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Surfing for Sales – A Step-by-Step Guide to Harnessing the Internet’s Selling Power & Riding the Wave of Success

It is probably very clear to you by now that the internet holds an infinite number of opportunities for every aspect of business and, indeed, for life in general.

But, as a sales person, what might not be so clear is exactly how this applies to you and your bottom line.

The online world is often seen as the remit of marketers and PR strategists, who are already intelligently using social media, social networks and many other online forums with great success. But, in sales too, these tools have become invaluable for finding, negotiating, winning and keeping business.

If you hadn’t considered the many benefits that the Internet can have on your sales performance (aside from the use of email and Google!), let us give you some food for thought…

1. Finding new business – The sheer quantity of information available on the internet is staggering. These days you can find out almost anything you want to know at the click of a button. You should use the Internet to seek out people who might be interested in doing business with you and raise your profile with clients.

Joining a Twitter conversation and becoming part of an interest group on LinkedIn are just two ways in which you can make contact with individuals and businesses. Remember that, outside of work, people use social networking in their own time. By raising your profile on sites like Facebook, you can have a trickle through effect on their professional lives.

Similarly, some people prefer using web messengers and live chat functions to communicate because they are less formal and easy to use, so keep these channels open. Increasing your web presence through writing a blog is another simple way of making your business seem current and interesting.

2. The sales pitch – Make use of the many hundreds of forums that are out there to find out what people think of products (or similar products). Whether they are positive or negative, you can use this information to counter objections or concerns before they are even raised by addressing them in your sales pitch.

Internet forums are unique resources that can allow you to see what is really going on in the customer’s head. They are a source of honest feedback that you just can’t get from direct calls or meetings. Knowing and predicting what your potential customer wants and cares about – and aligning your product’s features directly to these concerns and desires – is what makes a good sales pitch great.

3. Negotiating your win – When negotiating with a prospect, there is a good chance that they will have done their research on you to work out how to play the negotiation in their favour. You need to counter this informational leverage by doing some research of your own.

Use LinkedIn to connect with your contacts who are in the same industry to ask for advice, to pull some strings, or to praise your work ethic the next time they see the decision maker. You should also make sure that your online presence tells a story about you that you want to convey – do you want to be seen as tough and unforgiving or conciliatory and friendly? Your reputation can precede you ahead of meetings, and you want to use this to your advantage.

4. Building client relationships – Once you have won their business, don’t simply forget about them! Winning a new client should be viewed as the beginning of a working partnership which has the potential to yield more business in the future so long as you keep the client satisfied.

Communicating with, and involving, your client on a day-to-day basis will let them know that they are still important to you, and the Internet is the easiest place to do this. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Simply mentioning your client in a Twitter post can mean publicity for them and a positive reference for you, for example. Keep an eye on what your customer’s business is doing through social media feeds and by taking a look at their website every now and then. This will help you to constantly be on the look out for new ventures that you can involve yourself in.

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase