The First Step to Making an Online Sale

As I'm preparing for the World Summit on Search Engine Accountability, (commonly known as the SEO Roadshow), I feel pressured to write another installment in the Conversion Chronicles, as I expect to be in no condition to write or say anything remotely coherent for several days afterwards.

I'm looking forward to getting to sell, errrr, meet several of you in Edinburgh and plying you with strong drink in the hopes of loosening your tongue and exposing your most effective strategies. You'll likely be attempting the same ploy on me. As good a salesman as you may think I am, I'm a better search engine placement specialist. Should be a fun-filled day of drunken debauchery and outrageous lies with each of us stuffing socks and sausages in our pants in attempts to inflate our reputations. A good time will be had by all.

You know, I'll never forget the last time I tried to show someone how to impress people. My cousin, Emmitt, is from a very rural background and is a stranger to the ways of the big city. On a visit to see me in Oklahoma City a few summers back, he asked what I thought he could do to "impress the city girls". After a moments reflection, I suggested he stuff a sock into his bathing suit and hit the local swimming hole. He asked if that really worked and I assured him I had heard that it really did work from an acquaintance of mine. He agreed to give it a try.

The next day I had to work but told Emmitt, I would meet him at the swimming hole after I got off. As I approached I could see from his expression something was awry. I asked him why he looked lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut and he responded that he did as I suggested and put a sock in his bathing suit but that no girls had even spoken to him yet they all stared and smiled. Some even laughed out loud. As he was telling me his tale of woe, I noticed something else. I hated to tell him but it was for his own good. "Emmitt", I said. "I think I see the problem". "The sock is supposed to go in the front!"

Before I start today, I first would like to express my extreme gratitude to all who made comment on last weeks installment. My objective with this entire endeavor is to alter perceptions. Especially the perception that sales and/or salespeople are bad. Like any decent blog, a lot of opinions and varying points of view were offered. Yet everyone showed mutual respect. I appreciate that a great deal.

As normal human beings, we all tend to make assumptions and then act accordingly. If you assume that salespeople are pushy and their job is to try to talk fast or control a prospect's decision making process, then it is likely that when you are put into a situation where you accept that you want sales, you will try to act like you think a salesman acts. If the assumption is made on a common mis-perception, you find yourself not getting what you want while thinking you are just not as good at something as you think others are. Thinking that some have some magic or skill you just don't have. The fact is you ARE just as good at it, or at least have the potential to be just as good. It is not a matter of learning that magic or that special skill, that doesn't really exist in the first place. It is a simple matter of just looking at it in a different way.

So, moving forward, I'd like to introduce everyone to the first of a few basic concepts of effective sales.

Basic Concept of Effective Sales #1.

Salespeople, regardless of how good you think the salesperson is, can not make anyone do anything the prospect does not want to do.

We've all seen how many of us take offense to a salesperson sizing us up or profiling us. We sometimes dress, speak or act out of character for the sole purpose of "throwing a crafty salesperson off". Often we feel threatened by what we see as "pesky" salespeople trying to upsell us or trying to control us. We do this without realizing that altering what we wear or say or do, says as much about who we are as anything else we might have worn, said or done. For example, if you decided to wear old clothes to shop for your new stereo, did you also think to not bathe for several days? I can look at someone in old clothes and instantly make an assumption as to whether they are without financial wherewithal or if they are someone who can afford to bathe regularly, indicating they are likely someone with a home, thereby likely to have a mortgage, thereby likely to have a job, etc. etc.. You know what? So can you!

If you can wrap your mind around the basic concept of effective sales #1, you can stop doing anything for any reason other than to just be who you are. And who you are, affords you the same "magic" as the best salesperson you ever met.

As I said, we all make assumptions based on first impressions. We all make a decision within nano-seconds about people and situations as to whether we like it or not. When you first walk into a sales situation, the salesman is doing nothing any different than you do when you meet other people in a bar or grocery store. That first few seconds has nothing more to do with profiling than when you try to evaluate your spouse's mood when you are hoping to know them in the biblical sense and fear the dreaded, "I've a headache tonight".

The first impression is NOT the end of the sales process. A salesman doesn't make a sale based only on what the salesman sees. He can only make a sale based on what the salesman LEARNS. Once a salesman has made his initial assumption, he has learned very little and the true benefit that assumption offers to him is to give him an idea of what to say first to further the learning process. Which brings me to:

Basic Concept of Effective Sales #2.

Effective selling has much more to do with listening than it has to do with talking.

So, the next installment or so will have to do with listening to your prospects and how we listen when all we have is a website and some stats. But there is something we need to get out of the way before we even get that far. What is the very first step to making an online sale?

The very first step in making an online sale is setting an objective and a strategy.

I don't begrudge anyone who uses auto generated text or cloaking for the sole purpose of capturing search engine traffic for specific keywords. Of course I would never do anything like that myself, but the reason I don't begrudge anyone doing it is ------ it works. No serious net marketer would be generating anything if it did not garner results. There is a problem. There is far too much wasted space on the web from content that really should have never existed in the first place, BUT --------- when there is Adwords kind of money on the table, there are going to be those who legally pursue the path of least resistance. It will stop only when the search engines themselves recognize that they created the very monster they claim so passionately to be trying to stop and decide to do something about it other than just bitch and blame others for their own lack of efficiency. That's why I don't begrudge anyone using it and accept that it does in fact exist. So, I'm not talking about wasting time developing an objective and strategy for another 9 million H tag, keyword-in-the-url, 28% density pages filled with gibberish. The objective is obvious and doesn't take much time to decide to start throwing mountains of crap at a target and keep throwing more faster until something sticks.

