by Alexandria Brown
Many people seem to think that selling on the Internet is a complete mystery. Funny how we see the Net as its own entity instead of just another marketing channel.
When I meet people and they say they’re going to start an “Internet business”, I get worried. It’s as if that’s all they need to know — not what they’re selling or who their customers are. (I mean, when faxes first came out, did you hear people saying they were just starting a “fax business”? Not really.)
The Internet is just one type of media that can sell for your business, and it follows a sales cycle like any other. It’s not magic … it’s a process.
But once you WORK that process, it CAN work like magic!
So let’s look at the five basic parts of the Internet sales cycle:
1. Collect Leads
Who are you looking for? Your answer should match your ideal client or customer. (Please don’t say that’s “everybody”!) Do you market to women? Men? What ages? What professions? Certain areas of the country or world? What publications do they read? What interests do they have?
The answers to these questions will help you determine where and how you can find these folks. There are tons of ways to get leads online: search engines, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, articles, blogs, directories, and other types of advertising and promotions.
2. Get Them in Your Funnel
Once you’ve found who you’re looking for, you need to get them in your “sales funnel”. On the Internet, that means get them on your list. The best way to make this easy is to offer a free ezine or e-course.
On your website, getting visitors on your list should be your #1 objective! Why? Up to 99% of your first-time visitors will not buy from you or even contact you. They’ll take a quick look and then click away, and you’ve lost them forever. These people are already valuable prospects — they took the time to find your site and are interested in the subject matter or products you deal with. Does your home page or landing page give the visitor a bazillion choices? If so, ditch the clutter and give them a compelling invitation to sign up for your ezine or e-course.
3. Follow Up
Marketing studies have always shown that your prospects need to be exposed to your message at least 9 times before they’ll take action! (Some say it takes even more times on the Internet.)
In traditional sales, real people had to follow up with their prospects via live meetings, phone calls, or postal mailings… over and over and over. What a lot of work! But the Internet makes all this easy, instant, practically free, and … automatic.
This is where your ezine or e-course works like a charm, following up for you automatically. In fact, with many of the programs available today, you can schedule email messages up to two years away! It’s like putting your marketing on auto-pilot, so you can just “set it and forget it”!
4. Close the Sale
The goal of your ezine or e-course should be to drive the reader to buying what you have. Of course you’re also providing useful content and information — that’s why they got on your list, and that’s why they’ll stay on your list. But your underlying objective is to make more sales.
Most people make the mistake of trying to sell from the actual email. That is, drive them straight from the email to taking out their wallet. This is usually not effective for two reasons: 1) you don’t have the room in an email to fully explain what you’re selling and demonstrate its value to the prospect, 2) it can turn people off who aren’t ready to buy yet, and you’ll lose those prospects from your list.
The idea of the email is to get them excited about your offering and to get them to CLICK.
Once they click, they’re taken to a sales page that you set up specifically for that product or service you’re promoting. It’s THERE that the prospect will get the full scoop on how great it is, why they need it, how much it costs, how to order, etc.
5. Upsell, and Upsell Again
Here’s the biggest mistake I made when I started to sell my first information product online (Boost Business With Your Own Ezine): It was the ONLY product I had to offer for 2 whole years! So once anyone bought it, I had nothing else in my funnel to sell them. (Marketers also call this having a “back end” product.) That meant I had to work extra hard at finding new prospects all the time.
Smart salespeople know it’s much easier to sell to people who have already bought from you than to constantly go out and find new prospects.
I finally realized I already had thousands of valuable customers who knew, liked, and trusted me. They’d already purchased a product from me that they were happy with. So I learned more about WHAT ELSE they wanted.
That’s when I began churning out valuable new products and programs that my customers ate up like crazy. And that strategy took me from sales of less than 5,000 dollars a month to these days averaging 50,000 dollars a month!
Now, that didn’t happen overnight! In fact, I recommend starting with ONE product like I did. It makes learning this entire process much easier, and your results will come faster. Once you get the system down, you can start adding more valuable offerings to your prospects and customers.
Learn It, Work It, Live It
Pretty simple, yes? Based on this model, you may see the missing links in your own Internet sales cycle. Have patience, keep learning, fill in these gaps, and you’ll start to see the magic work for you.
© 2005-2008 Alexandria Brown International Inc.
Online entrepreneur Alexandria K. Brown publishes the award-winning ‘Highlights on Marketing & Success’ weekly ezine with 30,000+ subscribers. If you’re ready to jump-start your marketing, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your FREE tips now at www.AlexandriaBrown.com