Why You Have to Know How to Sell to Succeed in Business

sales-moller-marketing

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

Everyone should have at least one sales job in their lifetime.

The sad thing, though, is we’ve all probably heard this about sales people too:

  • “Sales guys are scam artists.”
  • “Salesman are unethical.”
  • “I hate sales people.”
  • “I’m definitely not good at sales.”

Have you been guilty of saying something like this?

The truth is, you’re probably right; some sales guys are scam artists, some sales tactics are unethical. And even I, who love everything about sales, hate strongly dislike some sales people (like those vacuum cleaner sales peeps I met at a recent expo who kept trying to commit my wife and I to “buy, buy, buy today or the deal will be gone…”)

When I meet sales people like that, I feel just like you – “AHHHHH! Leave me alone!”

Not All Sales Are Bad

But, then I’m reminded that there are good sales people too. Like the car dealer I dealt with recently who went out of his way to give me lots of info, to follow up, and, even after the sale, to see how things were going. Even though he was over an hour a way from where I live, the next time I’m in the car market, I’ll look him up for sure.

The simple phrase, “How can I help?” is a perfect sales intro, especially if it’s sincere. The relationship I have with some of my best clients started with that simple question – “How can I help you?”

We all sell ideas, opinions, or products every day. If you say you suck at sales, you are basically “selling” the reason why you hate salesmen or sales.

Think about it, if you’re a parent to “sell” dinner (and why your kids should try new things) every night.

You sell your kids on why they need to shut out the lights and go to bed.

You sell them on why doing their homework before they play outside is the best option (and only option) they have.

In addition to the parent/sales role, have you ever interviewed for a job? Wasn’t that one big self-proclaiming sales pitch to your potential employer?

And what I’ve learned about hiring is that it isn’t really what your resume says that’s most important, it’s about how well you sell yourself to the interviewer. Do they like you? Could they see themselves working with you? If you aren’t good at selling your likeability and skill set, good luck getting the job you really want.

The Sales Experience

Honestly, many sales guys get such a bad rap, possibly because of the “used car salesman” approach or the “door-to-door vacuum sales person”. However, to understand sales, you have to realize that every sales job is different:

Right after graduation from college I took a job with a copier & printer company doing “cold calling” and door-to-door sales. I was given no leads, no referrals, nothing – just thrown out there cold turkey. As I look back at that experience I can easily say that I learned so much; it’s not exactly what I’d want to do for a life-long career, but it was a huge step in the right direction.

I also learned how important creating business relationships can be in generating new business. Just before I left that job for a better, more life-long option, I made a sale to a client for over $50,000. Why? It wasn’t because I knew all there was to know about the product; it wasn’t because I lied to them about what they were getting; it definitely wasn’t because we had the “best price in town.” It was primarily because of the friendship we had developed.

It’s amazing what a round of golf can do for a business relationship – it’s almost like taking surprise flowers to your wife! Clients like to be “wined & dined” and be taken care of. Everyone likes to have friends. And everyone likes to feel like you have their best interest in mind.

Conclusion

So, my point is this: If you really want to succeed as an entrepreneur, learn how to sell.

If you really want to understand what motivation is, what commitment is, what hard work is, what creating win/win situations is – get a sales job.

If you want to learn about the power of confidence and belief, the importance of setting and reviewing goals frequently, the influence being nice to people has on your success, and the psychology of why people do (or don’t do) what they do – get a sales job!

What has been your experience in the world of sales?

INFOGRAPHIC: Should Your Consulting Company Do Work for Free?

I’m approaching two full years of self-employment.

It’s been real.

It’s been fun.

And many days it’s been real fun.

However, some days it can be a bit stressful, especially if you have “friends” or “contacts” that have a great offer for you, an opportunity to get in at the ground level, or however else they may pitch it.

At times it’s hard to tell them no.

At times I’ve been on the brink of saying “Sure, why not…” But luckily I’ve only had two experiences where I feel I’ve dropped the ball and gave clients a good product priced WAY below market value, only to have them expect way more than they paid for and ultimately be upset.

