Author:Greenberg, Brian J.

"The companies that thrive in [today's] extreme vetting environment are the ones who boast salesmen who do not actually sell."

SALES professionals were ranked lower on honesty than members of Congress in a Gallup poll. This exemplifies why consumers increasingly are looking to their peers, rather than companies, "gurus," and experts for advice on what to buy, eat, listen to, read, and watch. Amazon, for example, can attribute much of its success to mission-critical consumer reviews--raw peer-to-peer interaction that carries an enormous amount of weight in the hearts and minds of wary consumers. As more people participate and contribute to social media, consumers are getting savvier by the day. The companies that thrive in this extreme vetting environment are the ones who boast salesmen who do not actually sell.

More than 2,000,000 success and marketing books are published each year, and most of them are fluffy and useless. When added to the thousands of marketing articles that also come out annually, there is a ton of information to sort through to the point of information overload--this as online entrepreneurs and business owners face a tremendous number of obstacles when it comes to marketing their Internet-based companies.

Here are a few methods you can use to shorten your sales process and start to close sales without actually selling:

Garner reviews on both your website and third-party websites. People have an aversion to asking for reviews from customers. It is an uncomfortable part of the conversation if not handled correctly. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it. The most-critical key is timing. The best time to ask for a review is after the service is complete and the customer is entirely satisfied and happy with the product or service.

There is no need to be pushy about it. Plant the seed and let the customer know you will send an email with a link to where feedback can be posted. It is as simple as saying, "Is it alright if I send you a feedback email?" After the customer confirms, you have a commitment.

When sending the feedback request email, include a link directly to the URL where the customer can post a review. It is best to get feedback on your website first because it is feedback that you control and have the option not to make public. If the customer provides a five-star review, email that person again with the exact comment he or she posted, and include links to third-party sites like Yelp, the Better Business...

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