most mobile devices that are rapidly shaping how businesses interact with potential customers online. This growth in access has, of course, presented smart, forward thinking companies and individuals with many more business opportunities and moved traditional selling towards digital selling.
At the same time, the increase in ‘noise’ from millions of companies and people trying to get their own messages across has seen consumers ‘tuning out’ and trying to reduce marketing messages.
The Shift in Marketing
One of the biggest changes on the Internet occurred with the rise of social networks. Coupled with increasingly accessible Smartphone technology, the way people access the Internet has shifted. Now millions of people can connect to their favourite social network from just about anywhere and at any time.
The opportunity social media represents for businesses has come with the need to adapt how businesses market. Social media is ‘social’, adverts and obvious marketing messages generally do not go down well, especially when high in volume. Here we have the beginning of the idea that today’s consumer has the upper hand and so a new approach was needed.
Enter Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing has at its core, the idea that one must attract people rather than interrupt them in order to get messages across. To do this, Inbound Marketing utilises large amounts of content in the form of blog articles, micro-blogging (social posts), high-value downloadable content, webinars, video etc.
Inbound or attraction marketing has produced considerable positive results and when done well it produces excellent returns on investment. In its early days, Inbound Marketing was even hailed as the end of Outbound or interruption marketing. However even Inbound marketers are realising this is not the case. Inbound marketing is a vital marketing strategy and in many ways, it is at the heart of Digital Selling. However, it is not the only marketing strategy.
While it has a long list of pros, inbound marketing does have drawbacks. For one, it usually takes longer to see results as it takes time not only to create great content but it can take a long time to distribute it broadly enough that it gets found by a large enough audience.Thus, outbound marketing methods remain valuable and needed as they are able to reach large audiences relatively quickly.
The above can really be discussed at length and in future posts I probably will do just that. For the purposes of this article, the main thing is that you are aware of Inbound and Outbound marketing and their relation to today’s empowered consumer.
Now let us get back to Digital Selling. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned correct ‘sales steps’ and the fact that most people would get sweaty palms if they were told they had to sell. I have also alluded to the idea that consumers, who are seen to have the upper hand, might not after all.
The Process of Selling
There is a definite sequence of steps to be followed when it comes to selling. For decades books about selling and sales experts have covered these steps. However, certain steps seem to have been emphasised more than others and often steps have been left out.
Of the steps that have been left out, by far the most common is, ‘Deliver’. This is probably the single step that has given salespeople and selling a bad name. The fact is, a sale is only truly complete once you have delivered on your promises.
The fact that consumers seem to have the upper hand arises due to their ability to research and learn about products online. They now have the power of choice and can compare multiple offerings before deciding to buy. This power also comes from the fact that you have to really earn Internet savvy consumers’ trust before they will buy. While some may argue that this means they have the upper hand. I would say they have entered into more of an equal partnership with marketers and salespeople. This partnership is where Digital Selling comes into play.
Digital Selling is not so much about marketing and selling using only online tools, like social media and websites. Rather Digital Selling is a way of combining old and new marketing and sales tools and methods holistically in a digital age. It is about selling with the consumer in mind rather than just ‘closing the deal’.
I hear you say, ‘”What about the ‘steps of selling’ you keep mentioning?” I have not forgotten about the sales steps. It is just that they are too important to be given a mere ‘mention’. All the steps of selling are important. From your first point of contact to handling objections and getting the contract signed.
Selling is not necessarily what you think it is.Once you understand it, selling really can become enjoyable, if not thrilling.
If you want to know more about Digital Selling and how the right selling steps can increase your sales then keep an eye out for my follow-up article.
In the meantime, I value your thoughts, ideas and questions, so please do leave your comments.
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Image Credit: Copyright: highwaystarz / 123RF Stock Photo
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