Businesses are constantly under pressure to adapt to changing consumer preferences. The rise of e-commerce is transforming how, when and why consumers choose to shop, affording them more convenience, flexibility and choice. They can compare a far wider range of products in an instant – and all from the comfort of their desk.
This change in shopping habits is having a wide-reaching impact, challenging how brands sell to consumers. Traditional methods like cold-calling are falling flat as people move increasingly online for their needs.
It’s important that all businesses prepare their sales teams to comfortably navigate online consumer demands. As with most change, this digital market presents a wealth of opportunities that – when pursued strategically – far outweigh any challenges. Here are five crucial tips to get your sales team ready.
1. Get up-to-speed with e-commerce technology
A successful online sales strategy cannot depend on technology alone. It requires people to make it work. Without the necessary skills training, your existing and new employees will battle to get the most out of your software investment.
Make sure your current sales team receives plenty of preliminary and refresher training, to feel completely at home with the new system. When fresh recruits join the business, the more experienced team members can help fast-track the new hires to boost sales and business profits in no time.
That said, digital skills are a valuable commodity for any business nowadays. When looking to recruit new salespeople, focus on candidates who are technologically literate, data-driven and able to add fresh insights to your sales strategy.
2. Adapt to changing shopping habits
There’s no getting around it; e-commerce is on the rise and internet-based sales transactions will continue to grow. Consumers are enthusiastically responding to all their online options. What’s more, in exchange for even better, more personalized service, they are willingly providing their personal data. Amazon, for example, is capitalizing on this brilliantly. It collects customer information and uses it to make suggestive offers to customers in line with what they have already bought.
While most companies won’t have the same wealth of data or technology power as Amazon, they can still analyze the customer buying data they do have to create more personalized sales offers.
3. Move towards inbound sales techniques
Nothing alienates a customer faster than an aggressive salesperson. In the online environment, customers are particularly sensitive to overbearing sales techniques; when a customer feels bullied into making a purchase they simply exit your website and shop somewhere else.
Traditional sales methods, like cold calls and spam emails, are typically more aggressive than today’s inbound tactics. Inbound methods let the consumer choose when to get in touch. They attract interest using data-driven marketing and sales tools, combined with compelling, educational content. It’s a less intrusive approach that helps build trust and increases the likelihood of customers buying from you.
4. Use data to reach more customers
There’s no getting past it: an effective online sales strategy relies on data analysis. The art of capturing the right information and then extracting the relevant insights requires software assistance. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) applications can track each customer’s buying history and behavior.
If you know what your customers are buying, and when, then you can approach them with well-timed and personalized offers and promotions. You can also engage with them using the channels they like – some people, for example, prefer SMS to email. The better you know your customers, the better you are at giving them what they need – sometimes before they even know they need it.
5. Guide your customers to your business
Consumers are doing most of their shopping research themselves. They head onto Google and review various products and services before making a choice. As a result, by the time a shopper knocks on your digital door, they have often already completed up to 90% of the sales journey.
The modern sales person’s job is make sure the consumer chooses their company to complete the purchase. Once again, data plays a crucial role in this process. The strategic use of data analytics, online sales tracking and digital marketing will help your sales team woo the customer and close the deal.
The business of sales, and the role of a salesperson, have been transformed by e-commerce. Customers now have far more information and choice at their fingertips and thus, are far more empowered shoppers. Salespeople need to show data-driven intuition that understands the customer’s shopping journey. An online sales strategy that can guide shoppers happily to check-out faster is in everyone’s best interests.