The Ventas Group

Wanted: Online Salespeople


It’s the holiday shopping season. Have you been shopping online? I have!


For a lot of things, shopping online is as easy as 1, 2, 3.


Until you try to buy a set of pots and pans.


Like purchasing paint brushes, the advice to ‘buy the best you can afford’ really becomes meaningless when faced with prices ranging from $100 to $2500.


What’s the difference between 3-ply and 5-ply? Why is this set of 5-ply so much less than that set of 3-ply? Is the only real difference the price? How can you assess value for money?


Sadly, the information on brands’ websites is often more confusing than helpful.


How Do You Demonstrate Value Online? 


It was the same when we purchased a new kitchen sink; all the specs were identical, but the prices ranged wildly. In the end we trekked out to the showroom just so we could learn what made it worth spending the money we did. In this cookware case, a salesperson could have helped us understand why this set of pots was $500 more than that one.


E-Commerce Isn’t Always E-asy


Turns out I’m not the only one flummoxed by online shopping like this. A survey of my LinkedIn connections revealed someone who was highly motivated to purchase some skin care products on Cyber Monday, but became completely overwhelmed and gave up after 30 minutes. This was someone who wanted to spend $, but didn’t.


Someone else made a purchase for specialized footwear online because the local store had closed, but they didn’t fit properly. She ended up having to travel some distance to find the help, and the shoes, she needed.


Good Salespeople = More Sales, Even Online


Should we settle for this in our connected world? Many, maybe even most, purchases can be made without the help of a salesperson, but sometimes you just need the expertise and knowledge of a well-trained salesperson. And in those cases, the right salesperson will not only make the sale now, but if he/she serves the customer’s best interests, he’ll open the door for repeat sales and referrals.


Is it necessary for the sales experience to occur in person? Not at all. Just think how much my friend would have spent on skin care products had she been able to connect with someone who could have answered her questions and guided her to the right products.


Take note e-commerce managers, especially at Calphalon and Ferguson, the digital consumer experience needs to be improved.


How much are you really saving on customer acquisition if your customer walks away in frustration because he doesn’t know what to buy? How many opportunities to sell the higher priced item are missed? Worse, what are these frustrated customers saying about you now?


Don’t waste all the investment you’ve made in your brand and your marketing by having an e-commerce experience that is makes it hard to buy.


Yes, good salespeople are still necessary, even for online shopping.

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