In this modern world it doesn’t take a geek like me to convince local businesses and advertisers that they need to utilize the internet to interact with their customers. Small businesses across America who don’t have the resources to hire experts struggle each day to keep up with the best practices in online advertising; but what about the sales people? 14.5 Million Americans work in sales. In this fast as light (or Facebook) world how should sales reps be using these online tools to build their client list, customer retention, and generally increase productivity and reach? Today I want to outline a clear strategy for today’s modern sales person.
The Three Sales Objectives:
- The first objective is to increase the total number of customers. Building your prospect funnel to eventually increase your client base will always be one of the strongest ways to increase your check.
- Secondly we need to increase retention. Maintaining the customers you have in their current buy is crucial to your overall efforts. It doesn’t take very long in the sales profession before you realize that keeping customers is easier than getting new ones but the littlest neglect can lose you customers very quickly.
- Your third objective is to increase the buy per customer. Driving each of your customers to give you a greater part of their total budget/buy is sales 101. Up sale the customer to the next promotion, the next product, or the next product category and you will increase your total billing without too much more effort.
The Four Online Activities:
- Build an online presence. At a minimum expense you could obtain a complete website. In a society where high school students are trained to build websites it may cost you a lot less than you think to have a professional presence online. Build the website in blog form allowing you to post new information on a regular basis. If you are too cheap to pay for a website I suggest you turn to a free blogging platform such as Blogspot or WordPress.
- Create valuable content. Ask yourself what type of content your current and potential customers need. What expertise do you have to share that would both educate your customer and drive them to buy more of your product? If you want to create a loyal following you must develop high quality content. This is where the blogging begins. Share success stories from current clients that are designed to give your client ideas and encourage them to do more business with you. It’s ok to recycle articles, news, etc. If you have access to industry updates, news, etc you can just share that information with your readers/clients. No need to rewrite everything. Just post your opinion about the information and give credit to the original source. Remember that your goal is to create high leverage online activities. The less man hours you have to put into it the better.
- Build a list. On your site create an “opt-in” form that allows site visitors to choose to receive your newsletters. Also ask your existing customers permission to add them to your e-newsletters. Newsletters should be sent less frequently than blog posts. If you blog once per week you may send a newsletter every month. If you blog monthly you might send a newsletter every quarter. Utilize the newsletter to share industry news or share your insight into the market changes. This is your opportunity to show your expertise and create a raving fan that will always turn to you when they have a need within your product/service industry. Ask around about different economic email marketing services you can utilize to serve the emails. See resources below.
- Syndicate Your Content. There is no need to spend all your time sending links and messages on Facebook and Twitter. This is NOT a productive activity. If you want to connect with clients and potential clients on the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that’s ok but don’t add the time burden to your day. Since you are already writing content on your blog make sure to automatically feed your blog posts into Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social networks you feel would be beneficial. Share news stories, industry research, etc on the social networks as well. Utilize a service such as Hootsuite.com or Ping.fm to post to all your networks at once. Both of these services also offer mobile solutions to allow you to share on the go from your phone.
The Five Rules:
- How often you blog isn’t nearly as important as how consistently you blog. Start out slow, maybe posting a new blog once per month; slowly increase as you become more comfortable. Get in a groove so that your audience can come to expect a certain type of content and frequency.
- Online marketing is a long term, low cost investment. Don’t expect to get fast results. Be consistent over time and only commit to a plan that you are willing to execute over time.
- If your audience grows large enough you will be able to monetize your online presence. You will be able to sell ad space on both the site and on your e-newsletters.
- Be personable. Nobody wants to do business with a robot. Your online content needs to reflect both professionalism and personality.
- Get the help of an expert and continue your online education. Subscribe to my blog and the blogs of other internet marketing gurus. Reading the blogs of internet marketers provides free ongoing training.
- The three most popular online email marketing systems are iContact, ConstantContact, and Aweber. They each charge based on the size of your contact list. The links in this article will give you a free trial of any of them. Also, let me suggest MyEmailProgram.com which is a new product on the market that is both feature rich and more economic. There are two reasons why you use software like this in place of just a contact group in Outlook. Firstly because it will facilitate automatic signups from your website and secondly because it will track which people open your email, when they open it, and what links within the email they click on.