(I wish I would have found the infographic I shared the other day about website design warnings… 🙂 )

In an effort to know how to best tell a potential business partnership that my company doesn’t do work for free, I ran across an article that was titled, “Should I work for free?” It was actually a big flow chart that made me chuckle on a couple different levels.

I cut it up a bit, focusing primarily on the business to business “work for free” proposition, since that’s the one I’ve dealt with most in my two years of business bliss. The infographic sums it up pretty clearly.

Do you agree?

Should I Do Business to Business Consulting for Free?

What are your thoughts? See the entire infographic here.

How do you respond to the AWESOME OPPORTUNITY to get a lot of business exposure?

Share this!

Guest Post: Finding the Golden Client Over and Over Again

I’ve talked to clients a lot in the past about one key question:

What have you done TODAY to make a sale?

I’m going to take it a step further today and ask another simple question:

What have you done TODAY to find a new client?

Some might ask at this point, “Isn’t making a sale and finding a new client the same thing?”

In the past, my answer was yeah, sure. However, as I’ve thought about it more, I realize that I can make one sale today but then never, ever see that customer again. On the other hand, if my goal is to find CLIENTS, I’m really not only looking for a “sale”, but I’m also looking for a long-term business relationship that I can develop, leading to sale after sale after sale to the same client.

I was reading an article today titled “5 Smart Ways to Find Clients“. They mentioned that finding clients is something almost every small business owner struggles with from time to time. There are quite a few ways to do it, but finding new clients really boils down to putting yourself where your clients are, being approachable, and fulfilling a need or solving a problem. It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.

Who’s Your Ideal “Golden” Client?

How to Triple Your Online Sales Overnight

Do you make money online?

Why?

Or maybe a better question is, Why not?

Last year alone, Amazon.com made $24.5 BILLION dollars in online sales.

Why didn’t you get a piece of that pie?

I’ve been running online businesses and teaching others how to start an online business for over six years now and have learned one main point that I can’t teach clearly enough…

Online Marketing is about SALES!

If you want to actually make money online, you have to provide a product or service that has enough demand and that you won’t have to compete with the likes of Wal-Mart and Costco to sell.

Online marketing is NOT just about selling products ONLINE!

To me, this is one of the most common misconceptions about an internet business – that most, if not all, of the sales are made online.

First off, yes, your eCommerce website can be the PORTAL to sell your products online. But you’re not necessarily LIMITED to only selling them there.

Some of the biggest sales I’ve made online have been because of connections made OFFLINE that then got the ball rolling to finalize the sales online.

Do you have an affiliate program for your website?

I was talking with a client today about his website that sells cool pencil cases. He’s using a website builder that has a custom affiliate program BUILT IN! I was pretty excited for him when I heard that he’d made about 70 sales within the last week.

I asked him how many of those sales he’d made were now affiliates that were promoting his products to their friends and family in exchange for a little commission on sales they helped create.

He told me 1 person was and they’d helped generate FOUR sales already.

I then did the math. 1 person for 4 sales….?

That means, if he got all 75 people who bought from him already to do a bit of affiliate promoting…. He be “in the money” for (at least) 300 sales!

From 4 sales to 300 sales is actually  A LOT MORE than TRIPLING YOUR ONLINE SALES!

Are you seeing where I’m going here…?

How to Build a Successful Affiliate Program for Your Ecommerce Store

As we talked more, ideas started coming about what he could be doing. Here are some I want to collect on “paper”.

