In the age of the internet, you can not overlook the opportunity presented by incorporating the internet as a sales channel to drive growth and sales for your business. However, selling online is tricky and one of the main drawbacks is there is no face-to-face contact to put your customers worries at bay. This makes it imperative that all other communications (email/phone) is kept clear and informative, to avoid any misunderstandings, which can be detrimental to the company brand and image.
Below are some key points that must be considered when selling online:
Be available - although it is hard to be available for all customers at all times, as the global reach of the internet brings the different time zones into play, it is essential that potential customers feel they can contact you when they need to. Flexible working hours from the employer help the sales rep achieve this point, but the sales rep has to make it happen whatever the time may be. Depending on the customer, a variety of communication channels can be used: telephone (including VoIP services such as Skype), email, web conferences, social media etc. Email is a great channel as points and responses are in writing for the customer to refer back to and any communication barriers are easily overcome.
All communication with the potential customer reflects the image of the company and gives insight to the customer as to the level of services they should expect if they do decide to purchase your goods/services. For this reason being punctual with responses and following up on any outstanding questions raised by the customer is of vital importance from the beginning.
Questions raised should be answered in detail but stay on topic. There’s a fine line between answering a question with as much information as possible vs. going off topic but also maintaining the interest of the customer vs. providing excess information. It is appreciated when you are told things that you may not have considered, but the sales rep must understand when additional relevant information will be appreciated by the potential client and when it will become a nuisance. Especially with internet purchases, customers really dive into the details of the goods they are about to purchase and in most cases, will raise the exact questions they want answers for. A good sales rep will understand this and provide useful additional information where required.
Keep language simple and provide examples: as potential customers are global, across different cultures and languages, keeping communication simple is key to ensuring your responses are understood. Providing examples of what is being explained, and especially in the context of the customer’s use-case, is a great way make sure your response is understood by the customer.
Put yourself in the customers shoes to understand their exact requirements and be able to advise on the best possible solution that you would also be happy with in their place. In some cases the customer may become overwhelmed and request features that they may not necessarily require. The good sales rep will read between the lines in this case, by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and advise the customer accordingly. This is a risky approach and may backfire, but listening to the customer’s feedback and explaining the reasons why the suggestion was made will not only prevent the customer becoming defensive over their requirement, but also increase the trust the customer shows in the sales rep, cementing a good working relationship moving forward.
Respect differences in cultures and adapt communications depending on where the customer is based.
No matter how many times you have explained something, the customer is reading the sales rep’s response to their question for the first time. Keep explaining things thoroughly, however simple it may seem and even if you have explained it many times to many different customers. If the same questions are repeated over and over again, this should be included on the website as it will prevent customers from getting aggravated over not being able to find some basic information.
These are some of the main points that sales reps should make sure they follow when responding to customer inquiries online to ensure the potential customer is kept informed and happy. Remember, happy customers drive growth!