Web Marketing For Sales Professionals!
by Bob Nunn
I recently had an opportunity to sit in with a group of sales people who were having a pitch for a slick high powered web based company. This is not the first time and I have seen these for many different industries.
The pitch was professional with a well done power point presentation. They of course had the support of the sales persons home office. It seems for $500 to $1000 bucks you can have your site on our system was the pitch. We are the biggest so you have to be here. The net is growing and you will be a small insignificant piece of lint without us. It is so easy to set up you would have to be a twit not be be able to accomplish it.
The presentation was excellent. They are the biggest and it would probably be in any sales persons best interest to have a presence there. But....
What's Wrong With This?
There are many things that this company does extremely well, in fact they were one of the better ones I have seen. There are a few things you need to consider though. You would be one among many hundreds with very little in ways to differentiate yourself. The search results are alphabetical. A client searching for a sales person in their area of the country would likely pick Al or Alice over Steve or Tanya simply from the standpoint that Al or Alice would come up first. I guess you could change your name to a symbol or AAA.
The pitch man said send us any old photograph. We will put it up your you. It doesn't matter if it is a Polaroid of your last fishing trip or....
There are no meta-tags in the canned pages. Yes there are keywords and zip codes area finders but if you have no expertise on how people search and understand the concept of how searches work you wouldn't have a chance of getting found as often as someone who does. Someone searching outside that search engine would never find them.
Here's What You Do...
I think certainly someone in this business should participate. I would at least do the minimal participation and if my sales were up and I could afford it I would go for the deluxe package. Keep in mind that you likely can add features later and let the site pay as it goes. The first thing I would do is hire a professional to set up my site. Make up a simply form of all the fill in information to supply to your professional or have them do it for you, but be prepared to take the time to give them all the material they require. They can't guess your business and if you are spending this kind of money you need to get results.
A professional knows of ways to get you to the top of an alphabetical search list. If they don't have them call me.
Go down and get a good professional photograph. A sales person is marketing themselves to the public. A picture is worth a thousand words? Maybe many thousands on the web. People are visual by nature. When looking for a sales rep, the picture is a large part of how people choose. No one ever picks someone by their stats only. Having no picture at all would be worse. Have it scanned and retouched. This is your livelihood for pete's sake. If you were a hamburger being photographed for McDonald's menu don't you think they would touch you up a bit? It's okay if you already have a good one that is a few years old. Just don't use the one where you are still in that cap and gown or that old wide lapel suit.
Have a web professional set up your site. You probably pay a yard man, and pay to have your oil changed. Spending a few dollars more to hire a professional only makes sense unless you are willing and able to spend your time and resources to become an expert, and you likely could be making more money selling than spending time doing this. If you are paying $500 to a $1000 to keep from becoming lint, you want to make sure your information and images are optimized for the web. A real professional will advise you on how best to get your points across to their customers and make sure your photographs and other images are optimized for best display. That means bulleted text in single syllables by the way. Nobody reads an essay.
Get your own personal page and domain name. Have a pro set it up and host it. Make sure they know how to set up meta-tags and set you up on the search engines as part of the process. Have them put in links to your expensive site. Let this push outside traffic into your expensive canned site. Have them duplicate this page on a few free sites and have them list those pages with the search engines as well with unique meta-tags as well. Don't know what a meta-tag is? Visit <http://headgap.com/addurl>
At least for the most inexpensive route that's a start. Someone with a bit of web marketing expertise can really be an asset in helping a sales professional take advantage of the web. There are many more things a sales person can do. For example you can produce a periodical newsletter and have your web master set up and maintain and opt-in mailing list. This may sound hard but it can be as simple as using the material sent out by your company. Depending on your audience add a fishing tip or two or perhaps a recipe. It doesn't have to be fancy but it has to be interesting to the recipient. This will keep you in contact with your customers.
You could also spend money on listings at Yahoo and or Looksmart. At about $200 each they may list you in the appropriate categories. Your web professional can help you get the most mileage from that. If you are bucks up this will kick start you. If not you may want to wait until you begin to get traffic and can afford it. Got lots of money? There are opportunities to spend it wisely on the web.
Are You Prepared To Harvest?
It takes time to establish yourself on the web. The more pages you have in more places and the length of time you have been there will build your traffic. Unless you spend lots of cash for advertising it simply takes time. The longer you procrastinate, the longer you will have to wait for results.
If you aren't already set up to receive Email quickly and efficiently you will need to do that. You always pick up your messages at the office and return those calls. You need to respond to your Email frequently. If you don't know how to use email programs you need to take a class that covers using email including how to open and send attachments. Your sales office probably has many of the forms you use in electronic format. Forms sometimes are available in Adobe Acrobat format (.PDF) <http://adobe.com> or maybe even online. You need to be prepared to assist your customers and make that buying process as easy and simple as possible. Your web buyers generally want the least amount of hassles and prefer self empowerment.
You should also cover computer viruses and some other fundamentals about using your email system. Do this before you find out the hard way. It is embarrassing when your email system sends all your clients a virus. If you don't have time for a class find a tutor. There are pro tutors out there (like us) but perhaps getting a patient son or daughter, or that other sales associate who is the office expert is as much as you will need.
Your email address could be supplied by your company but I would choose to tie my email into my own domain name. That is yours and if you leave a company it remains yours. Have all other email addresses you use forwarded to this address.
The next thing is add your main web page and email address to all your stationery. Add it to your email signature file. Buy a rubber stamp with it and put it on everything else you send out!
There are lots of tools available to make your life easier. Contact managers and perhaps some are even specialized to your particular industry. Learning to use them can make your life easier.
The computer is just another tool and it can be very powerful when combined with the Internet. The sales professional of today must be prepared to take advantage of this tool or perhaps be preparing to retire shortly. Some industries demand it now and all will eventually. There are web marketing professionals out there and many provide the services you need. Make sure and visit their web site and choose the one that has a web site that loads quickly and is easy to navigate, and has nice images. Avoid artsy, flash laden, web companies. They are a vexation your spirit and usually produce sites that you and your customers avoid. Photoshop can put that gleam in your eye, take those crow's feet away, and whiten those teeth but only if they know how to use it. Being in sales you already know how to pick out someone to work in your best interest.
Bob Nunn - Owner, Operator Headgap Systems, Inc.
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