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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Why Sell Online?

Last week, Marka and the FEI tribe went over a few reasons why businesses should consider selling through online channels. This week, the discussion continues. Remember, fire = print.

One cloudy afternoon, Lucy, Numo and Marka entered Zoot’s office to find him working at his O-puter.

“Hey tribe,” he said. “The O-net is great! I was looking at my prospect’s O-book page when I saw a friend request from a long-lost relative.”

Lucy glanced at Zoot’s screen. “You’re related to a Cyclops? Why am I not surprised? The O-web is useful for much more than just networking, Zoot. It’s also a sales channel with a distinct set of advantages for retail, direct sales and other distribution methods  we’ve discussed.”

“Tell me more,” Zoot said.

Lucy pulled a piece of coal from her toga and scribbled on the chalkboard fastened to Zoot’s office wall.

Less Overhead

“If a company’s O-line sales efforts are flourishing, it may decide to divert more resources to that channel and away from its own brick-and-mortar stores,” Lucy explained. “Businesses that sell primarily O-line can substantially reduce their investments in the most costly resource of all—manpower.”
“If O-line selling proves extremely effective, we may also consider closing some of our storefront locations,” Numo added. “Imagine how much we could reduce fixed monthly expenditures if we didn’t have to pay rent and utilities on our various FEI Fire Huts!”

“We’re assuming there are no additional costs associated with selling O-line,” Marka pointed out. “This isn’t the case. A high-end O-site that displays all of our products and offers customers an easy, efficient ordering process can be a substantial investment. An SEO plan that will help our O-site land on the front page of O-Google—where many O-line shoppers begin their search—can cost a pretty Drachma too. So will be training and employing a fleet of tech support people.”

“Tech support?” Org asked.

“Yes,” Marka said. “We’ll have to set up toll-free O-lines to help shoppers when there’s a problem with the site or the O-line ordering process. FEI’s commitment to stellar customer service must extend into the O-line realm.”

“Let’s not forget training existing CSRs to handle O-line orders, or hiring a new CSR team specifically to handle O-line orders,” Lucy added.

“Will a well-maintained, sales-centric O-site cost less than maintaining a store in the long run?” Marka asked rhetorically. “Perhaps. But we can’t ignore the costs involved.”

“Customers need to test out certain FEI products at our store locations,” Zoot interjected. “Would you purchase an FEI flame-thrower without first spending time in our store testing center to make sure the flame wasn’t too strong?

“FEI stores also provide experienced, in-store CSRs and salespeople to walk customers through fire-related queries and problems. That kind of in-person support simply can’t be matched by O-line stores, at least not yet.”

“There’s no question that store-front selling offers distinct advantages as well,” Lucy agreed. “Well tribe, that’s it for this week. Next week, we’ll discuss another benefit of using the O-web to sell and distribute FEI products.”

Very impressive so far,” Zoot said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to O-Skype with my cycloptic cousin.”

Today’s FIRE! Point
The online sales channel has a distinct set of advantages from retail, direct sales, and other distribution methods. Businesses that sell primarily online can substantially reduce their investments in the most costly resource of all—manpower. There are, however, costs to selling online that must be considered before venturing into that arena.

FIRE! In Action
Hardware Sales Improves Its Online Distribution and Grows Sales

The hardware supply company revamped its online selling process to focus on increasing conversion rates and tracking and reporting all transactions. The more sales-focused website allowed Hardware Sales to increase its overall online orders by 23 percent in a short period of time.

Next week: The FEI tribe discusses another advantage of online selling.

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