by Calvin Cox on October 19, 2009
As we depend on the web more and more to sell our product or service, it’s important that we take the things that have worked for us offline and implement them online . When selling was done on the streets with a briefcase or vacuum cleaner in hand, it took years of trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Now that the process has been somewhat perfected, it makes sense to transfer those methods to our online efforts. There are 6 key steps in the sales process:
1) Prospecting – The act of finding the right clients or customers to sell your product or service (Target Demographics).
2) Contact – The actual contact you make with a potential client, either in person, on the phone, email, snail mail or on the web.
3) Sales Presentation – The sales pitch, tour or description of your product or service and the explanation of why it’s the right product for your potential clients.
4) Handling Objections – Objections are the reasons why your client or customer will not buy your product, whether it’s the price, time or quality of your product or service.
5) Closing the Sale – Closing the sale is the summary of the benefits of your product/service and finalizing payment options or service agreements.
6) Follow-up/Service – Following up after the sale by checking in to make sure the product is working correctly or servicing the product.
These are the steps your sales process will most likely follow whether you’re selling an actual product or looking for new clients. Having a blueprint of these steps can be an asset when looking to increase your sales conversion rates.
With that said, your design portfolio website should embody the essence of these six steps in order to take full advantage of every user that visits your design portfolio website. Here are some suggestions on how you can implement these offline techniques in order to be more effective online.
OFFLINE: Prospecting offline usually includes lots of cold calling, showing up at potential clients offices… sometimes unannounced, sending out mailers and promotional offers, etc.
ONLINE: Prospecting online includes various social networking activities, blogging, search engine optimization, email newsletter subscriptions, email campaigns, and other inbound marketing techniques.
OFFLINE: An initial contact offline can be made through a cold call either on the phone or in person, a response to a promotional mailer, or email reply to information sent to your potential customers.
ONLINE: An initial contact online refers to a website visit by a potential client, someone sending you a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, connecting with you through instant message (IM), or leaving a comment on your personal or business blog.
OFFLINE: The Sales presentation is your sales pitch about your product or service which includes a description of the product and benefits to your potential clients.
ONLINE: An online sales pitch or presentation can be tricky to master since you’re not personally guiding your visitors through your website, so your website needs to be set up to do exactly that. To get an idea of how a client might search your website read “10 decisions your clients will make before hiring you“. Most People don’t have the time to figure out how to navigate your website. It’s important to make your website intuitive enough that your visitors conduct their own tour of your design portfolio. Ana Garcia, a 3d Designer on Styleapple does a great job of introducing her design portfolio and giving potential clients a tour of her work and design expertise.
OFFLINE: Handling objections is a skill that will close many deals for you. To effectively handle objections you must answer all the questions your potential clients have way before you ask them to sign a contract or get their credit card number.
ONLINE: Handling objections online is simply answering the questions your visitors have in the very beginning. For example: What does it cost (Provide a general price list for projects, i.e. Print Work, Illustration Work, Branding, etc) What kind of work have you done in the past (Showcase of previous projects or client recommendations) What tools do you use ? (PHP, Mysql, Adobe Photoshop, Ruby, Illustrator, Dreamweaver,etc). BTW, a great way to handle objections online is by integrating a live chat button on your website incase a client has a quick question for you.
CLOSING THE SALE
OFFLINE: Closing the sale offline is the summary of the benefits of your product/service and the moment you ask for their credit card number or signature on your service agreement.
ONLINE: Closing the sale online happens the moment your website visitor fills out your contact form, contacts you on Skype, initiate a live chat session, email or give you a direct phone call. It’s important to have multiple ways of contact, so your clients can reach you in a format convenient to them.
OFFLINE: Follow-up/Service is where you keep your clients happy and build your referral base. Performing any necessary service to make sure your product is working correctly or being there to answer questions or concerns.
ONLINE: Follow-up/Service online includes detailed updates on current project progress. Having them subscribe to your blog, connecting with them on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. and having them subscribe to your monthly newsletter where you can share promotions, design advice and request referrals.
The truth is, you have a small window to close the deal. Just like selling offline, you have a small window in which to get your client’s attention. Guide them carefully through the sales process, manage their objections and get them to contact you either by a phone call, filling out a contact form or requesting a project quote.