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Developing an Online Sales Plan - Ecommerce

Quick Notes - Online Sales Plan:
  • Online commerce can be much more lucrative than brick and mortar commerce.
  • Focus on: Website design & hosting, Marketing, Online sales conversions, and Customer service.

Online commerce is very different than typical traditional brick and mortar commerce. Online commerce or e-commerce sales techniques are somewhat different than your average selling strategies. In order to be successful online, you must have a quality visual presence and a well marketed product or service. As an entrepreneur you will need to focus on how to close a sale, acquire basic selling skills, and hone your advanced sales techniques in order to have your online business compete with the seemingly infinite amount of competitors. Why did business and commerce come to the Internet in the first place? Why would we remove the human interaction from sales and customer service? Why would we use a virtual platform that requires endless training and retraining? Why should you, the business owner, look at online commerce as opposed to traditional business schemes?

Steps to Successful Online Commerce

Online commerce is far more lucrative, potentially more profitable, and less expensive than identical brick and mortar businesses. Online companies reduce overhead expenses exponentially over the course of any given fiscal year, in comparison to offline competitors. This means more money in your pocket, and more disposable income to work with in expanding your business. How do we get to the stage where our online company is successful and providing endless streams of income? Let’s start from the basics. I’ll assume that you’re reading this article because you’ve got an idea, or a product or service that you feel could survive the online marketplace. Let me give you the knowledge to move forward and provide a presence for your business, and essentially create the online sales plan blueprint for you. You’re ready to begin your online commerce venture, where do you begin?

Web Site Design & Hosting

Your web site is the focal point of your business. Your customers will come to your website and instantly derive a first impression. Think of this as you would in real life; where you meet someone for the first time and within the first 3 seconds you’ve already got an impression of that person. The same holds true for online web sites. Except in the online world, users are not forced to confront or let down a person if they don’t like them. They simply click the big X button in the top right of their internet browser. Or worse, they go to your competitor’s web site. Let’s assume you want to keep that customer and sell them your product. In that case, you’re going to need to create (or have someone else create) a web site that is representative of the image you want to give potential customers. Typically, you want to strive to meet the following two goals:

Professional: You need your web site to be professional so your customers can derive a sense of trust on initial impression. They need to feel secure enough to do business with you. Face-to-face, or online, professional is key. This means ensuring your punctuation, spelling, grammar, and sentence structure is sound. This also means your web site is not created by an amateur.

User Friendly: This is one of the most underutilized functions of a web site in today’s marketplace. Too many companies try to prove they are ‘technologically advanced’ by providing a robust web site that is hard to access the information users want immediately. Give your users the information they want immediately. Provide a very seamless and quick experience for your users. Do not hide content, or force users to make any more than 2 clicks from your home page in order to access critical information. You will want to hire a web designer that has experience producing professional business web sites. Avoid templates that you can find for free online. Chances are there are others with the same site design as you, and that is never a good thing. Your home page needs to be as unique as your product.

Furthermore, and most importantly, you will need to find a reputable company to use as your hosting provider. A hosting provider is a company that provides a server (or servers) to clients in order to host their web sites and online content. You will want to find a reputable web hosting company with many years experience and a large client base. Their uptime should be 99.99% or higher. If they go down, your business goes down and that could lead to lost profit. This website is hosted by BlueBeaverHost.com and designed, developed, and search engine optimized by friends from SnazzyLogo.com who provides packages and custom quotes for logo's, websites, and SEO.

Marketing

You have a web site now, and a web hosting provider. Now it is time for you to market yourself online and drive traffic to your web site. The best way to do this is to allocate capital to marketing campaigns – much like you would offline through billboards, television commercials, or posters. The online marketplace has equivalent advertising possibilities. You will want to setup accounts with advertising companies like Google, Yahoo, and other big-name high-traffic companies. Do not waste your time and money on small advertising opportunities with little to no potential return on investment. As you get higher in the search and index ratings, you will find yourself driving more traffic to your web site. This will come with time, and can only be supplemented with hard work and real capital.

Online Sales Conversions

Similar to the real world, learning how to close a sale and utilizing advanced selling techniques are of the utmost importance in online transactions. Your business processes need to be thorough and straightforward. If you have too much forms to fill, and too much bloating on your site, your customers will not properly perform the transaction. They will go elsewhere and not conduct business with you again. Make your sales forms quick, easy, and painless.

Customer Service

You should consider providing customer service on your web site through a Live Help feature. Make yourself available to potential customers through your web site. Customers will login to ask you questions, clarify purchasing questions, and ask for assistance. You will be given the opportunity to typically make a sale, and close sales through a Live Help feature. The best sales representative tips this author can provide, is to be professional and helpful. Your customers have chosen you to do business with, and you now need to give them the time and courtesy required to close the sale.

The Finalized Online Sales Plan

Your online sales plan will be an evolving process. This author has laid the ground work for you to setup a successful online sales plan through utilization of technology, and through sound sales techniques. It is now your job to implement them and watch your budding venture turn into a successful organization.