The Internet has created a new set of challenges for your sales department.
The opportunities go far beyond simply taking orders on a company website. Train your staff in the nuances of the electronic age and you'll strengthen and extend your reach.
Here are seven strategies to get the most out of the Web and e-mail:
Narrow your prospects. Use the Internet to search for information about potential customers. If they have websites, you can find out what they sell and the names of top executives. You may also discover articles or press releases about the companies and their latest developments. With this information, you can decide whether to pursue the prospects and how to approach them.
Target the top. Studies show that decision-makers often read their own electronic messages. This lets you bypass the "gatekeepers" who answer phones and open mail. But first impressions still count. Make sure the subject line of your message is intriguing and informative -- and spell check before hitting the send button.
Use time more efficiently. The Internet frees you from the constraints of core business hours. You can make contacts whenever you want, which cuts the time you spend making phone calls. On the other end, prospects can read e-mail at their convenience so they may be more receptive to your message because they didn't have to interrupt projects or meetings.
Accelerate follow-ups. You can e-mail critical information to potential customers while your sales pitch is still fresh in their minds. Prospects can instantly ask questions via a reply message. Don't forget to include a hyperlink to your website so they can read more about your products and services.
Expand your reach. The Internet lets you reach many people at the same time. If you have a new product that you want to show 100 prospects, e-mail information to all of them and plan follow-up visits to those who show the most interest. Your new product quickly turns into sales dollars and you drastically reduce travel time.
Get visual. Salespeople always rely on visuals to make an impact and the Internet makes it easy. You can electronically send PowerPoint presentations and videos to prospects. Then, chat with them while they view the presentations. This lets both parties immediately ask and answer pertinent questions.
Create a sales site. Set up a website exclusively for sales. Include visuals, pricing, testimonials, explanations of why your products or services are unique, and any other critical information. Schedule appointments -- either electronically or by phone -- and walk prospects through the site. Of course, don't forget to ask questions that focus on their needs.
Alone, each of these tactics may help boost revenue. Combined, your company could develop a potent, comprehensive strategy that transforms your sales department into a powerful, more productive force.
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