Jun 25, 2008

10 Ways To Improve Your Online Sales

If you're seeking ways to boost both online and face-to-face sales of products and services, then you might want to know some of the top marketing expert's suggestions.

I've put together a powerful list of 10 simple and easy ways you can improve your online sales, starting right now.


1. Match the product with the message.

A more fancy version of this is if you've been sharing a story about how the cars at your new automobile dealership offer more green options and higher energy efficiency, you might want to link to the top-three selling automobiles you carry that offer greener solutions and demonstrate the impact on the environment or global carbon emissions by choosing the car you offer. A simple graph that shows the difference over the automobiles life, then directing the user towards the car that meets their desired impact, would steer them towards an easier shopping experience.

A less-complicated sales pitch that matches the product with the message would be where, at AspireNow, I wrote an article about how to live your life more successfully. Within that article, I offered a link to a Life Purpose program to help people get more from the interactive workbook and audio CD.

If your customer is searching for tea health benefits, then you ought to offer a way to buy your tea based upon the highest health benefit, depending upon the type of tea you offer. Match what they seek to what you deliver and you'll raise sales by over 30%.

2. Offer a "product bundle" solution.

One of my clients shared with me today that when they included a "bundled" solution of a free mug with any double-order of their products that their average sale price went from $15 to $50 per order. I like 300% return solutions, don't you? So, offer a bundled solution. You'll gain more business in less time.

3. Present a down-sell opportunity when they don't buy the bundle.

If you're seeking a way to capture the people who balk at the "bundle" solution, put a pop-up window when they click out of the store at any point to offer them a chance to give feedback on why they didn't buy OR buy a single product at a discounted price. Studies I've seen show this technique provides valuable feedback into the sales process AND delivers 30% higher sales results of the single item you sell.

4. Offer repeat purchasers of the bundle solution a chance to buy an up-sell.

If people are clicking on the bundle and they've ordered this before, you might then offer an opportunity for the user to buy a bulk huge up-sell. For example, if they buy two + the bonus, they pay $50. But for $500, $5000, or $15,000, they can qualify for extra discounts (or more products) and pay less per order. This is the concept of Costco and other big-box stores in action. People like the option to "super-size" their order - especially when they're buying on a corporate budget. The best time to offer an up-sell is during repeat purchases of a popular product.

Also, if they bought the single product before, make sure they know they can buy the bundle or up-sell bulk, too, if they want to super-size their order, and save time and money.

5. Offer a company purchase plan or corporate purchase program.

If you're selling products or services purchased by corporations, you might consider a company purchase plan. If they sign-up for the corporate purchase agreement (pre-approved orders), they get an opportunity to buy in bulk at a discount. It's basically just another flavor of the up-sell, but targeted towards the corporate purchaser who likes to order off a purchase order or within standard guidelines and where the buyer gets rewarded for saving the company money. Marry the two and you've got a recipe for success! This technique is used by companies like Staples and OfficeMax, but why not for products and services a corporation might buy, like things in the break room, or things they frequently buy or provide for customers. Examples that come to mind include coffee, tea, soda, water, juice, food, shirts, hats, and more.

Are you enjoying this article? Listen to the radio show for extra tips and suggestions, with ideas and stories by the author and CEO of ARRiiVE: Business Solutions, Scott Andrews!

6. Offer a "friends and family" plan.

Network marketers are masters at selling to their friends and family members. Why shouldn't you, too? Give your clients an opportunity to refer their friend(s) and get bonus products or discounts. When you utilize this type of discount or "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" policy, you're taking advantage of the best form of marketing there is: word of mouth. The timeshare industry is great at capturing referrals at the point of sale. When a visitor purchases a timeshare vacation package, they then offer them a "free vacation" or additional vacation time if they simply refer five to ten family members and friends. When is the best time to capture the referral? When the customer buys! Make sure you don't miss the opportunity and give people a reward if they refer a friend or family member. This is the concept Seth Godin talks about in his marketing book about starting an "Idea Virus" for your company.

7. Offer cross-sell opportunities within the shopping cart when they've already selected another item.

By cross-selling, don't automatically make them choose the cross-sell. Just offer it and say "other customers found these items useful" or "other popular products" or "products that match this product's color" or something similar. When you offer cross-sell opportunities, you can raise your gross margin from 6% to 18% simply by suggesting some products that offer you a higher margin from the loss-leader they first put in their cart. I used this technique once with selling computers. I discounted the primary CPU, Monitor, and Printer to 6%, but left the peripheral products off the price list. Printers have lower margins and offer you little profit. Print cartridges, on the other hand, have considerably higher margins. Service contracts, software protection programs (virus protection) and software renewal licenses offer high margins. Offer these at the point of sale and you'll increase your sales and profit percentage per customer dramatically. The customer bought from me, and I'd always ask them if they wanted to add the peripheral products with margins between 28% to 50%. As a result, I increased my profit per sale from 6% to 18%. Triple the profit is a number that works for me!

