If someone approached you asking about the difference between online and offline sales, what kind of answer would you give? How would you explain the psychology between the 2? Or were you even aware that there was a difference in the approach?
If your answer is, “I haven’t got a clue,” you aren’t alone. Most business owners don’t know because they’ve never been taught—much less provided resources about how to begin selling and building a brand online. It’s an entirely different animal than the offline world.
As leaders in the world of e-commerce and experts with decades of experience in face-to-face sales, the Viral Solutions team often notices that businesses are not meeting their full potential simply because they do not understand the massive difference between offline and online sales.
To grow your business to the heights you dream of, it is imperative that you have an online presence and that your sales and marketing team understands the differences between online and offline sales—as well as the psychology of each one.
To help your business accomplish these tasks, let’s talk about a major problem we often face…
When a business that has always sold strictly offline decides it’s time to have an online presence—which is crucial in today’s technological climate and can really accelerate your business if done right—they think they can use the same marketing and sales tactics that they have always used offline.
This does not work. It is backward, in fact. When a business that has never had an online presence asks us to build their website, they often request we frame it around themselves…
While this may be true, it turns prospects off. In the online world, it should never be just about you. Your potential clients want to know how your product or service can benefit THEM. Unlike selling offline, when it comes to online sales, providing facts and information is your primary goal.
You can’t simply place yourself in someone’s view by showing up. You have to earn every click and every view—in one way or another.
The Huge Differences Between the Offline and Online Sales Process
Your first task in bridging the gap between your offline and online sales is by learning the big differences between the 2 and the psychology of each. We discuss these differences below:
Offline Sales—Where YOU Have the Advantage
- You have the ability to evaluate your prospective client. You see them; determine what interests them; and read their body language, eye movements, and overall demeanor. You can make informed judgments based on your observations.
- You have the advantage. Your salesperson knows when to close, when not to close, whether the prospect is interested and/or qualified, etc.
- You are possibly speaking at conferences with many potential clients in attendance.
- There are many phone conversations with current and potential clients.
Online Sales—Where Your CUSTOMER Has the Advantage
- You will most likely never meet potential clients in person.
- Potential clients have the advantage because you cannot read their emotions or body language and make your sales pitch.
- The potential client usually has their mind 80% made up before they “raise their hand” by filling out your contact form, messaging you on social media, or making a purchase. They have read your website content, watched videos, followed your social media pages, and most likely read reviews of your product or service.
- You are not pitching a sale—you are answering questions to help the potential client make their decision to purchase.
As you can see, there is a world of difference in the thought processes your salespeople should possess when it comes to selling online vs. offline.
If you have yet to create an online presence, understand that now is the time to do so. The e-commerce world is only going to continue growing, and there’s no end in sight.
One thing is a given: If your business is not yet online, it is time to bite the bullet and create a proper web presence.
If you are a business owner who has yet to get started selling online or are a novice, now that you have been alerted to the big difference between online and offline sales, we can get you started off on the right foot by suggesting you and your sales team read the following blog post: The Sales and Marketing Process in the Digital Age: How a Salesperson Can Excel in the Digital Age.
If you own a brick-and-mortar store and are ready to get started selling online, we strongly suggest you also add this blog post to your research material before getting started: Why Marketing, (and Selling) Online Can Yield Big Results for Brick-and-Mortar Stores.
The Importance of Social Selling
One important thing to take into consideration when creating an online presence for your business is that having just a website won’t cut it. To really make an impact and obtain more sales, you need social media pages where you are active, sharing your product or service, providing helpful information, answering questions, and engaging with potential clients.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus—these are the main players in social media, and social selling is a BIG deal.
To help you and your online sales team understand the importance of social selling, watch the following video from Jill Konrath, an expert in sales strategies, a thought leader, a speaker, and a best-selling author in the sales sphere:
In the blog post accompanying the video, Jill discusses social selling from the point of view of our own Thomas von Ahn. Below is a section of the blog post where Jill discusses Thomas and the successful sales strategies of Viral Solutions:
Let me give you an example of how different social selling is from our traditional approach. Thomas von Ahn of Viral Solutions recently shared with me that 58% of his company’s revenue comes directly from LinkedIn initial contacts.
What’s he doing? First off, he’s got his bases covered with a decent profile. And, he’s not one bit like those pushy, self-promotional people who are looking for a quick hit. Instead, he’s a go-giver, in it for the long haul because it’s the right thing to do.
Tom has joined numerous groups that are frequented by his targeted customer. He participates in lots of group discussions. He even asks good probing questions to start his own discussions.
Tom regularly gives free advice — without expecting it to immediately turn into a business. He offers free e-books and free white papers. He shares good resources that can help solve problems his company can’t. And, he even wishes people happy birthday.
Don’t Discount the Importance of Selling Offline
We have spent the brunt of this blog post discussing online selling and the difference between that of offline sales, along with tips for successfully selling online. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t emphasize the importance of never abandoning your offline sales potential.
No matter how advanced and technological our society becomes, there will always be people who prefer dealing with someone in person, face-to-face. The tried and true tactics of offline selling—such as the 5 major ones mentioned in this post from the forums of American Express—still ring true today.
Combining Offline, Online, and Social Selling Is a Recipe for Success
You must have a combination of successful offline, online, and social selling tactics. Let’s recap the main points to keep in mind to combine the 3 as a recipe for success:
- Understanding the difference between offline and online selling
- The psychology of your potential clients in the 2 different spheres
- Using offline tactics that are tried and true
- Taking the advice we have offered here for online sales
- Having dynamite and very active social media pages
If you have all of the above tactics in place, you just can’t help but accelerate your business toward bigger and better success.
If you think you need assistance with your business, we offer free consultations. We go deep, performing a comprehensive audit of your business to discern what will work best for you. Read this blog post to understand more about the Ultimate Marketing Audit and Strategy Sessions of Viral Solutions.