  1. Have an affiliate program built for your eCommerce store or find one.
  2. When a sale is made and a new client is added to your database, email them right away to thank them for their business.
  3. In that same email, or in follow up emails, ask them questions and build the business relationship:
    1. How did they find your website?
    2. Do they have any recommendations or suggestions for your website?
    3. What did they like about the product(s) or service?
    4. What can you add to the site that would make it even better for the end user?
    5. What other products would they like to see in the future?
    6. Would they buy from your website again in the future? Why or why not?
    7. If they could refer the product(s) to their friends and family for a commission, would they?
    8. Do they know what affiliate marketing is?
  4. Make some of these questions direct links to a page on your website that explains more about what they can do to make money or help a cause or whatever…(a landing page with an invitation to do something)
  5. On the landing page, teach them how they can set up their own affiliate program on your site and get PAID as they refer your products to friends and family who then BUY your products.
  6. Teach them about http://bit.ly – a website address shortening service that basically “hides” all the affiliate tracking information and keeps the website address short and easy to remember.
  7. If they want to do “Offline Sales”, teach them about how they could collect the money from buyers of your products offline and then go through their own affiliate link to make sure they get credit for the sale.
  8. Encourage them to think about their email list, their friends on Facebook, and offline connections too.
  9. Start helping them make a list of people they think would be ideal for the product or service you offer.

These were just a few of the ideas that came to mind as we talked about the success he was having so far with his new online business.

What are other suggestions you have to double, triple, even QUADRUPLE your sales online?

(by the way, the title is an example of a Flashy Headline and nothing else; yes, I do think a process like this has potential to triple sales overnight, but I DON’T believe in “get rich quick” schemes at all…)

What’s Apple Trying to Do?

For Christmas this year I got my first MacBook Pro. I’ve been really excited about all the functionality and ease of use. As they say, “Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back!” So it is with me.

However, lately I’ve been getting this pop-up and it reminds me of Windows:

apple pushing safari

So, why is Apple trying to subtly force me to install Safari? I read an article about Firefox being really ticked off about this.

What Apple is doing now with their Apple Software Update on Windows is wrong. It undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers, and that’s bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web. What they did yesterday was to use their updater for iTunes to also install their Safari Web browser –what follows is some background and analysis. – John Lilly

What’s the status? Is Safari really that good? Is is better than Firefox?

What’s worse than this initial pop-up is the 2nd one I got:

safari download

 

Persistence can pay off I guess.  But is Apple really that desperate to get Safari on everyone’s computers? I’ll bet many people have uploaded Safari without even knowing what they did. Interesting strategy Apple – please don’t fall in to the Microsoft or Windows campaign…

When In Doubt, Test It Out!

I know, corny title but it’s true – if you are wondering about the effectiveness of a particular strategy, test, test, test. One of my mentors who sells memory foam mattress products is infamous for this – he’s always testing, trying, evaluating, and then re-testing to see what gets the best response over time.

Over the past few years I’ve worked with hundreds of clients in a variety of industries. Surprisingly, all of them want to see results and make sales 🙂 I’ve learned through my own testing that there are certain things that work consistently; other things may work great for my industry or what I’m doing, but they may not get the same response for a client doing a teleseminar on getting free advertising on the radio or whatever other ideas you might have.

I recently found a cool post while twittering. It is titled “Do Buttons Get Clicked More Than Text Links? A Case Study” by Justin Premick. It talks all about testing in regards to an email campaign. Justin and his partner Marc wanted to determine

…how to increase clickthroughs on the emails we send to our blog subscribers.

One of the ideas that came up was to replace the text links that we had been using to drive people to the blog with a “button.”

Previous testing on the website had shown that in many cases, buttons make better calls to action than text links do. We thought the same might hold true for email. (italics and bold added for emphasis)

So, Marc created a button-shaped image with the words “Read More” stamped on it:

We then created A/B split tests for our Blog Broadcasts, inserted this image into one version as the call to action (to read the full post on our blog) and continued to use text links in the other version as we had before.

The emails were otherwise identical – we kept subject lines, sending dates/times and templates the same for each version.

They had a question, they thought about things they’d done in the past that had worked, and they began the test.

I like that they pointed out the A/B testing: this is one of the only ways to really tell for sure which of two ideas is going to work best. Otherwise too many factors may contribute to the outcome. Like they said, besides the text link and button, “the emails were otherwise identical”.

