Being a Salesperson on the Web…mmm…Not Exactly

    I am a student of human behavior. I am certain that my interest in how people interact started at a young age and grew as I went to college and graduate school. One of my favorite activities is to watch salespeople develop rapport and secure a client. As an outsider, who is basically a fly on the wall, watching these interactions I am always interested in these salespeople’s skills and how they go about their business. I don’t think it takes a person with an advanced degree in psychology to see if someone is genuine or just out to make a sale. I think it becomes more obvious to the potential consumer. When people want to genuinely help people with their needs and wants, it is natural, unforced, and free of sales games. I have seen people with what I would call bad sales skills become very successful out of shear desire to want to help people. I will take someone with sincerity and passion over a person with impressive sales skills anytime.

    I am going to over simplify the sales process for a moment, and perhaps reanalyze it in a future writing. Simply put the sales process comes down to 2 elements: Communication and Relationship.

    More than Words

    Let’s talk about communication briefly, as I do not have the time or space to fully explore it. I don’t think it would surprise anyone that communication is more than words. Words are extremely important and powerful however, words are only a small portion of the communication process. Words by themselves are quite frankly…empty. Even the words that you read on this page lack so much. I am always frustrated when I write, because the words alone cannot express, or convey what I am truly trying to say, as I try to make my point. While it is true I am not the best writer, if you could see the emotion and passion on my face as I write, I can assure you that I am fully aware of the problems of putting words on a page. ARRRRGH!

    Emote with Me

    Emotions are important to the communication process. Whether it be the salesperson or the potential consumer, the individual’s emotions and the ability to react to them immediately is crucial to the process. When someone’s tone becomes more excitable, or there is a sense of sadness, anger, or joy, it is absolutely key to be able to respond appropriately. This makes the communication process not only easier, but less frustrating for the all the parties involved.

    The Eyes Don’t Lie

    If I were sitting in front of you right now you would be able to look at my face and into my eyes. Typically the face and eyes give us clues as to the genuineness of someone when they speak with you, especially when the subject matter has significant impact on us. We will have a tendency to look a little deeper into the eyes, check the facial expressions, compare it with the words and make a determination whether a person can be trusted. When I was working as an intern in a mental hospital, the very first thing I would do is look at the eyes of the new patient. I could immediately get clues as to the type of person I was dealing with, or if my point was being communicated.

    Hand Jive

    Body language is extremely important, yet one of the most underestimated. This is partially because we don’t pay conscious attention to it, yet it gives us strong clues into intention, passion, and believability. There have been numerous studies conducted on people crossing their arms in front of themselves vs. opening their arms, leaning forward versus leaning back in conversation and the effects on specific physical behaviors of the person being engaged in conversation. Many people talk with their hands. I have been told I am one of them, part of this may be because I get so excited about the topics I discuss I want to emphasize a point. I am also a “hugger”. No words need to be communicated in a hug, yet the message is powerful.


    What about “relationship”? Humans are built for relationships. No one functions emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually healthy when they do not have relationships. How many studies have we seen that demonstrate that people who are married, or have significant relationships tend to live longer and have less health problems than people who remain alone. Beyond this we want to work with people we know, or think that we know. We want people to care about us, to care about what we care about, to be genuine, and show empathy toward a situation. This my friends, is “relationship”. Honestly, people want to work with people they can trust, that they like, and they can count on.

    The internet presents a set of problems for communication and relationship that even the best salesperson cannot overcome. Let’s talk about these for a moment.

    1. The Internet Lacks a Human Face
    2. The Internet Lacks Emotion
    3. The Internet Lacks Physical Responses
    4. The Internet Lacks Vocal Inflection
    5. The internet does not foster true relationships

    The internet does have words, but as I stated earlier it is progressively more difficult to express them because it lacks so many elements of the communication process, much less trying to develop some sort of relationship. I understand that there are a few successes with dating websites etc, but there are far more failures, and ultimately those people who are successful still must meet face to face. Here is then are the issues of trying to sell on the internet. It is nearly impossible to communicate and create meaningful, long lasting relationships on the web. So then if you are trying to practice your same face to face communication and relationship skills on the web, you are not going to be very successful.

    So what do you do?

    Since you cannot employ the same strategies, then you need to create trust, and relationship in a different way.

    1. Provide updated accurate information your potential consumer wants

      There is nothing more powerful that will create faster consumer trust then understanding what the consumer actually wants and getting it to them in a user friendly manner. I am sure you think you are providing useful information, and maybe you have good information, but do you know what your consumers really want. Here is a clue, if you look at your website statistics,(I hope you have some package) and you see that your consumers are exiting specific pages they are going to after a brief period of time. Chances are you are not providing the information that they want. Further make sure you update your information on a regular basis. There are two reasons for this. First of all, nothing is static, so you need to update your website all the time. Add new content, change information that has changed. Second, the search engines like it when you update your site, it tells them you are being active, and trying to provide the most up to date information.

    2. Make sure your information is FREE

      I have never understood why people would require sign ups for information they can find somewhere else for free. While you think you are getting a significant number of customers from forced sign ups, I can guarantee this statement, you don’t know how many didn’t sign up and are now working with someone who is providing that information at no personal identity cost to them.

    3. Always Protect the Consumer Identity

      We used to talk about this as privacy. However, it is now a bigger issue than just privacy. It is taking active steps to protect people’s identity. This is about ensuring your potential clients that your business is going to do everything within your business power to ensure that their identity does not get passed out. This means that you will delete their names from your data base when they want it deleted. It means that you are not going to put them on some email list, unless they request it. It means that you want to keep them as anonymous as they want to be kept anonymous.

    4. Discuss Their Issues NOT Your Service

      If you want to really communicate to people and you want to develop relationships with them, then in your content talk about the issues that affect them. When I go to websites the owners want to talk about how great their service is. No one cares. First of all, the internet consumer is skeptical, they can’t see your face, they can’t see your body language, you are nothing more than some cheap salesperson giving them a line. I know that is not your intention, however, that is what the consumer sees and believes. If you are going to change that, then you need to truly consider, what are your consumers concerned about, and then discuss it. If you feel you have to talk about your service, put it somewhere on a back page.

    5. Don’t try to be everything to everybody

      We all know the old saying, “when you try to be everything to everybody, then you become nothing to no one”. I know that you might service more than one type of individual, however, when you try to make your website so big with so much information to include everyone it becomes to overwhelming to the consumer and they have too many choices. The best answer is to start creating more websites that will specific speak to the different member of your business. Too many times I have seen website with so many links to so many places that people are overwhelmed with information. You would never do that in face to face conversation. If a person must sell then you talk about selling, not buying. Therefore you need to simplify the life for the consumer. If you make it simple, more user friendly you will achieve greater success.


      All in all you cannot continue to be the salesperson on the internet that you are in person. You do need to have it in your style buy you do not have the advantages previously mentioned on the internet as you do in person. You have to “tune in” to you client. You have to think like they think. You have to stop thinking about your next sale, and think about what is important to your consumer. If you can truly stop thinking about your dollar bottom line, and start thinking like your consumer, you will find that your internet business will take a turn for the best, you will develop better customers, that will turn into clients, that will turn into great relationships for life. Really, isn’t that the bottom line?


      Best Success for Your e-Business


      Dr. Jay

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