Making e-Business Part of your Sales Strategy

I’ve been invited to speak at a Sales Institute breakfast briefing on Wednesday 17th February entitled Making e-Business Part of Your Sales Strategy. I will be giving a presentation which will be followed by a panel discussion with Shenda Loughnane of ICAN (updated) and Michael Veale of Buy4Now.

The idea behind the event is to share and discuss insights into what traditional bricks and mortar businesses need to do in order to develop successful web strategies. I’m working on my slide pack and these are the key things that I think businesses need to consider:

  • New marketplace dynamics
  • Distribution / channel strategies
  • Customers behaviours and expectations online
  • Online pricing strategies
  • The process is the product
  • Trust
  • Usability
  • Customer ratings and reviews
  • Email marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Search marketing
  • New dynamics in display advertising
  • Integration with offline media
  • Social media
  • Mobile
  • Analytics

Any obvious omissions?

I believe that there are still a small number of tickets available for this event. You can book your tickets directly from the Sales Institute website.

12 thoughts on “Making e-Business Part of your Sales Strategy

  1. Great set of topics Brendan.
    “Online pricing strategies” (or budget) is certainly a very strong point.
    From my experience, even customers that are a bit savvy tend to miscalculate on this this one. Could be because that they’re very eager to resolve something specific and that’s where their money ends up is going. However, by having a holistic view at the e-strategy, there’re are more important points to consider (like those you mentioned above) in order to get the plan rolling smoothly 🙂

    Good luck on the 17th!!
    Best
    Fred

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  2. Thanks Fred. Are you speaking specifically about the budget assigned to e-business projects? If so it is a good topic to cover alright. How much should we be spending and how should it be allocated across the various activities?

    A difficult one to answer as each organisation will be different. The key point I think is that managers have a strong sense of all the components that go into successful e-business and then decide how to apportion budget as appropriate.

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  3. Hey Brendan,

    You’ve covered many of the main points there for sure. I’ve managed all the online sales for a retail bank here for the last 4+ years so a few thoughts I’d have are:

    For a company entering the ecommerce arena they should work to determine which of their products are best suited to online sales and start with those. I’ve launched our online applications on a phased basis over the last few years and there are clear patterns in drop off rates and overall sales rates between the different products which shows that some are much easier to sell online than others. In particular, I’ve found that people applying for credit products (loans, credit cards, mortgages) behave very differently than people applying for deposit products (savings and current account). We’ve had to adjust our strategies appropriately so the lesson here is that a firm should not expect all its products to behave in the same way online.

    They should also consider how their customer communication strategy may need to change. Customers acquired online have different communication preferences and will respond better to things like email or online chat than traditional phone calls or letters. In contrast to traditional branch or phone customers, the firm may never actually speak to an online customer and they should consider how this will impact their existing comms model – how to set customer expectations, secure customer commitment to send in documentation or provide additional information etc. This will differ significantly depending on the type of business of course.

    Fulfilment – for a bricks and mortar operation this is a huge part of moving online. Where are orders going to be packaged? Will this be in house or outsourced? Who will they use for distribution and delivery? etc

    Channel Conflict – what are they going to sell online and how will it be priced? Will they be generating online sales by reaching new markets or will they be cannibalising their existing channels? How can they avoid this? You probably have this covered under Distribution / Channel strategies.

    Think about the backend – what systems do they currently use for managing orders. Can online sales be integrated with these systems or will they have to use a swivel chair approach? Different costs associated with each.

    Cheers

    Gavin

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  4. Some great insights there Gavin. Spot on in particular when you talk about the appropriateness of products to the channel. Some products simply don’t work as well in the online space.

    However the opportunity for businesses is to rethink those products and adapt them to meet the expectations and behaviours of customers online. If you can do this with a product sucessfully it can offer real market differentiation as your competitors are still plugging away at trying to fit a sqaure plug into a round hole.

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  5. Thats a good point. I had to do that with the mortgage applicaiton that we put up. The full version was far too long and complicated for someone to fill out themselves online unaided so I had to strip it down to the essentials. Main point was to strike a balance between what a user was willing and able to fill out online and the minimum info that we needed to make an initial decision as to whether it was an app we wanted to pursue. Had to change a fair bit of the back office processing workflow to accomodate the “mini app” but is paid off as we were able to realise significant business from a channel that traditionally was not one that would generate actual mortgage applications.

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  6. Gavin, I’ve had the same experience with the insurance purchase process. That balance between internal risk management and a customer-focused sales process is often very tricky – but a critical one to get right.

    Paul, anchor pricing is an interesting concept/strategy. Pricing online is quite a sophisticated activity, especially when you are competing with customers expectations that online should be cheaper and business models that are grounded in offering basic levels of service for FREE.

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  7. One that I might add (although I’m not sure if it’s right for your specific presentation) would be organisational design, i.e where does this team sit?

    Are they in sales, marketing, customer care etc.? Is there an e-buisness manager and if so who does she report into?

    It’s a pretty basic one, but I think an important one, especially for bricks & mortar companies as the new online channels would probably be competing with existing channels.

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  8. Peter, thanks for those suggestions. The question of structure is a critical one and I haven’t found an organisation yet that has figured out the “right” approach. It is different for different types of organisation, but there is a fundamental re-think of org structure required that is less functionally driven and more customer focused. Will definitely be chatting about this in the morning.

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  9. Hi Brendan,

    I was fortunate enough to attend your presentation; Well done, a great deal of thought provoking info shared, excellent chairing of the panel also.

    Thanks again.

    Trish

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