They go on to talk about initial results:

As we expected, the button grabbed readers – attention and incentived them to click through, much better than the text link did…At this point, about 2 weeks into our test, it was tempting to say, “The button clearly draws more attention and clicks than text links. Let’s just start using buttons and move on to another test.”

Did they stop there? Nope!

We ultimately ran the button-versus-text split test about 40 times, over the course of several months.

For a while, the button continued to beat the text links – but we noticed that it wasn’t doing so by as large a margin as it first had.

While over our first five tests, the button beat the text by over 33%, after 20 tests it was only winning by an average of 17.29%, and the text version was beginning to hold its own in the win column.

With each new split test, the text asserted itself as the better call to action.

By the time we ended our experiment, text links were consistently outperforming our button, winning nearly two-thirds of the time, by double-digit margins as high as nearly 35%.

What can we learn from this? How does this apply to YOUR website? How do YOU plan to implement this testing case study?

To sum it up best, let’s read on to see what conclusion they came up with:

What works today may not work tomorrow.

Had we stopped our testing after one broadcast, or even one or two weeks, we would have concluded that buttons were better than text links.

It’s important to continually test your email campaigns to make sure that you know what works, rather than assuming you know what works.

Finally, one last point I feel obligated to make:

What works for someone else may not work for you.

The text links won out in our split test, but that doesn’t mean a button can’t be an effective call to action for you.

Again, don’t just take our word for it. Find out for yourself through your own testing.

Running an effective business, both on and offline, takes analysis like this if you plan to see the long term results you want to see. I am currently doing a test right now with a client email campaign and will let you all know the results in the upcoming weeks.

Improving Online Sales and Conversion

I talked recently about continuing to educate yourself, even after your site starts making sales and things seem to be on the up and up. Education seems to be so essential in whatever field you are in. As some of you know, I love sports. The best athletes seem to be the ones who are “students of the game”. They know what they are going to do in every big situation because they’ve studied it out, watched film and are prepared to succeed. This preparation also has a direct effect on their confidence, which really separates the mediocre from the extremely successful.

One of the things I’ve been studying about a lot lately is online sales conversion. I found a great article that gave a long list of things to do to improve sales online and keep your clients coming back. These are a few of the things I felt were most important:

  • Set up an analytics program. I recommend two stat tracking tools – StatCounter.com and Google Analytics. Both are pretty easy to use and free.
  • Track visitor trends. Watch where visitors are coming from,what they are doing on your site, what keywords they are searching for to get to your site, and work on improving bounce rate (the visitors who just come to the home page and then leave without doing anything).
  • Analyze keywords visitors are using to find your site. Make sure that the products matching the three most popular search terms appear on your home page.
  • Resize and compress your images using an image editor. While you can resize an image by simply changing the ‘height’ and ‘width’ attributes in HTML, that doesn’t make the file smaller. So someone may sit for 30 seconds waiting for that postage-sized image to download.
  • Always evaluate your home page. Does it have a clear ‘shop now’ call to action, above the fold? If it doesn’t, add one! Some of your visitors don’t even know they can buy from you, direct, online.
  • Remove any animation you have on your home page that doesn’t directly sell a product. It’s a distraction. Get rid of it.
  • Remember, you’re selling products. Everywhere you show a product, show a price and a ‘buy now’ button, or at least a ‘learn more button’. This is one I need to implement on my clogging shoes website.
  • Promote yourself! On your home page, make sure you have a heading that says why you’re great. “We ship overnight” or “All walnuts checked by squirrels” are great, compelling calls to action.
  • Ask for the sale! On your home page, show your products! So many online stores fail to do this. Instead, the front page is a testament to their web designers’ talent (or lack of talent). Don’t make that mistake.
  • Make products easy to find. If you don’t have a search tool on your site, get one. Google custom search is easy to set up.
  • Use your web real estate wisely. Don’t put ‘about us’ in the main navigation. Frankly, no one cares. They want to buy stuff, not hear about you and your three dogs.
  • Show multiple ways that visitors can contact you. Put your phone number and other contact information in plain view on each page of your site. It tells people that you’re for real.
  • Keep your text simple and easy to read. Use sales copy that scans well. Short, 2-3 sentence paragraphs and bullet points scan more easily than huge paragraphs of text.
  • Use a spell checker. Nothing says ‘You will never receive your order’ like a page full of misspellings.
  • Get a second opinion. Have someone else proof your writing.
  • Get names and emails from visitors. If you don’t make a sale to a new visitor, at least get them to sign up for something. A name and email is almost as good as a sale – it’s future sales if you use the list wisely.
  • Paid Search Marketing: If you don’t have a pay-per-click account, start one, at least with Google Adwords. Spend $.10/click or so to start, and see how it helps sales. These should be the first ad dollars you spend online. Nothing else makes sense until you’ve tested the PPC waters.

