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Adapting traditional sales techniques to the online reality

Sales funnels are essential when you are marketing your online course — or trying to sell anything online, for that matter. Websites get a lot more traffic than traditional stores who have seen a dramatic decrease in footfall as it is. However, having people visit your course site or your landing page does not guarantee they will also make a purchase.

Read more: 4 Basic steps on how to set up a sales funnel for your online course

Furthermore, traditionally ‘aggressive’ methods don’t work anymore, as people can simply click on the small x on top if an automated pop-up box asks them if they want to use a debit or a credit card to buy.

Adapting traditional sales techniques to the online reality

And since you can’t possibly be present online to interact with every potential customer, you need to find the right tools to replace the classic in-person salesman who used to close the sale.

Here are some traditional techniques that can be spun to work in today’s online environment.

Ask your customers questions

People buy products and services when they feel that they have a need for them. Skilled salespeople know how to assess a person and come up with a series of inquires that will either make them aware of a certain need or simply build one that wasn’t previously there. I’m sure all of us have at least once exited a shop with more than we thought we’d get going in.

Questions allow you to gain insight into people’s opinions and help adjust your offers so that they are more appealing.

Online, Instagram is a platform where marketers use this technique. They ask questions to start conversations or even ask the audience to ask questions so that they find the right openings to offer instant solutions materialized in the products or services they are selling.

Read more: Using Instagram to boost your online business

Sometimes it pays to assume

There is that popular pun that goes “when you assume you make an ass of you and me”. While that may stand true in most contexts, when it comes to closing a sale, being presumptuous shows that you have a strongly positive frame of mind and the highest confidence in what you are selling.

Your authority as a connoisseur of your niche is why people follow you on social media and why they look at your site or landing page. If they are there it means that you share some common interests and the way you are expressing yourself (your brand) is appealing to them.

Read more: 6 Personal branding tips for knowledge entrepreneurs

So one way to close a sale on your course is to let them know that you have no doubt whatsoever they are the best candidates for what you are offering and the deal will be mutually satisfying.

Take a cue from tennis

Tennis is a very popular sport these days if we are to look at the attendance and broadcast ratings all the great tournaments get. It’s a rather elevated game with a wonderful back and forth component and an easy to follow point system.

It’s the same with your customers – you are moving the ball in both courts and if you pay enough attention you can notice every objection or pain point that gets sent your way. For every one of those, you should present a way in which your course can address it (sending the ball back).

This approach will seem more helpful than aggressive and when that ball stops coming back, you know you’ve made the sale. On social media, this presents itself as a good opportunity to tie consumer or follower content to your brand.

Read more: Social media platforms to consider when marketing your online course

Emphasize the benefits of your course

When I was teaching sales techniques to new-hires, I liked to use the example of something we all carry around almost all the time – a ballpoint pen. Presenting its characteristics was easy – the shape, the color, the way it opened were all self-explanatory. Its uses were again plain since there are numerous situations when you might need to jot something down.

Yet neither characteristics nor uses sell.

Benefits do. The ways in which a pen can make one’s life better.

I have heard many creative accounts from attendees. The epitome for me was when one of them said that his pen can improve the romantic life of whoever had it as it was high quality, unlikely to lead to stains thus requiring less time for laundry and more time for personal endeavors. Far-fetched, I know, but you get my point.

Showing the value that your course will add to the learner’s life is what will sell far faster than its description. It’s similar to the technique described above but instead of addressing pain points you are presenting a future ideal situation.

Listen to Elvis

It’s Now or Never” was released back in 1960 and sold over 20 million copies. The music is great, the artist is a legend and the message of the song rings very contemporarily when it comes to closing a sale.

Creating a sense of urgency in order to convince customers to act is even older than the song. It is, however, still terribly effective. People have always been afraid of missing out, even more so in today’s fast-paced world.

Adding a timed offer into your feed will certainly encourage your customers to click that ‘buy’ button before it expires and they get left out. The key is to present it in a positive way and be consistent – it’s ok to extend the offer a day or two but don’t go into permanent discount because people will notice and you’ll be more like the boy who cried ‘wolf’ than like a successful marketer.

Closing thoughts

Though the environments in which sales are conducted have drastically changed with the digital revolution, human psychology is pretty much the same. Rest assured you can achieve great results selling your online courses, as the old selling techniques just need a bit of dusting and a fresh social media twist.

FREE Resource: Selling online courses using INDIE

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