Weekly ads, cold calls, door-to-door salesmen – while it’s easy to feel nostalgic for some of these ‘classic’ selling trademarks, that’s all they really are now: classics. It’s not just important but absolutely necessary that in the 21st century, you’re modeling your sales strategies based on the increasingly interconnected needs of your customers. This means not only embracing social media and maintaining a strong, engaging online presence, but also expanding your reach well beyond your local market and thinking in a global context.
As ecommerce and mobile shopping continue to break down barriers on cross-border shopping, more and more customers could be potentially looking at your business to buy from, regardless of where they live or where you may be located. So, why not get ahead of the curve and proactively appeal to them first?
Here are four key practices that today’s businesses need to consider if they want to sell successfully in our hyper-connected, online world:
1. First, Get Online. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but a whopping 72 percent of SMBs in the United States don’t sell their products online – which, in a marketplace that’s moving further and further online, is tantamount to leaving money on the table. Of course, it takes a little more effort than just setting up a company website alone to increase traffic and sales, but how can you find your footing in cross-border markets and drive potential new customers to your business if you’ve never given them a chance to hear of you before?
2. Social Selling. Old-school businesses might be hesitant to lean on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as necessary ingredients for strong salesmanship, but they would be remiss to ignore how uniquely influential these platforms are. Never before has it been easier to research your customers (or even potential business partners) ahead of time and gauge their likes and dislikes so that you can tailor your marketing efforts directly to their tastes. Maintaining an active social media presence of your own allows to you to then build on and nurture these relationships.
3. Mobile Compatibility. As smartphone penetration rates continue to rise and outpace desktop usage, customers will increasingly rely on their phones or tablets for making quick and convenient purchases. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing – it’s hard to navigate, the text and pictures don’t scale correctly, pages load too slowly (or not at all) – then you can be certain that not only will those customers not make a purchase, but they likely won’t return to try again later. Make your best first impression with customers, no matter where they are or what device they’re using, by optimizing your site for smartphone and tablet compatibility.
4. Language Localization. Thinking in a global context doesn’t just mean catering to everyone all at once, but knowing when, where and how to cater to specific markets around the world. For instance, when you consider that approximately 75 percent of multilingual customers prefer buying from sites in their native language, and over half said they would only buy if these sites provided information in that language, adopting translation services to make your site readable – to anyone, anywhere – is key.
In the Age When the Customer is King
With no shortage of options to choose from or channels to buy through, we’re looking at a world where the customer has never been more empowered than they are today. In an age where the buyer is king, crafting the right customer experience can make or break a business. This means, in addition to the above strategies, making yourself available to the consumer 24/7 and delivering a consistent, seamless experience to any potential customer, anywhere in the world – all of which is possible now with the right technology. No business owner can change the pace of technology or how customers choose to make their purchases. What they can do is change how they factor into those purchasing decisions. By tailoring sales practices to more interconnected and global-friendly strategies, small and medium businesses can open themselves up to markets around the world that they may have never known before.