Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I attended a masterful sales presentation yesterday. Stores Online is a company that helps an individual build an Internet business. They have a good system, great tools, and moreover they were completely open and honest. It was billed as an Internet Marketing Workshop and they delivered. As far as I can tell, they never lied, stretched the truth or did anything shifty. They laid everything out, said every time they showed a website that was theirs, they'd inform us.

What I'm about to discuss is not a slam on Stores Online. They have an excellent product, offer great support, and they are very reputable. All I'm discussing is the sales technique, which was impressive.

Understand that their target market is aware of the Internet but not web-savvy. The people who buy in are people who would NEVER be able to do this without them. Their prices seem a little high, but not excessive. It's a good company.

Without ever hiding the truth, this is what they did. To the average non-tech person (and I'm not all that advanced, but I've got a little knowledge) they set out to overwhelm you with information. They told you that's what they were doing.

Many of their tools are actually free websites they don't own. They just link their Merchant Services to them. They did not say it wasn't their website (remember, they said they'd identify which are theirs, not which are not, so they were totally fair and open). They even gave us the website addresses - the uninitiated wouldn't know it was not their website. There was only one tool that was proprietarily theirs, but it is an analysis tool that you can do yourself in the same amount of time, and if they have it now, someone will offer it free in a year.

Whenever they talked about building websites, links, embedding keywords, they called it "programming" which it is, but it's a perjorative word (programming sounds difficult). They were totally up front that you had to provide your own graphics, without mentioning that graphics and design are the hard part (it's okay, they provide tech support).

And it was overwhelming. A couple of us, in our own informal private groups, dismantled it into key parts. None particularly hard to do, you just had to know it and do it (easier said than done). For every person there who bought, the thought running through their head was "I could never do this on my own, it's too hard, too much." And they were probably right.

Further, the company owners never hyped it. They gave you cold facts, well presented, and had a customer do the bulk of the instruction and he did some hype (but always balanced it with truth). All testimonials were at least 4 years old, an eternity on the web. Could their success be copied now? Maybe, probably not - at least not in those areas.

It was masterful, ethical, honest and fair sales work. People outside their target audience saw the man behind the curtain, but the buyers didn't. It was a little bit like watching an illusionist who tells you what he's going to do, does it, but you don't know how. Those taken in don't see the wires; those that do, don't buy.

Equally impressive is that they knew who was who. They didn't waste any time on Bill H. or myself, or the people we were sitting with. A questionaire I'd filled out before with very mild questions "do you have a product, a current website, did you build it yourself, are you experienced with the web?" Yes to all and I wasn't bothered by anyone. I'd even signed up for a consultation, but they didn't call me down.

Even so, they delivered what they said. I learned a lot, it was worth my time, and I wish them and their clients well. I'm sure many of them will make a lot more money than I ever will on the web.


Sherlock said...

sounds a little shady.

Sherlock said...

oh good your in beta, i don't have 2 log in twice.

Rob said...

It's not shady, though. Not at all. It's salesmanship. It was completely honest and aboveboard. The analysis makes it look shady, but they didn't do anything wrong. Salesmanship is manipulation, and yet these guys were open about it.

Interesting, huh?

damaris said...

open manipulation.

now there's an interesting phrase.

Rob said...

We openly manipulate all the time. Whenever you want something from your parents and butter them up first, you're not trying to put one over on them. It's your way of saying "I want something" in a cute, manipulative fashion.

A magician does it all the time. You know it's not real, and the magician know's you're looking for the trick, but he's so good, he doesn't have to sweat it. These guys did the same thing. "We're here to sell you on a product, you know it, we know it, so let's go."

Is there anything wrong with that? It's a serious question. If you tell your audience there are seams in the offer, and even point them out, is it taking advantage when the buyers still don't get it?

damaris said...

i wouldn't know.
I'm not really sure what God would say about it.

(maybe because i never buttered my parents up. i tried it a few times as a kid. but it never worked. and i felt terribly guilty. alas.)