These are just a few ideas I found that I either implement now or plan to implement in the near future. Let me know how they increase your sales and which ones work best.

Setting Sales Goals for an Online Business

One thing I’ve realized lately is how important it is to not sit back and “wait” for sales to happen on a new eCommerce website. No, you don’t have to be a jerk like the picture below explains 🙂 but you do have to go out there and make things happen.

I run one website that sells clogging shoes and dance bags. One of the initial ways I made sales was to start contacting people I already knew that may be interested in what I was selling. Yes, I had to take a few big steps out of my comfort zone at first; however, as I talked to friends and family, they were willing to give me good feedback and even criticism which helped my site make progress.

How to set goalsSome of that feedback was positive. I used this feedback as the start of a “testimonials” section. Am I positive that it had a direct effect on sales? No. I do know that many large companies use feedback and reviews to give their products and services more credibility.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about goals and how this ties in to sales online. I heard that Monday, January 21st is known as “Blue Monday” because people realize they probably aren’t going to keep their infamous “New Years Resolutions”. Three weeks have come and gone, they realize they’ve fallen in to the same patterns as always – they decide to give up and quit.

Why does this happen? Were they not serious when they set these goals in the first place? Were they not committed? Did they not want to succeed or overcome a bad habit? Of course they were serious; of course they were committed (at least at first); obviously they wanted to succeed or cut the bad habits. But, in my opinion, their goals were probably based on “outcomes” and not individual “performance”.

I would say that my greatest “discovery” to date as an entrepreneur has been a better understanding of how to set and accomplish goals. When it comes to sales, some things are obviously out of our control. I really wish I could just turn on a magic button and all of a sudden the money would flow in to my merchant account on a consistent basis. However, this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Why, Why, Why? I’ve actually heard a few clients ask this very question: “Why the hell am I not making sales?” My simple response, “What have you done TODAY to make a sale?”

So my advice is this: as you think about your goals, what you want to accomplish with your online business, or with anything, ask yourself the question – “How much control do I have of that outcome?” If you can honestly say you have COMPLETE control, this is the type of goal you go after. Here’s a ficticious example:

Goal: Make $60,000 this year with my online business.

Let’s break it down:

  • To make $60,000 this year, assuming we are starting today, Tuesday, February 19th, means we have 10 and 1/2 months.
  • $60K / 10.5 = $5715 per month.
  • $5715 / 4 weeks = $1430 per week.
  • $1430 / 7 days = $205/day.

By doing this break down I can actually see what it’s going to take on a day to day basis if I want to achieve this financial goal of $60,000 by Dec. 31, 2008.Now I have to ask myself that important question: How much control do I have of that outcome – to make $205 per day?” Some might say this is debateable but think about it, can I actually MAKE a visitor to my website buy the products I am offering on a specific day? From my experience, the answer to that is NO. However, there are things I can do every day that will improve the likelihood of this happening. What are they? Phone calls, emails, weekly or daily promotions, testing different wording strategies, client feedback and referral systems, offline marketing, joint ventures – the list can go on and on. But look at this list – “How much control do I have of [these] outcomes?” All the control!