The best time to offer a cross-sell is during the order checkout process. This process is utilized by Apple Store quite effectively.

8. Put items on sale at the top of the page and at the bottom of the page.

People like getting a good deal, so show the sale items above the fold and near the top of any page where you list those products. When you walk down a mall, you'll notice that many stores will put their "on sale today" sign in their window. You walk in the store and a clerk says "How can I help you today?" You can say "I'm seeking the item on sale from the window." They then can say "Oh, I love that skirt! Did you see the cute top that matches it perfectly?" and then they're interacting with you. It ought to be the same online.

The back of the store also will include any seasonal deals. Are you including both specials and seasonal deals in your pricing strategies? If so, make sure to sprinkle some of the hot deals above the fold, then additional deals at the bottom of the page so you catch additional orders on their way out. In addition, make sure you include bundles and bulk purchases near the sale product links, too, or in the store ordering page.

9. Offer alternative solutions.

Is the item out of stock? Sometimes, you can still capture a sale by suggesting a similar product that might meet the need. Don't leave your customers empty without a suggestion for an alternative solution!

I cracked up when I saw Frank Kern use the marketing ploy "Buy this e-book today. We're only offering 101 of these before they'll be sold out and I'll never offer that one again!" Now, whether or not Frank stopped sales at 101 or not (I highly doubt it) is beside the point. He simply put urgency into the mix. However, what if he did stop selling the e-book? He could offer you an ALTERNATIVE that perhaps costs less and offers more, and make you feel like you got an ever better deal, right? Don't leave your customer holding an empty bag. Give them something to put in the bag. Perhaps a different color, flavor, size, or type of product will fit the bill. Maybe they don't want black, they want white. Maybe they want the opposite of what they bought. Whatever you do, just give them a choice and you'll have at least a chance to sell something, versus nothing. Give them an alternative and you'll increase your sales, guaranteed.


In addition, one step many companies miss is when a product is returned. If you are returning one product, can we suggest an alternative that might work better for you? By simply adding this sales-oriented step into the customer service return process, you can capture an additional 5 - 25% sales and recoup the lost business. The alternative product at the point of return minimizes your cost of product returns and also offers an extra step in customer service that many customers will appreciate.

10. Make the customer's navigation of your site and store functional so it is easy to buy from you.

How many steps does it take to complete a sale? Is it easy to sign-up for your newsletter? Can they register to buy in one easy process?

Think of this scenario: Two stores selling the same product offer different ways to purchase. Store A requires the visitor to go to the bottom of the third page and then navigate through three store pages in order to purchase the hottest new pair of shoes. Store B has the hottest shoes on the first page, above the fold, and the client is completing their order by their third page, in total. Who do you think sells more shoes per visitor? Right! Store B.

Make sure you offer an purchasing process that makes it easier to do business with you! If you're seeking help with your sales process or online selling presence, contact a professional, such as ARRiiVE Business Solutions (Call 805-459-6939) to help you improve your processes to match industry best-practice solutions.

If you're missing any of these opportunities to increase your sales, you're missing out on revenue, profit, and additional orders. Take the time to shore-up your ordering process and see if you can't capture a higher percentage of success over the next year by following these steps to success!

Listen to the ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Radio Show on "10 Ways To Improve Your Online Sales" with special bonus tip by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions:


Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

Jun 16, 2008

Executive Goal Setting and Achieving

I recently dug back into my process of setting goals that enabled me to realize 70% of my goals each year from 1996 - 2001. For some reason, I got away from that system in 2001, and spent several years not achieving things quite the same way.

This year, I re-implemented my old high-success system into my goal-setting approach to daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, and 10-year goals. Yes, I'm that extensive.

The whole list may be found at AspireNow's blog. However, only a subset of those goals apply to my corporate goal-setting. I DO suggest you review the whole list, because many executives make the mistake of focusing ONLY on their corporate goals and then wonder 10 years down the road why they have no life balance. Don't make that mistake!

A proven process for executive goal setting:

If you're wanting to zero in on your corporate and team goals, I DO suggest setting aside some time for these goals. This article is also featured on one of ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Radio Shows:

Here is the process I recommend you use to implement your executive goals:

1. How you write each goal matters!

Use the phrase "I am..." with each goal.
Use "On or before..." for dates.
Use "Or less" or "Or more" for quantities.

2. Write each goal on a 3" x 5" index card.

On the index card, list the category, such as personal, team, or career, then write the goal underneath that category.

3. Also put the goal on your computer. Create a computer dream board with your goals.

After you complete your index cards, I suggest you also create a dream board with your goals. Create a dream board for your computer and your physical space. I recommend Orange Peel's dream board computer software to also put this on your computer.

Start Creating Your Vision Board Today!

