Friday, 8 November 2013

Sales Tool KIT Checklist: How to Empower Salesforce to Increase Sales

Sales Tool Kit or Disaster Kit?

Is your Sales Tool-Kit a Marketing Arsenal-Powerhouse or does it resemble a Disaster Kit?
Some vendors have some, none or all of the following in their Tool-Kit while a few have more:
  • Email swipes
  • Articles, reviews
  • Banners, product images
  • Video, audios, pdfs
  1. Well done if you have supplied these creatives to your salesforce. It's a good start but...
  2. Are they sufficient in quantity and variety?
  3. Were they created professionally and are they high quality?
  4. How often do you update this tool-kit if at all?
  5. Do you test and track them, regularly? Conversion rate?
  6. Do you listen /get feedback from your sales force?

Banners, Product Images:

How many images do you have in your "arsenal"? Some vendors have only ONE so most people are brain-dead when these pop up, ie. they have tuned out (become ad-blind) to that Zombie banner as they have seen it all round the Net. Some vendors have even less than this!

How old are your graphics?  They could be very outdated if they have been around for years - check out the style, colours and the general design. If your banners feature people check their hairstyle, clothes, makeup, etc. because they are a dead giveaway of the era in which your banners were created!

The Net has gone very visual (and viral) and with the advent of smartphones there has been an explosion of images. While you see  a deluge of 'lunch' and 'feet' photos what's really happening is that people are getting better at taking images and standards are getting higher. Retro banners would appeal to some, like Grandma. They look better on vintage sites or sites that take you down memory lane to yesteryear but these are generally not mainstream, which is fine, if you're not selling to main-streamers.

It is more damaging to use a poor quality image than to not use one at all. As a publisher you could use savvy text links to pull visitors rather than drive them away with a poor perception of the product caused by low-quality images if the underlying product is actually a good one and which has a hungry market.

Consider size, colours, text and variety - some vendors have banners of all sizes using the SAME image which is not so bad if it was a GOOD one!  Some banners are just plain cheap-looking, or downright unattractive.  There's no need to wonder why your sales force have deserted you. When you're in the midst of an 'Image-Renaissance' there's just no excuse for the paucity of decent creatives if you're serious about surging your revenue.  (And don't forget the text; the right words can convey the right message like a laser beam. It's only by testing a variety of banners with different messages, etc. will you be able to home in on your best performers like a heat-seeking missile, viz. the ones that have the highest click-through rates.)

And then there are those worth-their-weight-in-gold publishers who will try to surmount this marketing scarcity by creating their own banners, which is great if they are good designers but you have less control on how your product is portrayed. And why would you waste your sales force's time when it would be more productive for them (and your bottom-line) to focus on marketing than on banner-creation? That's your designer's job. Hopefully your designer is clued up on the psychology of selling (cf. glossy magazines) and is sold on the adage that  "A (great) picture is worth a 1000 words"! One point worth noting is that although it's wonderful to have good creatives it's even more important to have an excellent product - it has to deliver on your promises, otherwise your business is built on quicksand.

Videos, Audios: 

Check that the videos you have created as a resource for your salesforce is actually acceptable on Youtube and other video channels. There could be valid reasons why your sales force hasn't been using these. The criteria for accepting videos seem to be getting more stringent and even those created for affiliates may be affected. Your Review or Testimonial Videos are of no use to your salesforce if they are not accepted by video platforms.  Solution: create and upload YOUR videos to your own channel then allow your sales force to embed these in their own sites. Ensure your videos are original (with no copyright issues), and of a high quality. (Tip: publish even more videos if you wish to dominate your niches for SE rankings.)

Articles, Reviews, Swipes:

There's nothing more disappointing to see great websites with beautiful, glossy, product images and sales copy and then find the quality of the content-marketing articles to be sub-standard.  Proofread ALL the articles yourself, every single one of them even if you have 250 articles or more and edit them before you release them.

Better still invest in getting some top writers in that niche to have these professionally written.  Some articles read like they were taken off some cheap PLR packages or assigned to writers who were not proficient in English, with rather quirky and sometimes humorous usage of the language. You get a 'tickle' when you read them, which is fine if you're operating in a 'humour-niche' or if your goal is to confuse and/or distract buyers. (Instead of focussing on your product's selling points they will be side-tracked by your grammar or syntax!). 

Another alternative is to invest in a powerful Content Spinner so you can produce varying content from your original, paid articles, videos, blogs, etc. to update your vault's content at say, quarterly intervals, to help out those publishers who struggle with content creation.

Also read the swipes before you release them as some can sound a little cheesy. Adapt this to suit your region or target market.  Do a quick analysis to see where your buyers are coming from, they could be more local (from your country or region) than you realise. 'Sounding' right (not only what you say but how you say it) is important because prospects tend to resonate better with those who have similar ideology or communication style as themselves. It's probably safer to use neutral expressions if you have an international audience in order to garner a wider appeal and following.

Testing, Conversion, Feedback:

Rate and Rank: Interact with your sales force and give cues as to what creatives work best (you would know if you have tested them).  Note that everything is subject to change, especially on the Net, so what worked yesterday may no longer work today.

[If you are using an affiliate manager to attend to your sales force do you know what your 'right-hand' man / woman is doing? Some of them (actually a whopping 50% in a recent study by a major network on customer service and affiliate support) do NOT respond at all to queries ie. ignores contact from your sales-army even when these PEOPLE are bringing in regular sales! It does make you wonder how your BUYERS will be treated should they require similar support?]

Also your creatives might work a treat in their CTA / CT rates, but if your website is not converting you need to revamp. You will only know this if you test, and test all regularly. No point sending traffic if your site does not convert!

Sometimes traffic does not convert for the Publisher because the Landing Page resembles an OPT-IN page more than a Sales Page. In that case seek other vendors to work with especially those who will reward you well for your effort in driving traffic to them. And scrutinise each landing page carefully. You can forgive tool-kit paucity if their sales copy is very convincing and more importantly, if their site converts. Confirm by testing. You deserve to get the sales as a fair reward for your hard work and expense in driving traffic to your vendors.

It's a given that publishers especially newbies, find it easier to succeed if they get good support such as mentioned above from their vendors.  It's a profitable and win/win situation for all parties (including third parties) when that happens. Good support starts with a good, sales and marketing tool-kit arsenal. It is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways of helping your publishers achieve success and therefore of ultimately leveraging your own online success.

Some vendors have excellent resources and tick all these boxes but they are in the minority.  If your email is being used to aggressively push products onto you instead of receiving sales support then!  And shop around. You'll find that some networks have excellent affiliate/sales managers who will pro-actively give personal support to help you sell more because they truly do 'get' the symbiotic nature of the relationship between YOUR SUCCESS and THEIR BOTTOM LINE!!  You can do so much flying solo or with a select few but when you cultivate an army of sellers, the sky's the limit!!

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