Successful selling – digital and personal

How passion and competence can be communicated online.

In the digital age, companies have the opportunity to convey both competence and passion to customers online at an early stage – just like a handshake and a personal conversation.

The other day we feared that the ravages of time might be gnawing away at the tubes of our almost 40-year-old underfloor heating. Having already looked into an internal coating at considerable cost, we met Patrick, a water technician specialising in heating water.

Our neighbours had recommended him to us. To be on the safe side, we searched for him online and finally found Patrick’s website on the 4th Google page. It was a very sparse website that probably hadn’t been updated in 10 years. But when we met him, his passion for floor tubes, heating valves and water treatment was hard to beat. Patrick convinced with enormous expertise, was an expert at EMPA and even digitised; he handed over the brochure on a memory stick. But it was the gleam in his eye when he saw our heating pipe connection in the laundry room that gave me confidence in this man.

As a sales consultant in the digital age, this got me thinking. What actually makes it whether an offer is convincing? That a buying decision is positive? What role does the online presence, the first impression really play? How are purchase decisions made for products that require explanation and are capital-intensive?

Patrick is a good example of authentic sales offline, in personal contact. The combination of competence and passion convinces both emotionally and rationally, also because buying is based on trust.

But if Patrick were to look for new customers online, he would certainly fail with many customers. His website is outdated, hard to find and does not inspire trust.

But how do potential customers find information? How can I make my offer, my added value and competence visible online?

Passion and competence attract people

Passion, what you stand for or what you offer, transports emotions and draws other people along. Successful salespeople are convincing above all because they are passionate about their cause and want to help with their offer. And customers perceive this – consciously or unconsciously – as “authentic”.

Customers can compare offers online, but they can also find out about the experiences or ratings of others. What used to be achieved by the salesperson in personal contact is now done both online and through personal contact. When customers feel the passion of the seller, this often makes the decisive difference.

In the case of complex or explanation-intensive offers, it is primarily personal trust that decides. People decide emotionally and justify their decision rationally afterwards. REAL passion convinces customers.

Today, potential customers want to feel this passion from the very first contact. Trust grows with a consistent online presence on all digital communication platforms.

Allowing trust to grow also means asking questions. How can I help? What is your goal? What challenges and pressure points are you facing? What is the ideal solution for you?

Patrick asked all these questions. He was convincing in the face-to-face meeting. But he could be convincing much earlier, could gain considerable visibility through an optimised, revised website, a Google my Business entry or a social media profile. We would not have found him on the internet – and the other day I wanted to recommend him and searched for a long time again.

Added value makes price a secondary matter

Products or offers should offer customers added value, i.e. relieve pressure points or open up new opportunities, for example by reducing costs or increasing sales with new customer groups. However, there is also an increasing call for an overriding purpose: Economy should be ecological and for society.

During the conversation, Patrick was able to give us a feeling for the costs; by giving us prices including labour per unit, and knowing exactly about the work to be done. He was also able to give us information about the further work that would be needed.

This means that it is not the “best product” that convinces, but rather a package of product and services, including advice and sales services.

It is carried by the companies’ brand as well as by the individual employees. Convinced salespeople are convincing. They feel comfortable and proud of their product. Your personal brand is authentic and conveys your competences rationally and emotionally.

Patrick could share this information with a professional social media presence as well as on his website. 75% of buyers choose the supplier that adds value first. Companies can use the opportunity to engage with customers online very early in the buying process. Patrick could, for example, show the cooperation with the EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing) on his social media profile and thus increase trust among potential new customers.

A good feeling in the stomach with content

Buyers, customers, clients, even patients: they all want one thing above all else when “shopping”: “a good feeling”. The following applies here: the more complex and expensive the offer or service is, the more important the trust placed in the provider becomes for the purchase decision.

Trust is a package of product and services, but also concerns the interpersonal relationship, who look after the customer before and after the purchase and stand by in case of problems. Suppliers with advice-intensive products and services give their customers the trust for long-term cooperation.

The passion for “tubes”, as Patrick himself said, and his know-how gave us the feeling: Here is a partner who really knows what he is talking about. This feeling was further confirmed by his certificates. In addition, Patrick was able to describe to us exactly the necessary work and visualise it with documents and pictures.

Often, not one person alone makes the decision to buy, others are involved in the decision. Decision-making bodies and company regulations require that decisions are prepared.

When information, service, the buying experience or personal contact help to reduce complexity for these “influencers“, sellers offer real added value. By providing quality content, companies position themselves to do this at first contact online and early in the decision-making process.

Understanding changing customer behaviour – today, most people get their information online – is central to business models, offer definition, customer acquisition and communication. If digital means succeed for certain customer touchpoints, increased visibility will generate customer enquiries.

Jeannette Mutzner (lic.oec. Universität St.Gallen) hilft Unternehmen, Individuen und Teams ihre Positionierung, Network- und Social-Selling-Strategie auf LinkedIn zu optimieren. Durch Beratungen und Schulungen trägt sie zur digitalen Sichtbarkeit, Lead Generierung und zum Erreichen ihrer Umsatzziele bei - immer nach dem Motto: ENGAGE, CONNECT & GROW

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