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Sales

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Old-fashioned cash register.

Photo by Jessica Rabbit

Finally, it’s time to close the sale!

If you’ve done everything else right up to this point, people should be landing on your sales pages already ‘warmed up’ to buy. Your free content should have taught them to respect and trust you as an authority on your craft/art/business, and they may well have engaged in conversation with you, and started to feel they are getting to know you. But there’s still some work to do …

Where Should You Put Your Sales Pages?

Fashion store with clothes in foreground and sales assistant in background

Photo by Michale

This will depend on your market and audience. Most successful people I see online are making their sales pages prominent but discreet – like a sales assistant in a high class shop. You need to make it clear that you are selling something, and make it obvious and easy for people to buy from you. But you don’t want to hit them over the head with a sales pitch the moment they land on your site.

Screenshot of my website with links to sales pages highlighted, along top of screen and down the sidebar

Personally, I’ve gone from having a website that was 99% sales copy to one that is 99% educational/useful information and 1% sales copy. But I make sure that the 1% is clearly visible on every single page of my site, in the links along the top and in the sidebar, just under my photo.

Action!

Placing your sales pages

Are your sales pages prominent but discreet – like a good sales assistant?

Are you sales pages linked to from every page of your website?


Good Sales Copywriting Is Essential

Professional Internet marketers have measured and analysed every single aspect of their websites, in order to squeeze out as many sales as possible. Overwhelmingly, they have concluded that good sales copywriting is essential to closing as many sales as possible.

If you have a gift for writing, it’s worth investing time to learn some basic copywriting skills. Copyblogger is an excellent resource (start with Copywriting 101), as is James Chartrand’s site Men with Pens. I’ve also found The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly useful. It was written in the 1980s, long before the internet came along, and is a little dated now, but Bly gives an excellent explanation of the fundamental principles of writing in order to sell.

If you don’t enjoy writing, or the idea of writing a sales pitch makes you squirm, you should seriously consider hiring a professional copywriter to write your sales pages for you. These pages are too important to leave to chance — poorly written sales pages could be the equivalent of a leaky bucket on your website, with potential sales draining away. If you do hire a copywriter, make sure they have experience of writing sales copy for the web. Ask to see examples of their work and for testimonials from satisfied clients.

Action!

How good is your sales copy?

Do you want to write your sales copy yourself?
If so – read the above resources, practise your copywriting skills – and try to get feedback from customers about the impression it makes on them.

Do you need to hire a professional copywriter?

Experiment with different versions of your sales copy – measure the results and evaluate which versions result in most sales.


Make It Easy for People to Do What You Want!

Always keep in mind the question: What do I ultimately want people to DO as a result of visiting my site?

If you want them to buy online:
Make sure you have a fully-functioning online shop, complete with a system for processing payments. Test it thoroughly — the last thing you want is for people to try to buy from you, then give up in disgust if the system doesn’t work!

I have a PayPal Merchant Account which allows me to take payment by credit card, either directly on my website or via e-mail. The PayPal system is pretty good, although their customer service is appalling. I stick with them in spite of the poor service because PayPal is a known and trusted brand — most people feel more comfortable handing over their credit card details to PayPal then to a service they’ve never heard of.

If you want them to contact you with sales enquiries:
Offer multiple ways of contacting you, and display these prominently on every page of your site. Some people like e-mail, others don’t feel comfortable unless they can pick up the phone and talk to a real live human being.

I’m constantly amazed by the number of websites I come across where I want to contact the owner and it takes me ages to find their contact form or e-mail address.

I can recall another website where I left for messages on the owner’s answerphone, asking them to contact me urgently so that I could buy from them, with no response. On the verge of giving up, I e-mailed my query, even though it was fairly complicated and time-consuming to do this — and I received a response two minutes later! The owner was clearly more comfortable communicating by e-mail than by telephone. But from a business perspective, his behaviour was insane. He very nearly lost my sale, and I’m sure he has lost many others for the same reason.

Like a lot of things on the web, this isn’t rocket science, but if you do it well, it will inspire confidence in your customers – and confidence inspires repeat business and referrals.

Action!

Closing the sale

Can people easily buy from you online?
Can they easily contact you with queries?

Are your shop and contact details linked to from every page of your site?

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