Sales in the Digital Age: Online Reputations Are Everything
Whether you’re selling yourself, a product, service, or idea, your online reputation makes a powerful impact on how successful you are. The way we communicate with family, friends, business associates, clients, and the world has been revolutionized in today’s digital environment. Everyone has the opportunity to be famous, or infamous, for something in a matter of minutes.
Andy Warhol said that everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. Today, those minutes of fame have the potential to live on forever digitally. When you’re in the business of selling products and services, it’s your duty to ensure that what potential customers see online engages them in a positive way. The management of your online reputation is everything!
Most people will tell you they make important decisions after weighing the pros and cons of situations. Some will tell you that they “go with their guts.” The truth is that for nearly all decisions, even those evaluated using logic, the final determination is strongly influenced by emotion. It’s a natural aspect of being human. The dominant tipping point in most situations is how the buyer will feel after the decision is made. Decision-makers may be relieved to have found a viable solution, or they may be excited about something new entering their lives or influencing their businesses in a positive manner.
Understanding that emotion comes into play when making purchasing decisions, it’s important to proactively and positively influence human emotions through your digital presence. Most people who contemplate getting involved with you or your product will want to go through a getting-to-know-you phase. It’s a normal part of building relationships. It’s where we decide whether we like the person, brand, or product enough to invest more of our time and effort into them.
In sales, this is referred to as building or establishing rapport. It’s where you learn about your buyers and find commonality with them, not solely on a business level. It’s when you establish that you’re able to help them with their needs so they will listen to what you have to say. It’s the first step in building trust.
You can be fairly certain that the getting-to-know-you phase will include the buyers’ review of your digital presence. It’s the go-to resource for everyone these days. How you or your company come across online can either start or end the sales process, or it could just make the process much more challenging if there is any negative publicity or reviews to overcome. Your online reputation may be the tipping point for decisions about purchasing from you or building business relationships.
The way we sell and foster trust as professionals must include authentic representation of our brands as providing tremendous value to our ideal customers. Authenticity is highly valued. Coming across as either phony or too good to be true will cause hesitation in the minds of buyers, creating the opposite of trust. And where there is no trust, there will be no sales.
If you’re passionate about your clients and your products, that passion should show in your online presence. Part of being authentic is not to be afraid to speak about what you believe in or what your company believes in—just be realistic about it. Be thoughtful about the words and images used online to represent yourself and your business. Being passionate is important but do it in a manner that attracts buyers and doesn’t offend anyone. After all, even those who may not be qualified to own your product may know someone who is. Negative experiences are shared more frequently than positive ones. An unqualified person could negatively impact qualified friends or associates.
Not every page or post has to be about your product. Demonstrating authentic humanity through positive comments, good works, or light humor (depending on your type of product) can be quite attractive to those researching online.
Going back to the concept of “moments of fame,” it’s imperative that your online reputation be consistent and be managed consistently. Avoid taking risks with your digital reputation by checking in and evaluating what’s being said online about your product or company on a regular basis.
Express gratitude for positive comments or reviews and address negative ones immediately. When challenges arise both the solution and speed of solution are critical to their impact on your business. Being proactive demonstrates a high level of care for your reputation, which equates to a high level of attention being given to customers.
There are thousands of nuances inherent in building relationships and creating sales opportunities. Mishandled, any one of them could cause buyers to seek solutions elsewhere. Effective management of your online reputation is simple, strategic, and achievable.
Originally published here.