But, what if the auto-gen stuff actually works and you get 100 hits from 47,857 pages? Where do we send the 100 hits and why?

At some point, if a sale is going to be made, it is going to be made from a page that the surfer can plainly see and interact with. THAT is the page you need to know what you wanted from it and how you think you are going to get it.

Setting an objective and a strategy may intimidate. Some find it difficult to state specific objectives. Which, by the way, are the only ones that really work and I'll tell you why if you keep reading.

Were you to ask a group of people what their objective is with their website, the most popular answer by far is: "to make money". That is not an objective. That is a hope. A wishful thinking. You can not develop an effective strategy to make money. You CAN develop an effective strategy to make $100 in a month, or even a million dollars in a year. Do you know why? It sets your numbers to hit. It gives you a way to tell if and when you are done.

Do you want to know why it seems so hard for most people to set a specific objective when it seems so simple to just state what you want? Fear of failing.

Most people fear being wrong and when forced to say they want a specific thing in a specific time frame, without being confident they are fully prepared, they "feel" the chances of actually getting that specific thing in the specific time frame is remote. That would indicate the possibility of being wrong. OUCH!

Now, to set a strategy, you HAVE to have an objective but the weird thing is, it is all hypothetical. All the research in the world can only afford you a "best guess". There is no way a human can fully prepare to set an objective. At the end of the day, it is a shot. What book can you check out from the library that will tell you how and why you can make a million dollars in a year?

Another weird thing is most business objectives aren't really what we want personally. What most of us want is security for our families, respect from our peers and happiness. What does that stuff cost?

So as small business operators, it may be difficult to separate personal objectives from commercial. Naturally, we built the website in the first place to make money. But we want the money so we can have the other stuff. All this contributes to our "feeling" that the chances for being wrong are high. So, Bob, how do we set a realistic objective without being afraid of being wrong? Glad you asked.

By changing your perception.

If an objective is based on a desire, YOU CAN NOT BE WRONG. If you want a billion dollars, you want it and that can not be wrong. If setting an objective is based on your best estimated guess, YOU CAN NOT BE WRONG. You only under or over estimated.

When you set an objective with a specific number in a specific time frame, you can not fail. You may not hit your number in the allotted time but all you need to do is re-evaluate and adjust. You did not fail, you just missed your dateline. Adjust your strategy and continue. If you do not give up, YOU WILL HIT YOUR NUMBERS AND MEET YOUR OBJECTIVE or you will die trying. Either way, you DID NOT FAIL.

So, the very first step in making an online sale is, before you put up that first page you want your prospective customers to see, set a realistic objective. My suggestion is something simple like 10% of the traffic clicking on a specific link and going to a specific page. That is easy to see the results from. Then decide on how you plan to hit that number. Again, my suggestion? Keep it simple. Something like, offering a limited set of options, (links), that are tightly themed to the referring page.

I could give you some links to reading material about setting objectives and strategies like "Strategic Planning for Dummies", ( I must warn you, this is a pdf put out by the US military. You know what they say about military intelligence.) , or "The Complete MBA For Dummies", and I encourage you to read everything you can about this stuff because it really is the key to running a successful business, but for my purposes here and within the confines of the topic at hand, all I really want to accomplish is altering the way you see setting objectives and strategies and seeing that it ain't hard and you can not fail and it has got to be done if you are going to get better at making sales online.

Now, you kids hush up. Gunsmoke is coming on.

The defintion of an objective according to Webster's is:
something worked for or driven for; goal.


That's a good example of my

That's a good example of my point plumsauce. Your life insurance salesman gave you a very good illustration of setting an objecitve:

>i figure out how much i want to make this year.<

>i figure out how many calls a day.

i make the calls. <

The only thing I'm hoping to do is to help some reduce the labor load. I'm one of those lazy sales guys. I fully understand the power of the numbers as your insurance friend explained them and in fact do the same thing. I have just always been more the type to focus on making more sales to fewer people by saying the right thing to the right prospect and I hope to share that.

Be that as it may, the insurance saleman story was great.

to Jstassin. You said:
>I'll just say one million a year. OK Half a million<

That is not an objective. That is a wish or a hope I get lucky kind of thing. Remember, an objective has to a specific thing within a specific timeframe.

Here is what is holding you back.

>I am afraid to set an objective. <

That is not exactly right. No one should be afraid of saying "I want a million dollars in the next 12 months. There is nothing to be afraid of in that statement. Maybe it involves greed, unrealistic expectations or about a dozen other vague terms but none of them should actually invoke fear.

If you are like the vast majority of people, you are not afraid of setting an objective, you are afraid of being wrong or failing. Now, here is the million dollar secret. You can not be wrong or fail when striving to meet an objective. You can only hit your numbers or miss them. If you miss them, it does not mean you failed. It means you didn't hit your numbers and you simply need to re-evaluate your strategy, identify potential problems and propose possible solutions. Re-state your objective and go hit your numbers. Get that concept accepted in your mind and you are a millionaire.It's only a matter of time.

best novice question

Seems like a good place to share a question asked over at WMW on the affiliates forum:

Is sales copy actually necessary?


Anyways, a million dollar roundtable life insurance salesman once shared his secret method with me over a drink, actually, many drinks :)

to paraphrase:

it's a numbers game.

i figure out how much i want to make this year.
i figure out how many calls that's going to take.
i figure out how many calls a month.
i figure out how many calls a week.
i figure out how many calls a day.

i make the calls.

Still Trying

You give me hope. I am afraid to set an objective. I'll just say one million a year. That way I'll never get there.
That sounds synical. OK. Half a million

"This is Spinal Tap" comes to mind

but maybe that's just me

Nice sock

My laughter alerted my wife to the fact that I am done working for the day.

- Thanks