Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Relationship Marketing -To Sell or Not to Sell

Internet Marketing for Newbies - A Series of Articles Written from a Newbies Perspective

Relationship Marketing - To Sell or Not to Sell

Please let me introduce myself. While I acknowledge that I am new to the internet world, I have over 30 years experience in Sales and Marketing. I am a qualified trainer in Customer Service and have had an extremely successful sales career in the offline world. I am now pursuing the opportunities to make money with a home based internet business.

So why am I writing this? I am frankly fed up with the so called ebooks that sell for outrageous amounts of money (money that a newbie can ill afford) promising the next great Marketing Secret to launch your home based internet business. There is no secret, just simple techniques and with years of accumulated experience I know that anyone can apply this information to their unique situation and I want to share it with all of you "FREE".

So back to the original question, "To Sell or Not to Sell" and of course the correct response is NOT TO SELL! What, not to sell, are you crazy Jackie. The whole point of our internet business is to sell, sell, sell. Yes and No!

Let me explain, of course the ultimate aim is to make money, otherwise there would be no point in doing business on the net. But what you should focus on is building relationships. Where there is a relationship, there is no competition. I would like to share a real life story with you. It happened in the offline world but the lesson is relevant to your online business.

A few years ago I had a contract with a very large private technology training college. My title was Admissions Counsellor ( a fancy name for Sales Counsellor) and my job was to pre-screen applicants for admittance to the college, or in other words, sell them a seat in our training program. The commission structure was very lucritive and I made good money.

To put things into perspective for you, I very quickly was ranked in the top ten of sales associates (out of 70+) and in my fourth month I received a commission cheque in the amount of $12,000.00 and did this without selling a single client. How could this be!

Very simple, really. No big secret here, I did what all smart marketing people do -


Ok, Jackie, but how did you achieve this, words are great but show us the method that you used.

Here is a step-by-step roadmap that anyone can follow:

  1. Believe in your product - you must personally have used and tested the product you are selling - I studied and learned everything that I could about the courses that the college was selling and when I didn't have an answer I didn't try to wing it, I researched until I found the answer. I learned the lingo of the business, took the same courses (well I tried, I'm afraid the programming and network specialist courses were abit over my head)
  2. First impressions count - The office must be neat, organized, pleasant, welcoming, well lit, I always had a bowl of candy on my desk, translate this information to your webpages, the philosophy is the exact same
  3. You must present your product with passion and enthusiasm - there must be an energy about the presentation to engage the client and make them beleive what you beleive
  4. Know your competition - you must research, research and again research in order to know as much about your competitors product as your own. When the objections start to come up and believe me they will, you will have all of the answers at your finger tips. Very few people in sales will take the time and effort to do this work, it will impress your clients.
  5. You must be ethical - under no circumstances should you make false claims about what you are selling, if your product has any shortcomings don't lie about them to close the sale, it will come back to bite you in the butt! Instead try to make a positive out of it - for example; our courses had a higher cost than the competition but our graduates had a higher hire rate upon graduation, so when the question of cost arose, I always used this example. After all, what is the objective of the student; to graduate and get a job.
  6. Listen to your clients - you must genuinely want what is best for the customer and sometimes it means not making the sale; I turned away or strongly dissuaded many potential sales because our course was not a good match for them. I can tell you that the client appreciates the honesty and the referral business that I got was the highest in the company (28 campuses). I also had the lowest attrition rate of 70+ counsellors. Sometimes not making the sale puts more money in your pocket, you are not constantly refunding unhappy customers.
  7. Reccomend that the client check out the competiton - what, I can hear it now, are you crazy, send them to the competition - it works, beleive me, the other guy is so busy selling them that the client finds it refreshing that you believe so much in your product that you would send them away to research other options - it is called negative sales and it works wonders. I know, it sounds abit scary to let them out of your sight, but my conversion rate again was one of the highest in the company. Don't forget that you have already checked out the competition so you might even want to recommend a few names (the ones who you know are not at good as yours, nothing unethical about that).
  8. Never present a negative image - never badmouth the competition, encourage research to gather all of the facts, if you don't know something don't make things up, be professional about yourself and the presentation of your product at all times, accept that sometimes things go wrong and instead of pointing fingers or passing the buck, fix the problem or make sure that the right person fixes the problem
  9. Follow-up after the sale - always get in touch with the client shortly after the sale to make sure that they are satisfied and use the opportunity to build a bridge for future add-ons. In the college I schedualed weekly meetings with all of my students and discussed any issues and concerns that they may have encounterd. This provided them with the confidence that someone was always available to hear them out.
  10. Provide added value - All of the students were presented with free back-packs with the college logo on them ( great free advertising), we held monthly contests for the best attendance, marks, attitude; once a month we supplied free pizza to the students, I established a monthly campus newsletter, ect. you get the picture, evrybody loves something for free. So here's your freebie:

My focus was always to make the best experience for the students and I was awarded for two consecutive years the prestigeous "Student Satisfaction Award".

I hope that this helps you and you can translate this information to your online business. I welcome your comments and would welcome your story to share with my readers.

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself. - Chinese proverb

Written by
Jackie Bigford
Relationship Marketing

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