There's one heck of a lot of print out there about the huge benefits of Internet Marketing and how it's going to make or break your business. By now, we all have a pretty good idea how to build a brand, create a buzz and drive traffic to websites.
Funny how there's not nearly so much out there about Sales. Yet, at the end of the day, success in e-business is about sales, isn't it? The proof is in the pudding - or in its absence! Lots of dot-coms have turned into dot-bombs because, even though they spent tons of money getting folks to their sites, they overlooked the tiny fact they needed to sell them once they got there. Sad thing is, many of those visitors would have bought happily and could have left delighted.
Don't get me wrong. Marketing is an essential part of the e-commerce equation. Marketing “paves the way” for Sales. But it's only where Sales and Marketing overlap that buying happens. Think of it like one of those Venn diagrams you probably remember from school:
Now, imagine pulling these circles apart, so Sales gets farther and farther away from Marketing. How much buying do you have left? (Hint: Less and less until you have none. Zero. Nada.) Now imagine pushing these circles together, so Sales and Marketing increasingly overlap, and you can literally watch buying increase!
Before they get to your website, your potential customers take in lots of external influences and compare those messages to their internal desires and values. This is where Marketing plays an important role in creating the "propensity to buy." But as soon as a visitor begins to interact with your "store," all the marketing in the world isn't going to save you if your site doesn't know how to sell.
Think of it this way. You see an advertisement on TV where a car manufacturer tells you it makes the safest car out there, and the ad prominently displays lots of images of an adorable, safe baby and happy parents enjoying their worry-free car ride. Suppose you've got a baby. You want her riding in the safest car. You think maybe you should look into buying this car. So off you and your baby head to the dealership. You walk in with the "propensity to buy," but you still need to be sold. You want lots of questions answered about options, service, which model would best suit your needs. You want to test drive the car. You want to be treated like you matter. You want to feel good about the decision to buy. Without a salesperson holding your hand through the sales process, treating you the way you want to be treated and selling you the way you want to be sold, you probably aren't going to buy a thing from this dealership, even if they do sell the safest car in the world.
Or think of a smaller-ticket purchase. I wanted a photo-quality printer, because I'm playing around with digital cameras these days. I came across an advertisement that promised the product would give me "superior quality at the incredible price of $175". I enthusiastically trotted off to that store and in the blink of one of my eyes, found myself standing in a huge aisle filled with printers. All of a sudden, I got to wondering if maybe there wasn't an even better printer for my needs. I pushed a few of the test buttons and got some test printouts. Holding them in my hand, I looked for a salesperson. No one around. I read some of the fact sheets, but still had questions. Still no salesperson in sight. I've still got the printouts right here on my desk, but I didn't buy a printer.
Marketing got me to the store, but it didn't create the sale. Marketing can't; Sales can, and does. Had someone bothered to help me, I might have bought that $175 printer. Who knows, they might even have been able to talk me into the next model up. Or they might have helped me figure out I really would be better off with a different make. It just as easily could have gone another way: even without benefit of sales help, I might have bought that $175 printer, carted it home, installed it and been dissatisfied with my purchase. And if I'd bought it and it worked okay? Well, I'd still be wondering if I'd got the best deal for my needs, which still leaves me somewhere short of being completely delighted. So, the end result in this case is that no amount of money that business spends on marketing is ever going to induce me to return, 'cause they haven't shown me they acknowledge and value the role of Sales, which is another way of saying they haven't shown me they acknowledge and value me!