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Marketing is NOT Sales
There's one heck of a lot of print out there about the huge benefits of Internet Marketing and how it's going to make or break your business. By now, we all have a pretty good idea how to build a brand, create a buzz and drive traffic to websites.

Funny how there's not nearly so much out there about Sales. Yet, at the end of the day, success in e-business is about sales, isnít it? The proof is in the pudding - or in its absence! Lots of dot-coms have turned into dot-bombs because, even though they spent tons of money getting folks to their sites, they overlooked the tiny fact they needed to sell them once they got there. Sad thing is, many of those visitors would have bought happily and could have left delighted.

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Don't get me wrong. Marketing is an essential part of the e-commerce equation. Marketing ďpaves the wayĒ for Sales. But itís only where Sales and Marketing overlap that buying happens. Think of it like one of those Venn diagrams you probably remember from school:

Now, imagine pulling these circles apart, so Sales gets farther and farther away from Marketing. How much buying do you have left? (Hint: Less and less until you have none. Zero. Nada.) Now imagine pushing these circles together, so Sales and Marketing increasingly overlap, and you can literally watch buying increase!

Before they get to your website, your potential customers take in lots of external influences and compare those messages to their internal desires and values. This is where Marketing plays an important role in creating the "propensity to buy." But as soon as a visitor begins to interact with your "store," all the marketing in the world isn't going to save you if your site doesnít know how to sell.

Think of it this way. You see an advertisement on TV where a car manufacturer tells you it makes the safest car out there, and the ad prominently displays lots of images of an adorable, safe baby and happy parents enjoying their worry-free car ride. Suppose you've got a baby. You want her riding in the safest car. You think maybe you should look into buying this car. So off you and your baby head to the dealership. You walk in with the "propensity to buy," but you still need to be sold. You want lots of questions answered about options, service, which model would best suit your needs. You want to test drive the car. You want to be treated like you matter. You want to feel good about the decision to buy. Without a salesperson holding your hand through the sales process, treating you the way you want to be treated and selling you the way you want to be sold, you probably aren't going to buy a thing from this dealership, even if they do sell the safest car in the world.

Or think of a smaller-ticket purchase. I wanted a photo-quality printer, because I'm playing around with digital cameras these days. I came across an advertisement that promised the product would give me "superior quality at the incredible price of $175". I enthusiastically trotted off to that store and in the blink of one of my eyes, found myself standing in a huge aisle filled with printers. All of a sudden, I got to wondering if maybe there wasn't an even better printer for my needs. I pushed a few of the test buttons and got some test printouts. Holding them in my hand, I looked for a salesperson. No one around. I read some of the fact sheets, but still had questions. Still no salesperson in sight. I've still got the printouts right here on my desk, but I didnít buy a printer.

Marketing got me to the store, but it didn't create the sale. Marketing canít; Sales can, and does. Had someone bothered to help me, I might have bought that $175 printer. Who knows, they might even have been able to talk me into the next model up. Or they might have helped me figure out I really would be better off with a different make. It just as easily could have gone another way: even without benefit of sales help, I might have bought that $175 printer, carted it home, installed it and been dissatisfied with my purchase. And if I'd bought it and it worked okay? Well, I'd still be wondering if I'd got the best deal for my needs, which still leaves me somewhere short of being completely delighted. So, the end result in this case is that no amount of money that business spends on marketing is ever going to induce me to return, 'cause they haven't shown me they acknowledge and value the role of Sales, which is another way of saying they havenít shown me they acknowledge and value me!

Getting the idea? It's a proven fact: shoppers want to find something they will be happy to buy; they do want to be sold. So, in order to sell more, you need to sell more. By all means, drive traffic to your site. But make sure when they get there, you have a website that attends to the business of Sales. Marketing alone must fail. It is that simple!

click here for a printable version of this whole article

 

From an interview with the guy who signs my check:
"So a fundamental problem is that there is no sales process; customers simply aren't being sold. Beyond that are slow download speeds, confusing layouts, poor navigation and usability, a lack of customer focus, too many graphics, weak copy; unfortunately the list is almost endless." - Jeff Eisenberg, President of Future Now 

Click here to read the interview


The Emperor Has No...CLOSE!

You know the story, the one where it took a little kid to point out the obvious: the vain, self-important Emperor who thought he was wearing a glorious new outfit was, in fact, appearing in public completely naked. Nobody had the nerve to tell him, but to the little kid it was so obvious, how could he not?

Well, look at the current state of e-business. Lots of hype, lots of pie-in-the-sky predictions, yet the truth is painfully obvious. If e-commerce is that fabled Emperor, then where are the sales? Folks online are learning thereís a big difference between putting up an e-commerce site and actual sales. From where I sit, the Emperorís lack of clothes is e-commerceís lack of close. Sales arenít happening because, while sites are doing everything else including singing and dancing, they arenít selling.

Talk about running around naked! It's really embarrassing. And I'm the "kid" pointing the finger!

The size of the problem is amazing. Sites supposedly set up to sell experience terrible customer conversion rates, astronomical costs of customer acquisition, and appalling customer retention rates. Itís no wonder the web is awash in red ink.

Just how naked is that emperor? Let me paint a clearer picture.

The typical conversion rate on the web is less than 2% (compared with 48% in the brick and mortar world), and that rate is going down.

Even out of the people who do buy from a site, 90% never come back, and that number is going up.

In 1999, as much as $9 billion in US retail sales were lost due to slow download times alone, and that figure is going up.

During the 1999 holiday season (can you say "most critical time of year?"), at least $7 billion in sales were lost to a combination of website and fulfillment problems, and that figure is going up.

62% of shoppers who are looking for a specific product simply abandon their search. Yep, still going up.

42% of online shoppers resorted to bricks and mortar alternatives to meet needs they tried to satisfy via the Internet. That number is going up, too.

67% of shoppers who actually put items in their online shopping carts still abandon the transaction before checking out, and that rate is going up.

The typical cost of customer acquisition far exceeds the lifetime value of the customer.

As many as 43% of online shoppers who are computer-knowledgeable and want to buy still fail.

Many e-tailers are redirecting their efforts to business-to-business relationships in an effort to salvage their companies, yet fail to resolve any of the underlying problems.

Yes, itís not just bad, itís getting worse. And thatís despite literally hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at the problems by so-called experts. Do you think thereís just a tiny chance those ďexpertsĒ might be missing something? Plus, itís not just about those shoppers that bail out. A customer who experiences a bad online shopping experience tells an average of 10 other people, people who will never even point their browsers in your direction.

The crazy thing is that people want to buy. That's why they came to you in the first place! And both research and plain old common sense prove that, while people donít want to be pushed, of course, people do want to be sold. Sell them and theyíll buy more; ignore them and theyíll buy less. Yes, it really is that basic. Think about this: would you build a brick and mortar store, stock it with stuff, but then not hire any salespeople? No? Well then, how can you build a digital store, not staff it with Digital Salespeopleô, and expect it to sell? Sure, some people will buy - maybe. But even then, ďsomeĒ isnít nearly enough. Want new clothes? Pay attention to your close.

Digital Salespeople is a trademark of Future Now, LLC

click here for a printable version of this whole article 

GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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