Your company’s reputation gets defined with every interaction, every expectation set and fulfilled, every product launched, and every promotional and marketing campaign launched. All of these strategies, tactics and programs define a company’s brand and identity. Companies get defined by how they attract, sell and serve customers. Selling is as much about branding as are advertising and promotion – think of the last positive buying experience and you’ll see my point.
With trust being the most precious commodity there is in any customer relationship, it’s time to start thinking about how your company’s selling strategies influence how it is seen by the outside world.
What do your selling strategies say about your company? Everything.
From the stereotypical pushy car salesman who has to check with his manager to give you a good deal and makes you sit for 30 minutes or more to the flight attendant that takes mercy on you and upgrades you even when a flight is 90% full, selling is all about delivering an experience. It's about earning the trust of your customers more than anything else.
Selling is all about building a bridge of trust with your customers.
In looking at how companies are approaching selling online, there are a few lessons learned.
Selling With Honesty Makes You Stronger. Now before you think I am jumping on a moralistic soap box, consider the fact that social networking is making fallacies, inaccuracies and flat-out lies reverberate around the world in seconds, not days, not weeks – but in the click of a mouse. One only has to reflect on Belkin and their paying for positive reviews to see how transparent the world has become. Buying online using guided selling that delivers on what it promises is actually a competitive advantage – and that is a great strength today.
Exceeding Expectations Online Is All That Matters. During the projects I’ve been involved in to create guided selling Web-based applications the tedious, at times, difficult tasks of managing integration to order management, pricing, logistics and ERP systems made the projects longer than anticipated. It was a ton of work but worth it because customers had a better understanding of when their orders would ship and orders were more accurate as a result. No, it wasn’t perfect but Order Status was the most popular Web-based app created at one electronics distributor I worked with. It did make a huge difference in freeing up telemarketers’ times andover time it began replacing in-bound telemarketing calls.
Buying Experience Trumps Buying Velocity. When Web-based guided selling apps get funded internally there is a strong anticipation that transaction velocity will skyrocket. Sales increase first on convenience items that get sold based on price and availability. Products with historically longer purchase cycles get traction from more efficiently educating customers. Concentrating on making the buying experience transparent – meaning that customers can quickly get to price, availability, and using product configurators, create their own customized versions of products is critical. Delivering on the experience paradoxically drives up velocity over time.
Bottom line: You are how you sell, and your reputation online is made or broken in second, not weeks or months. Making your guided selling applications deliver beyond expectations is much work but worth the effort.