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Mastering the Internet Sales Cycle

Your Business' Most Important Job

Many people seem to think that selling on the Internet is completely different from other types of sales. Many see the Web as its own entity instead of just another marketing channel.

When I hear people say they're going to start an "Internet business," I get a little worried. It's as if that's all they need to know — not what they're selling or who their customers are. When faxes first came out, did you hear people saying they were starting a "fax business"? Somehow, I doubt it.

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.

And mastering that process — mastering the sales cycle — is arguably your business' most important job.

However customer leads are generated, if you don't follow up with them and move them through the sales cycle, your business is likely to falter.

But, once you learn to work that process, it can work like magic!

So, what exactly is the Internet sales cycle, and how can you make sure you're managing yours effectively?

Your Path to Online Profits

The sales cycle has been described in a variety of ways, and to some degree the process depends on the media involved.

Perhaps the easiest way to describe the sales cycle — and the one most applicable to your online success — is to use the analogy of looking for a romantic partner to divide the cycle into a series of simple steps:

  1. Prepare Yourself and Target the Right Person

    Whether you're going to a social event to meet members of the opposite sex or selling products or services, the first thing you need to do is prepare.

    You probably wouldn't go to a dive bar on the wharf looking for a date who likes cosmopolitans and the symphony. And you wouldn't have much success picking up someone from a historical society meeting if you showed up in cut-offs and a tank-top. Before you go out, you need to prepare yourself and know the type of person you're looking to find.

    In sales, before you do anything else you must become thoroughly familiar with your product, your market, your competition, and your prospect. You must qualify your leads, whenever, wherever, and however possible.

    Who are you looking for? Your answer should match your ideal client or customer. 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 people. 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. Make a Good "First Impression"

    Once you meet someone you're interested in, in order to have any hope of starting a relationship with them you must make a good first impression. This is as true for business and sales as it is for romance, whether online or offline.

    You have about 30 seconds to grab your prospect's attention so they'll give you two or three minutes of their time. You have to be compelling enough to make them stop what they're thinking about and concentrate on you. And the best way to do that? Paradoxical as it may seem, you must focus on them!
  3. Get an Invitation to Continue

    If you've made a good first impression, chances are your romantic interest will respond favorably to an invitation to continue the conversation or meet again another time. Make sure you get their contact information and consent to follow up!

    In online sales, once you've found who you're looking for — or, more accurately, they've found you — you need to get them in your "sales funnel." On the Web, that means get them on your list. The best way to make this easy is to offer something of value for free, such as a free e-zine or e-course.

    On your website, getting visitors on your list should be your first 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 your visitor a bazillion choices? If so, ditch the clutter and give them a compelling invitation to sign up for your e-zine.
  4. Relationship Building

    You can consider this the "dating stage." Here you extend your first impression by building rapport, respect, and trust with your prospect. In order to do this successfully, you must make every effort to understand your prospects needs accurately and respond accordingly.

    Marketing studies have consistently shown that your prospects need to be exposed to your message at least 9 times before they'll take action!

    In traditional sales, real people have to follow up with their prospects via live meetings, phone calls, or postal mailings … over and over and over. But the Internet makes all this easy, instant, practically free, and … automatic.

    This is where e-zines, e-courses, and similar schemes work like a charm, following up for you automatically. In fact, Kethyr Solutions can help you create an e-mail campaign and schedule messages up to two years in advance! It's like putting your marketing on auto-pilot, so you can "set it and forget it."
  5. Make Your Pitch

    Here's where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Assuming you've done your job to this point, you have your prospect's attention and they like what you have to say and have done for them thus far. But this doesn't mean they're convinced that going back to your place is the right idea! Your custom-tailored sales pitch should convince them of exactly why they should.

    The goal of your e-zine, e-course, or other funneling device should be to drive your prospect to buying the products and services you're offering. 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.

    Your sales pitch must identify a problem, quantify it, and show how your product or service can solve it. Pricing should be related to the problem solved. In other words, create a financial justification for purchasing your product and for purchasing it now. This helps to keep the prospect emotionally energized and engaged.

    Most people make the mistake of trying to sell from e-mail. That is, drive them straight from the e-mail to taking out their wallet. This is usually ineffective for two reasons: 1) you don't have the room in an e-mail to fully explain what you're selling and demonstrate its value; 2) selling this way can turn people off who aren't ready to buy yet, and you'll lose those prospects from your list.

    The idea of the e-mail is to get your prospect excited about your offering and to get them to click a link. Once they click, they're taken to a sales page that you set up specifically for the 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.
  6. Handling Objections

    No matter how interested your prospect is in consummating their relationship with you, it's likely you'll need to overcome one or more objections before they're ready to do so. If you've done your work in steps one and four, you should already know what these objections will be and how best to overcome them.

    This step is actually part of making your sales pitch, but it's important enough to call attention to on its own. Make sure your sales argument covers all of your prospect's possible objections before they make them and you'll likely win them over.
  7. "Closing" the Sale

    Once you've overcome your prospect's objections, completing the sale shouldn't be a problem. However, it never hurts to remind them one more time how this is in their best interest and why there's no better time than the present.

    Also, just because you've gotten your prospect this far doesn't mean you're home free. Many online sales are unnecessarily lost due to unintuitive shopping carts and other ordering issues.

    Make sure you offer your prospects a seamless ordering experience once they've clicked your "Order Now" button. Offer them the conveniences they expect (payment options, shipping methods, etc.) and make sure your ordering system is easy to use and fully-functional.
  8. Assure Satisfaction

    The sales cycle doesn't stop with a successful close. If yours does, you're throwing away the potential for a long-term relationship and all the sales associated with it!

    Follow up regularly, make sure your customer was satisfied beyond their expectations, find out what you can do better next time, and repeat the cycle.
  9. Upsell, and Upsell Again

    Just as most romantic relationships stagnate without new experiences, little romantic surprises, and continual growth, so do most business relationships.

    One of the most common mistakes new online businesses make is only having one product or service available. Once someone buys it, there's nothing left to sell them. That means having 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.

    Once you've started building a list and successfully selling your product or service, you'll likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of valuable customers who know, like, and trust you. If they've already purchased a product from you that they're happy with, find out what else they want!

    This is the strategy that allows successful online businesses to churn out valuable new products and programs that their customers eat up like crazy. This is the strategy that can grow your business exponentially, taking you from a few hundred or thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars each month!

Practice May Make Perfect, But Nothing Beats Having a Professional Coach

The sales cycle is pretty simple, yes? Based on this model, you can probably see the missing links in your own Internet sales cycle.

That having been said, you can be sure that mastering the sales cycle takes time! It won't happen overnight. We don't believe in get-rich-quick schemes, and we're not selling them.

If you're new to the process, we recommend starting with one product. It makes learning the 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.

Have patience, keep learning, fill in these gaps, and you'll start to see the magic work for you.

If you'd like to speed up your learning curve or have a professional review your sales cycle, don't hesitate to contact us today. There's no faster or better way to learn than to have an expert looking over your shoulder and offering the assistance you need when and where you need it most.

Beyond merely surviving, businesses that master the sales cycle have a competitive edge that allows them to produce consistent results and significantly outperform the competition.

Now you know what it takes to master the sales cycle. Practice, get help, put the system to work, and let it start working for you!

Contact Kethyr Solutions today for more information or call us toll-free at 888-538-4971.

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