4. Create a physical vision board to see your goals throughout the day, too.

On your physical dream board in your office, I recommend you put each goal under a category:

1. Personal Development

2. Team Development

3. Career Long-term

Then, put your top goal - or top three goals - under each category. If you must write more than one goal on your index card, at least keep them categorized by Personal, Team, and Career goals. If find it most effective to separate them out this way.

5. Revisit, Revise, Renew.

Make sure to revisit your goals each day morning and before you quit work for the day. Also, revisit them each week, if a short-term goal, or each month, if a long-term goal. Do a complete review each quarter to see if revisions in scheduling, teams, approach, or other aspects of action must be addressed to ensure you realize your goals each year. Check off any completed goal. Add new goals as you have the space, time, and ability to take on more challenges into your work flow.

By following this system, you'll not only set more goals, you'll also achieve more of the goals you set for yourself, your company, and your career. I strongly recommend you utilize this system of executive goal setting and achieving more in your aspirations so that you can truly say you've "ARRIVED" in your career.

Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

Jun 11, 2008

Listen to the ARRiiVE Show

Check out the recent show I recorded at ARRiiVE: Innovations In Business Show on "Striking While The Fire Is Hot" and "The Power of a DROP" Two powerful sales techniques reviewed in one show!

To listen to the show, visit: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/37798

Also, sign up for our blog news using the RSS or Email links in the top-right of this blog, and sign up for the AspireNow Newsletter to be kept informed about future show dates!

Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

Executive Team Building - Don't Waste Their Time

In team-building exercises for executives, one of the biggest challenges is not in planning the event itself, but in properly structuring the activities and putting thought into how to facilitate your event.

It is not enough to plan a date to meet, invite your leadership team, schedule an outside expert, and then figure you'll discuss key strategic subjects and expect anything useful to result.

You can all go play golf together and you might get a little better at golf. Or, you can spend three days rafting down rivers and you might eventually get better at rafting down rivers!

When planning executive team building, more attention is often paid to the executive retreat location, the recreational activities and food choices than the substance and exercises to create results to the team's challenges.

Facilitated exercises must be more than justification for expenditures. They must be the core of the event!

If your company spends for a luxury venue but fails to set objectives, goes soft on facilitation, and dedicates only three hours or a half day for the key exercises, then I'd argue that you're really not doing the executive retreat to accomplish anything other than having fun together. There's nothing wrong with having fun - we all need to have fun as leaders in business just as in other parts of life.

But take the extra steps to ensure your executive retreat is planned properly, executed flawlessly, and thoroughly debriefed, and you'll likely learn a lasting result that can be developed further each year you get the team together.

If you're seeking a resource for your executive event, consider utilizing my friend Andrew Long's company, Critical Path Finders, to help you plan and facilitate your retreat. He's got the right perspective and does an excellent job!

Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

Jun 5, 2008

How Bloggers Make Money On The Net

Have you been reading about bloggers making money online and thinking about jumping on the blog bandwagon?

Before you do, consider this:

Less than 1% of blogs make any significant money.

Okay, now that you know this, you might want to know what the successful bloggers do to break free from the pack of other bloggers and make more money.

How bloggers make money from web blogs:

1. Successful bloggers use a clean and simple design.

With a design that is easy to navigate and makes it easy to (a) subscribe, (b) follow, (c) read, and (d) drill down into articles, a blog is highly more likely to keep the visitors they attract longer and also draw more repeat visitors.

2. Successful bloggers provide high quality, original, and unique content.

If you're providing information on video cameras, you might provide a series of articles reviewing cameras. Other times, you can provide information comparing one type of camera to another. In other blog posts, you might highlight how people capture images using new techniques. You may engage bloggers by holding contests. You could request a guest post. Or, you might ask other people for feedback about an idea. The more interactive you make your blog, the higher the traffic you'll receive.

3. Successful bloggers publish consistently and often.

I've noticed that the most successful bloggers publish between 5 and 20 articles per week. That's a lot of writing. They are also consistent. I think there are ways to boost production twofold that won't take that much more time, by writing more reviews of books, technology, and techniques. We'll see how this technique pays off in the upcoming months.

4. Successful bloggers optimize by spreading the word.

You can spread the word for your blog by burning your feed to various feedburning engines. Another technique is to post into forums and other blogs, and link back to your blog. Last, you can also use technology, like blog rolls, or directories, like Stumble Upon, Digg, Blog Carnivals, Facebook and other means, to promote the traffic to your blog.

These are the tenements of the blogs I've seen that make money. Most bloggers don't get immediately success. The most successful blogs I've seen took months to build. Some of the best blogs took years before they took off. And, the rules of the game have changed. Many new blogs are taking longer to reach the tipping point because so many more people are blogging. Commit to a long-term strategy and follow your plan regularly, and your blog is much more likely to enable you to make money from your blog.

Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.