Bill has posted his Luther-esque thesis on the doors of the blogosphere with this post on 26 reasons why I love marketing. My three favorites:
- The best people I know are marketers
- I understand the phrase “Having a Purple Cow who Zags in a Blue Ocean”
- It’s better then being beat with a bag of oranges
Check out it out share your favorites.
Many times, our experience with a company can really be summed up in our individual experience with the company’s salesperson. We’ve all had the pleasure of working with great sales reps, and we’ve all worked with really sucky ones. Though the list is unlimited, I’m sure, here are five quick traits I’ve noticed in sales pros, and how the good ones treat it way differently than the bad ones.
Great sales reps have disciplined themselves to appreciate both the power of networking and the power of the sales cycle. Of course, every rep would love for a sale to close within a week every time, which is normally the expectation of the bad sales rep. But that’s not reality, and in the long run, it’s not as profitable. Great reps embrace the process, seeing it as an opportunity to simply increase their contact and opportunities to solve problems for the prospect. More times than not, it also leads to more referrals, both during and after the process. In addition, the customer almost always appreciates the patience.
A confident sales person produces a confident customer. The more I perceive that the person I’m buying from is confident in what he’s selling and what he’s saying, the more confident I feel in my decision to buy. Inversely, it’s also important to note that confidence and cockiness are in no way the same. Cocky is never attractive, but confidence, in the words of Jack Palance, is very sexy, don’t you think?
Salesmen who make a promise and then do it are actually doing the one thing that separates them from the rest the most. Those that exceed expectations are going from good to great. Whether a customer likes it or not, they want some amount of hand-holding during the buying process. They might want it going on behind the scenes, but every customer appreciates being looked out for. When a salesman grabs a bit of info specific to a customer, or gives a call when a similar product is now on sale, a connection is made with the customer.
Both good and bad salespeople follow-up. But it’s how they follow-up that splits them into two distinct groups. The follow-up performed by bad sales reps more closely resembles badgering, with a twist of annoying telemarketing. They litter your voice mail box throughout the day. They create a false sense of urgency that anyone can see through. They multiply their efforts at the end of the month, clearly trying to close this sell so it hits their next commission check. The good reps follow-up with a spirit of adding value to the customer. They don’t badger, but they do check in. They make sure the prospective customer knows they’re available when needed, and at some point communicate that the ball is in the customer’s court. Most importantly, because they’re confident (and successful), they know a single sale can neither make them nor break them, so it’s OK if you don’t buy now, or ever. Even better, they embrace the opportunity to follow-up with you for years to come, if you’re OK with it, even if you don’t buy.
Maybe this would be better communicated as “prepared.” The diligent, prepared salesperson has all their ducks in a row before you show up. They’ve taken any next step items and gotten answers to all of them since you last spoke, even if it’s still a TBD. They simplify the paperwork, explain the paperwork, and bring up points they know you probably haven’t considered, even if it could become an obstacle. They’re up-front and on top of things, again giving you reason enough to relax, feeling you’ve made a connection with someone more like a partner than a salesman.
What else makes for a salesperson that customers actually want to work with? How do you develop the skills if they don’t come naturally?
Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:
- 5 Reasons Multiple Sales Channels Work
- Sales Tactics I Don’t Understand
Forbes magazine has published a fairly interesting article on where the profits are, and where they ain’t, in small business (< $10 mil. a year).
Thanks to Up the Ladder for pointing the way.
So, in extremely short form (I promise, the article is worth reading), here’s the list based on pre-tax profit margin averages.
The Most Profitable Small Businesses:
- Accounting services – I guess it pays to love spreadsheets.
- Legal services – I guess it pays to figure out ways to bend the rules.
- Dental services – Didn’t Seinfeld once wonder if they were actual doctors, then fell victim to a horrible “anti-Dentite” label?
- Designers – They make it a broad category – interior design, architects, graphic designers – but it’s still good news for all you freelancers.
- “Other” health professionals – like chiropractors.
- Outpatient care – It seems like there’s a new one popping up on another corner every other weekend in Dallas (along with nail salons).
- Insurance brokers – I really have nothing to say about this.
- Doctors – Surprisingly low, actually, but I guess they shell it out in payroll and insurance.
- Medical and Diagnostic Labs – Couldn’t they have put all the health businesses in one category?
- Depository Credit Intermediary – This one is surprising, and ironic. People who help people with their credit troubles are one of the most profitable small businesses you can start.
The Least Profitable Small Businesses to Start:
- Community Care Facilities – high payrolls, run by Medicare, Medicaid and a shortage in nurses
- “Other Support” Services – OK, that’s a little broad, but this goes mostly to all those services that are in highly competitive fields where the low price always wins.
