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August 24, 2011

The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Online – A SPN Exclusive Article

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Unfortunately, the majority of commercial websites found on the Internet today will never make any money. There are a number of reasons for that, but the main reason is that most webmasters do not understand how to sell stuff on the Internet.

Some people argue that they don’t need to learn how to sell from their websites, because their websites are information-centric and rely only on advertising.

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the reason people say things like this is because they don’t have a clue how to sell, and it is easier to say that they are not in the sales business, than to admit that they don’t know what to do.

Putting The Cart Before The Horse

While it is important to have traffic in place to test your sales materials on-site, the majority of webmasters put too much focus on traffic and too little focus on improving sales conversions.

But consider this, if a webmaster can increase his/her sales conversion rate from 0.2% to 2%, that will result in ten times the sales from the same amount of traffic!!

A tool that professional Internet Marketers use is something called “A/B Split Testing” and “Multivariable Testing.” The purpose of this testing is to make minor changes to your website sales copy and presentation, to test the different versions in real-time with real traffic to see which version produces the best results.

For many years, I did not do split testing, because it was difficult to set up the software. But that changed a few years back when Google introduced a free split testing tool, available at: http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer

It is easy-to-use, and it is an essential tool for making your sales copy and presentation more effective, increasing conversion rates.

For those who fear the idea of Google collecting too much information about their business, another really good free split testing tool can be found at: http://www.splittesting.com

To Sell More Stuff, Stop Trying To Sell

This is advice that confuses many people who hear it, but if you can understand the nuance of what I am telling you here, you will absolutely, positively sell more stuff!!

A lot of people, even people who make a living in sales, misunderstand the role of the sales person in the sales transaction.

Pay close attention to what I am getting ready to tell you…

The sales person’s job IS NOT to convince someone to buy something that they do not want or need.

Instead, the sales person’s job IS to answer the questions that consumers have, in the process of helping people make an educated-decision about those products or services that they do want or need.

When you are trying too hard to “convince” the customer to buy your stuff, the customer gets the sense that you are more concerned about what is best for you, rather than what is in their best interests.

However, when you are clearly interested in “answering a person’s questions and concerns” about a product or service, the customer will see you as someone who is more trustworthy, because you are helping them, more than helping yourself. When you take the time to help a consumer make a “good buying decision”, you greatly improve the “buying experience” for the customer and people will be more willing to recommend you to others.

Only Talk To Your Target Audience

It is extremely important for you to understand that not all of the people who land on your sales page will want to buy what you are selling.

Let’s say for the sake of example that you are selling advertising. There are generally four types of prospects for your advertising services. Those who:

1. Don’t believe that they should buy advertising;

2. Have purchased advertising previously, but lost money with it;

3. Always buy advertising from advertisers if the numbers look good;

4. Buy all advertising presented to them.

With the first and second groups, you need to convince prospects to spend money on advertising before you can present your advertising proposal. You will waste a lot of time trying to sell to these folks.

With the third and fourth groups, you only need to provide advertising metrics to the prospect, to let them weigh the possibilities of using your advertising service, and then you will need to help them decide the details of the advertising package they are going to buy.

When you write sales copy for your website, focus on talking directly to those people most likely to buy what you are selling.

Don’t write your copy to try to convince people who don’t believe in advertising that they need advertising. Instead, write your copy for the 3rd and 4th groups – those who need to see your advertising metrics and those who need to know your advertising options.

Confidently Ask For The Sale

No matter the advertising format or sales presentation, there will come a time in the process where one must ask the consumer to take a specific action.

Believe it or not, many readers can sense your level of confidence when you ask them to take action. The words you choose when asking for the sale will either betray your insecurity or prove your confidence in your offer.

If you are uncomfortable asking people to take a specific action, people will sense it, and that may cause them to hesitate on taking the action you want them to take.

Easy To Buy

As marketers, we have to make a choice.

We can get all of the information we want from prospects or clients, OR we can get people to take the actions we want them to take!!

The more information we request from a prospect, the more likely it will be that the prospect will abandon the shopping cart.

Think about PayPal for a minute. In order to set up a PayPal account, one only needs an email address, password, legal name and address.

PayPal does not ask for your credit card or banking information on sign-up. Instead, they wait until you want to add more capabilities to your account, then they ask the additional information to give you access to their advanced features.

In order to increase your sales, you must fight the urge to ask for too much information. Only ask for the information that you need to ask to actually complete the transaction.

If you are selling physical products or services, you will likely need an address and a phone number. However, if you are selling digital downloads, you only need an email address and the payment information.

Final Thoughts

People often make the selling process harder than it needs to be because they worry too much that they do not know what to do.

You simply need to present your offers to prospective clients in a clear and simple way. Find out what questions people have about your offer, and then answer those questions.

Once you have answered all of the questions in your prospect’s mind, confidently ask for the sale.

Don’t be afraid to make changes in your copy, after using split testing tools to decide what changes to make.

Lastly, you will want to keep the buying process easy. Only ask for the information you truly need to complete the transaction.


When you are ready to dial-up the traffic to your sales page, article marketing with article syndication is one of the most-effective methods to drive consistent and targeted traffic to your sales pages. If you would like to learn how to make your article marketing more effective, sign up for Bill Platt’s live article marketing training. Bill has owned and operated http://thephantomwriters.com since 2001.

2 Responses to “The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Online – A SPN Exclusive Article

    avatar Lee Dobbins says:

    Some great points in this article! The thing is that a lot of people that build websites have no background in selling and, therefore, no clue of how to go about it.

    What I see happening a lot is people try to “cast a wide net” and sell to as many people as possible instead of, as this article so wisely suggests, knowing who your target customer is and catering your sales efforts to them.

    You make some really good points here. I especially like how you started off with the difference between traffic and conversion. Obviously, when you start with a website, you are not going to have any traffic, but once you get enough to get some sales or leads, it is a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to double your conversion than to double your traffic. Trying to maximize your revenue is what running a business is all about.

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