Sales and eCommerce

Learning eCommerce Lessons the Hard Way:  Cold Calling Door to Door, by Bryan Heathman


I started my sales and marketing career at 21 years old, “carrying the bag” for Xerox, selling photocopiers door-to-door in office buildings.  I remember my first day of cold calling like it was yesterday.  I had trained for 3 months with veteran salespeople, then was sent out to start making my own sales calls solo.  Cold calling can be tough business, as those of you who have done it know.  My job was to visit 20 businesses per day face to face.  On average, you would get 18 “NOs” and 2 prospects.   It was a cold November day, fifty degrees and raining steadily.  I remember my first day on the job sitting in the drivers’ seat of my new red car, working up the nerve to get out and start selling on my own.  I sat there for a good 45 minutes organizing sell sheets, practicing openers, and mustering the courage to get out of the car.  Finally… I got out of the car….. pulled on my rain jacket and starting making calls office to office.  After a few cold calls, I got on a roll and started having fun with the job, getting the banter down to sweet-talk the receptionist into letting me into the office of the business owner. 


I quickly learned that there was magic in increasing conversion ratios, given all the hard work it took each day to find 1 or 2 prospects. I recently met a guy who had the uncanny ability to close 90% of his live prospects…so I ask myself what sets someone like this apart from the typical salesperson who is closing 15-25% of their prospects? The superstars in sales are masters at the art of conversion….using their Influence skill, leadership traits, understanding of their sales funnel and meticulous attention to follow-up details. Observing the success of “natural born salespeople” and running hundreds of online marketing campaigns, I discovered how you can incorporate these success traits into your eCommerce website. 


A while ago I went to a seminar featuring a half dozen famous speakers such as Zig Ziglar, a billionaire, former Presidents and Hollywood actors.  It was at this seminar that I saw the most amazing sales pitch…ever.  A guy named Phil Town got on the platform of the local NBA basketball arena, and presented to a packed-house of 15,000 people.  To my amazement, in one hour Phil converted thousands of people into buyers of a $1,000 stock trading program.  Never before had I witnessed a single salesperson convert thousands of people in one shot!  Phil was leveraging the tools of Influence in a manner like I have never seen before.  So how can you practice the art of Influence online, without the advantage of a masterful salesperson like Phil?


In the book Conversion Marketing, I talk about how the psychology of influence is leveraged by successful companies to maximize conversion ratios.  These principles of influence are highly effective tools in modifying human behavior.  To get a glimpse into how to leverage the skills of Influence as effectively as the salesman who can close thousands of people at a time, let’s explore 3 areas of influence:


1.         Scarcity Creates Demand:  Very few tools of influence work more effectively than offering a limited supply of a scarce resource.  Costco Wholesale stores have mastered the art of this practice, where they vary their seasonal merchandise frequently enough so that each time you visit the store, shoppers are conditioned to buy an item today because it will be sold out on the next visit.  It is no coincidence that the book aisle will feature a popular book for a 6-week duration, then will no longer make the popular book available for sale.  Think about limited availability of popular items on your website, to condition repeat visitors to “buy now.”


2.         Create Urgency:  One of the most reliable tools of influence in closing sales is to create urgency.  We all know that if a buyer puts off a buying decision, the opportunity to close the sale is typically lost for good.  One proven technique to create urgency is to offer limited time incentives to make a buying decision.  For example, offer free shipping “today only”, which is a great method of helping people overcome the perceived cost difference in buying online. 


3.         Fear of Loss:  as counterintuitive as it seems, in the mind of most people the fear of loss is more powerful then promise of gain.  Determine how your product or service will help people keep what they already have, communicate that in clear terms and the odds of closing sales will increase dramatically.


Using these tools of influence online have proven effective for eCommerce marketers mastering the art of influence in an online selling environment.  May your journey towards world-class marketing status be met with success as you incorporate these principles into your website marketing plans.



Bryan Heathman is a popular speaker and author of the widely acclaimed book, Conversion Marketing.  Beginning in 1995, Mr. Heathman has captained hundreds of online marketing campaigns for some of the world’s largest commercial ventures, including Proctor & Gamble, Nissan Motors, and Travelocity.  Other ad work includes marketing leadership with such notables as Microsoft, Kodak and 24/7 Real Media.  Mr. Heathman incorporates his practical experience into a system of psychological tools for website marketers to achieve maximum influence and the highest sales conversion ratios.  To see Conversion Marketing in action, subscribe to the Convert-O-Matic ezine for the latest tips and tricks of conversion.