The Google Era of Professional Selling for the Non-Technical Salesperson, by Bryan Heathman


The booming Internet marketplace of ecommerce is changing the sales rules in many industries.  The World Wide Web is a $130 billion marketplace, representing a whopping $650 million in daily transaction value during the peak season, making the Internet the single fastest growing marketplace in the history of world.  Are you getting your share of this revenue in your business?


Companies that traditionally transact the majority of their revenues via traditional sales channels are scrambling in today’s Google era to engage direct-to-customer strategies, which as you may know can get complicated with channel conflict and pricing strategies.  With the rapidly growing trend of e-commerce, it is a foregone conclusion that eventually online buying will touch your industry in some way, shape or form.  If this is not true of your industry today, consider yourself lucky.    Many people ask me if face to face sales will become obsolete in the onslaught of Internet e-commerce.  My response is a qualified “no”, as I believe there will always be a need for face to face representation to close deals.  However, there are some exceptions to this opinion, which I will explain in a second.  What works in the favor of professional salespeople is that less than 2% of first time visitors to any website make a buying decision on their first visit.  Combine this with the fact that the average website only has 10 visitors per day.  What this translates to is the average website will secure a whopping 6 customers per month in the absence of a well-crafted ecommerce conversion strategy.  Most salespeople I know have a much better closing ratio that 2%, which will work in your favor.  On the flip side, how many of your REALLY cold call 10 prospects…every single day of the year?  Herein is the opportunity! 



To respond to the question of whether face to face sales will ever go away, sit back and reflect about your industry trends as you read to this story.  In the last few years, I’ve had a front row seat to a sobering trend… witnessing large groups of sales professionals who have been virtually bulldozed by aggressive Internet companies entering their market space.  To give you some background, a while ago I decided to start my own sales & marketing business, specialized in running big online sweepstakes campaigns for large marketing departments.  Our customer base was primarily Travel and Tourism destinations and we had 5 salespeople spread across the United States & Canada.   Our services were designed to help destinations marketers attract visitors to their websites, collect information on these visitors, and then send email communications to promote our client’s tourism destinations.  In the 7 years running this business, we launched hundreds of campaigns and delivered millions of email messages to people who want to learn more about their favorite vacation destinations.  Tourism means millions of dollars in tourism spending for a region each year on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment, which is why there is competition for the attention of potential travelers. 


Well, one of our customers was Travelocity, which at the time was the second largest travel agency in the world.  There was huge investment going into these fast growing companies.  The sobering trend I saw unfold was the rapid rise of the big-3 Internet-based travel agencies, Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, eroding the business of the traditional travel agent.   Travel Agents are sales professionals with specialized training in selling travel services, who were being made obsolete right before my eyes.  Tens of thousands of travel agents went out of business in a short 5 year period, as consumers were flocking to purchase airline tickets online and make discount hotel reservations with Expedia and Travelocity.  The travel agents who survived this invisible onslaught were early adopters of Internet technology who evolved with the trend towards self service travel booking.  There are equally sobering trends happening in the real estate industry, as the founder of Expedia is now leveling his considerable business acumen in the real estate industry by creating technology to connect buyers and sellers of homes…without the help of a real estate professional.  Similar trends also exist in the insurance industry and the automotive industry.  


If you work in an industry that is threatened by new technology impacting your sales effectiveness, then now is the time to understand how to create and harness Internet-based sales technology to thrive in a rapidly changing environment.  Many salespeople, travel agents and real estate pros are adopting clever Internet strategies to make their business as friendly to the rapidly changing technology trends impacting their industry.  Today, anyone can capture the trend of Internet-based selling with virtually no money down. 


Now, I know what you are probably thinking...I’m a salesperson and not a technology wizard, so how will I be able to build a website to support my sales territory?  Well, the beauty of today’s Google era of selling, is that there are easy-to-use tools to create free websites to accomplish your sales objectives.  These websites are designed to be as easy to use a Microsoft Word.  Several large, well respected leaders in the industry like Google, Microsoft, Linked-In and Yahoo offer a fast, easy and free way for you to create your own website.  Let’s explore a few ideas:


1.       Linked In:  Linked-in is an effective tool to post a detailed description of professional salespeople, including your services and how to contact you.  The beauty of Linked-In is that you can set-up a profile in about an hour without any technical training which also makes it easy to find YOU on the major search engines like Google and Yahoo.  Linked-in also enables you to post icons in your outbound emails with a link back to your profile, where you can promote your products, services and solutions.  So in about an hour, with no money down, you can be promoting your sales initiatives online and taking advantage of the massive search engine traffic for your products and services.


2.       Facebook:  Facebook started as a website for university students to publish their profiles and connect with other students.  The site has rapidly evolved into a mainstream resource, which can be used by sales professionals to create an online profile promoting their wares.   Facebook has a feature where you can create Groups, which makes it efficient for you to communicate with a large group of people who opt-in to your Group.  Consider using Facebook to communicate details of trade show events, changes in product prices, changes in inventory selection and other information where your expertise adds value to buyers.   . 



 If using these tools seem too daunting to use or are simply too time consuming, then consider finding a student or a web-savvy friend who can help you do this work.  In my house, this person happens to be a student.  For more information on building your own website in about an hour using free tools, visit Internet Marketing Resources.  



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.  Mr. Heathman is available for limited speaking engagements.  To see Conversion Marketing in action, subscribe to the Convert-O-Matic ezine for the latest tips and tricks of conversion.   


For a preview of Bryan Heathman's audio program "Converting Sales in the Google Era", click the "play" icon below.