- Beverage Manufacturers – includes soft drinks, juices and wineries, where there are so many competitors that the new guy can’t cut through.
- Real Estate Related Services – the market is down, what more needs to be said?
- Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing – huh?
- Recreation and Amusement Centers – gyms, ski resorts, etc. High, high payroll just to keep it open.
- Auto Vehicle Parts Manufacturing – again, only the low-cost wins, and there can only be one of those.
- Specialty Retailers – your niche markets like music stores. Yes, Big Box retailers are taking over here, but at the same time, if you can really, really nail the niche in a location that wants it, I actually think specialty retail could be very profitable. But that’s a lot of ifs.
- Alcohol resellers – kinda surprises me. You’d think this is a high profit, high traffic business, with relatively little needs for manpower. Maybe it’s the extensive inventory necessary to be open that actually makes you close.
- Hotels – If a room ain’t filled, they ain’t making money. That’s why there’s really no such thing as a set rate these days.
Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:
- Why Businesses Have To Leverage Web 2.0
- Which Websites Get the Most of Our Time?
Visiting MarketingCharts.com to find data on one specific area can be as deadly as opening a bag of Ruffles with the intention of just eating one chip: before you know it, it’s an hour later and the whole bag is empty.
In my most recent visit to the buffet, I came across their chart for the Top 10 Online Retailers by Conversion Rate. Conversion is what it’s all about, which makes this list extra special. Here is the list of companies, with my admittedly first glance reaction to why and how they made the list.
- The Popcorn Factory: They’ve done a great job of making popcorn a popular gift (especially if it’s sugary or cheesy), and it’s become a favorite corporate gift (just think of how many tubs of popcorn you see around the office come Christmas-time). Plus, just based on their current site, they have clear and urgent calls to action.
- L.L. Bean: The crowning jewel of catalog marketing, it’s apparently translated well into online sales. No doubt that a majority of the shopping is still done via printed catalog, and orders are then placed online, which might explain for the high conversion.
- Abebooks: I must admit that abebooks.com has been virgin territory for me until this chart prompted me to check it out. It seems to be a great site for buying and selling books, with its M.O. being that you get access to what 13,500 booksellers are peddling – Abebooks just handles the order. It appears that the cash cow for them is textbook selling, as their traffic and obviously conversion rise and fall with the beginning and ends of semesters.
- Hollister Co.: This is what you might call the Abercrombie of the web. Surfer clothes and hip jeans abound on this college-targeted site.
- Amazon.com: Hey, it’s Amazon. What more do you have to say?
- Land’s End: I like this site’s design. Clean and clear, people know what they’re going to Land’s End for. Again, another direct/catalog-driven business model.
- Coldwater Creek: Clothing for women, which is code for I really have no authority to even attempt a description. Except they, too, appear to be catalog driven.
- QVC: The darling of the home shopping world, QVC sells anything, but they appear to thrive in fashion, beauty and clothing. Their business model drives sales via 6-minute infomercials all day long, driving people to the phones and to the web. Through some of my own experiences with them, their minimum goal is for each segment to drive $50k in sales. Now that starts adding up.
- Cabela’s: The world’s foremost outfitter is also one of the foremost drivers in website conversions. Originally driven by one store in Colorado (or was it Nebraska . . . ) and catalogs, they’ve expanded their retail outlets and are going head to head with Bass Pro Shops. Their traffic charts show a huge spike in December, translating into it becoming a new no-brainer gift haven for Dad come Christmas, as well as the online favorite over Bass Pro.
- Gymboree: I’m not sure exactly how they drive traffic, but my guess is via gift registry for new babies. The web has definitely made “shower-shopping” a much more pleasant event.
A few overall observations:
- Looking at the types of companies in the top 10, I don’t think there’s any question that communication tools outside of the web such as catalogs and TV shows are making web sales easier. Which makes sense, considering that these people are visiting your site with the purpose to purchase, not to shop. The catalog has already convinced them of what they need, so now they prefer the simplicity of the web to seal the deal.
- Knowing that visitors are coming to the site with a clear purpose in mind (e.g., “I want that dang fishing pole”), the up-sell/cross-sell potential on these site must be huge . . . if it can be made seamless.
- Traffic varies on these sites, from the Popcorn Factory logging in just over 50k visitors in December, to Amazon racking up more than 60 million. At a 17.6% conversion rate, that means Amazon got a minimum of 10.5 million orders in December alone!
Posted in Marketing, Stats and Resources, Web Marketing
Tagged Business, eCommerce, Internet Marketing, Internet Retailing, Lists, Marketing, Resources, Stats, Technology, Top 10, Web Conversion, Web Design, Web Traffic