I can set a goal to make X amount of phone calls today, send Y amount of emails to my database. Then, after doing these things, I can monitor my progress. Maybe today I called 20 people and 5 of them purchased for an average of $50. That means 25% of my contacts purchased something and I made about $250 today. If I contact 50 people tomorrow I have a chance to sell to 12.5 people for about $625 in sales. The numbers won’t always be perfect every day, but keep track of your progress (what was working, what didn’t seem to work), and then duplicate your successes more and more and more!

I’ve rambled long enough today. These strategies will pay off with your businesses. As the cliche states: “Practice makes perfect!” Now start practicing!

Creative eBay Listings can really Pay Off!

I can’t believe it. My colleague and I have been talking a lot about creative ways to market products on eBay. Eveyone has heard of eBay, bought something, sold something, or maybe even been “scammed”. My colleague has been a Gold Power Seller on eBay for some time and recently sent me this ebay completed listing. He recommended that I have all clients do a listing like this every once in a while. Check this out:

I’m selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn’t notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…

MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive – my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”

“No.”

“Can we get cupcakes?”

“No.”

“Can we get muffins?”

“No.”

“Can we get pie?”

“No.”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?”

I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.”

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun that way.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They’re in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say “Energy”. I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn’t work. I definitely didn’t have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids’ sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don’t there’s anything special about any of these cards, but I’m very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I’m not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that’s my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it’s out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I’ve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! 🙂

If you’re still reading now, you are definitely on you way to success. Commitment and dedication to read such a long description of a product will pay off for you. What can we learn from this:

  • Sometimes a fun story about how you got a simple product can really help it sell. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant, in perfect condition, or even very valuable to you. However, you may find, as this seller did, that a good story about a product can really pay off.
  • Include a “Make sure you check this out and forward it to all your friends” type invitation. This is called “viral marketing” and was probably the only way this eBay seller made over $150 on Pokemon Cards. They had tons and tons of views of the listing and many bids, most likely out of courtesy.

Best of luck in your selling on eBay. Let us all know how this crazy idea worked for you.

eCommerce Holiday Statistics Worth Mentioning

One of the blogs I read alot is by Andy Beal, also known as Marketing Pilgrim. (It’s important to educate yourself all the time.) In the article it talked about some of Forrester’s statistics related to the holiday season for online retailers, of which I want to elaborate on a bit:

  1. 61% of online shoppers prefer an e-tailer that offers free shipping. However, 49% say shipping prices do not deter them from buying. My recommendation is to test things. Don’t “give away” your product or lose too much money because of the free shipping option. Add some of the cost of shipping in to the price of the product, charge a small handling fee, and experiment.
  2. Only 26% say they would pay for expedited delivery. (It was 45% last year.) It’s good to give clients options. Just be careful not to over promise and under deliver.
  3. 55% say they shop online to find products they can’t find offline. Not much to elaborate on here. This is where demand and competition research with keywords comes back to help you.
  4. Only 18% would pay extra for gift wrapping (down from 33%). I’ve never even offered this option since most of my stuff is via dropshippers. It would be an interesting experiment to see if you got more sales by offering this service for a small fee.
  5. The top categories for online shopper this holiday season? In order: apparel, books, electronics, gift cards and toys. Don’t let this discourage you if you aren’t in one of these industries. Nor do you want your decision on what to sell to be based on these things. It’s important to do something you love to do, not look for what’s hot necessarily.
  6. 68% of internet users shop online or research products online. 50% of those users window shop only (research information) and then buy offline. This is interesting—it seems to indicate that only about 1/3rd of internet users are really online shoppers.
  7. The higher the income, the more likely a user is to shop or research products online. How relevant is this to what we are doing? The important thing is to think about who your target audience is: do they have money to spend on your products or services? If not, how do you plan to make sales?
  8. Here are the biggest deterrents of online shopping in order: credit card security, privacy, shipping costs, quality, return policies, delays and product availability. These are good things to be aware of. Don’t over think though – if you are using systems like PayPal for credit card security and include some type of privacy and return policy information on your website, these things shouldn’t be an issue.

Good luck with sales this holiday season. As I always say, keep the questions coming! Let’s be part of the best online sales holiday in history!