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The pivotal position that the Internet enjoys today in the world is unquestionable. From every aspect, the Internet is now one of the most happening places. A lot of real things are happening in the virtual world. From a sales and marketing perspective the Internet is now a crucial tool that helps to leverage a marketer’s position tremendously. People are online not just to chat and meet new people. They check out a wide range of products and services, scan their reviews, read customer experiences, and finally buy the products if it suits them.
People love to buy products they want on the Internet, pay for it online, and save time and energy by doing so. There is no need to travel, shop around with kids in tow, face aggressive sales people, and tolerate the assorted ennui that awaits the entire process at times. There are also people that hawk their wares on the Internet ranging from comic books to cars. Almost everything that a person may require can be bought on the Internet. So we have a nearly infinite number of ‘doubleyoudoubleyoudoubleyou.product.coms’ floating in the virtual world ready to cater to every need and fancy of people.
Whether it’s business to business sales or business to customer sales, no sales person or marketer can be in business without the use of the Internet. Not only is the Internet a buzzing market place it is also poised to move ahead of traditional markets. Advertisers are shifting their focus on to the online world and by the year 2011 it is predicted that online ad spending will surpass traditional media ad spending.
An effective prospecting program cannot do without the Internet prospecting component. The Internet can help in researching prospects in several ways: providing information on the buyers through survey and study reports available online and through social network forums.
It can be likened to a humongous library, accessible 24/7, with information on latest market trends, consumer preferences, and business buzz. A sales person or marketer can get instant information about his prospects’ buying habits and preferences that can help him in prospecting better. For any kind of business the Internet has plenty of information in store that can help a marketer. Various survey reports find their way to the Internet with regularity. The accessibility to such precious reports may either be free or paid but the speed with which a marketer can acquire data on buyers with the help of the Internet is amazing. Websites of prospects also provide solid information about the possibility of the prospect qualifying as a buyer.
Basing the relevance of their product vis-Ãƒ -vis the demographics of the members of social media, sales people and marketers can narrow down their list of prospects. Additionally, a sales person can hear the ‘whispers” and the “conversations” of the market in these social forums. This is the place where new prospects can be created and also existing customers can be targeted for up selling.
There are social networks that are formed on exclusive habits, interests, backgrounds, professions, and age groups. Wine connoisseurs have formed www.snooth.com and night club frequenters meet at www.dontstayin.com. Divorced people commiserate among themselves and get strength at www.divorce360.com. International travelers can keep posted about their friends and vice-versa at www.wayn.com (where are you now: wayn). It is possible to have access to these members and refine prospect research.
A sales person or marketer can further study the members within a particular network and narrow down prospecting to even more relevant criteria.
Social networks are the place that are appropriate for viral and referral selling. A sales person should include in his prospect list social network members that are persuasive and have more contacts with other members in the network. A researcher should also identify a leader or an influential profile in a network and target him. Every social network has its share of connoisseurs. Their opinions are held with esteem and their words carry weight. If they tread a path others follow almost blindly. These people can turn out to be valuable prospects for a sales person and usually there is no-cost for this information.
Search engines are equally useful for buyers to search for products and for sellers to locate buyers. Just as a buyer enters his search words in search engines like google, yahoo, MSN etc. a sales person can follow the same technique to zero in on prospects.
A person interested in joining a gym in Chicago can locate his choice of gym by looking it up in the search engines. Similarly, a manufacturer of gym equipment accessories can type in the key words “gym” and the area of his choice (say Chicago here) in the search engine tab. Wow — the list of gyms in Chicago would appear on the page. This would give the sales person access to the contact addresses of most gyms that he is interested in selling his gym equipment accessories to. The researcher also can dip in to the information pool of the Gym web sites and learn about their membership policies, installed equipment, years of existence, and facilities information etc.
The search can narrow down to further categories like up market or affordable gyms etc. Such a search may also lead to a directory of all the gyms in Chicago making it convenient for the sales person to identify and study prospects. The search engine would also pop up web forum pages where gym related dialogs and opinions are exchanged by members of various gyms and fitness enthusiasts. That should give a clear picture to the sales person about his target market.
It is obvious that the Internet helps in boosting sales by providing access to a wealth of data and information about prospects. Within minutes, statistics, opinions, as well as background information about the prospects are available at our finger tips — thanks to the Internet. Prudence lies in making good us of it.
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