Salesmanship in the Internet Age

When you create an online presence, your business is no longer local. Every campaign is global.

For example, if your cupcake factory is in Rosebud, Saskatchewan, and your delicious creations spread through digital word-of-mouth to the extent that you are now getting several orders a day from as far away as India, you may want to revamp your business plan to include international orders. (That would be a good problem to have!)

On the Internet, content is king. Post good stuff and it might spread like a good cupcake. There are no guarantees, but if your content is bad, you’ll be the only one reading it. If it’s really terrible and offensive, sometimes it goes viral because people can’t believe you posted it and will share it with their friends. That kind of viral isn’t creating disciples.

Technology has made us connect more, but it hasn’t dissipated what we have to do for business development. It is because of the ease of its use that we tend to multitask more and make more connections. Thus decision-makers are harder to reach. They may only answer the phone for people they already know. Unless you’re still having a lot of success with it, cold calling by telephone may not work as well as it used to. It is more disruptive than digital communications, and your story better be smooth and to the point if you want to have any hope of getting the appointment.

Jill Konrath’s book Snap Selling (Portfolio, 2010) describes how to navigate the hurry-up sales tactics, get to the point, convey what you have to say, and ask for the close in five minutes or less. Even though people are busy and have less time to be subjected to schmoozing, salesmanship 101 still applies.

digital ageSelling has become more of a combined effort, using Internet tools to cull information, follow up, confirm, and share documents. Transactions are so global now that you never have to leave your home office computer for a face-to-face call thanks to Skype and other video conferencing sites.

Direct selling is a delicate dance on the Internet. What may look all right and even work in an email will have red and yellow blinking lights in social networks and read “Spam! Spam! Spam!”

Write well, or at least better than everyone else. The Internet has opened new platforms to share a message and promote your business, but that is not an excuse to put literacy on the shelf. If anything, you make a stronger impression if you take the time and effort to be a better writer by rereading and editing what you write. There is no excuse for stepping away from grammar, punctuation, and especially spelling.

An excerpt from Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age by Debbie Elicksen.

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