“Understand what keeps the customer up at night.”
Those words from Bob Regnerus hit at the heart of successful e-commerce transactions.
Regnerus, an online marketing consultant and author of the recent book, Big Ticket eCommerce: How to Sell High-Priced Products and Services Using the Internet, offers his insight into successful e-commerce transactions.
According to Regnerus, businesses will catapult themselves into a great position with potential big-ticket e-commerce buyers by offering Web-based information that helps to solve a problem.
Podcast: Listen to the entire interview (21:12 minutes).
And what is considered to be a big-ticket e-commerce item?
Generally any product or service that costs US$2,000 or more or requires additional information before a decision is made is a big-ticket item, Regnerus says.
He points out special reports as an example of a free item that can offer hard-hitting, cutting-edge information to prospects while turning them into a lead.
But be careful not to clutter your Web site with too much information, Regnerus warns. Too much information is confusing and actually drives off potential customers.
In addition to offering information, big-ticket e-commerce requires consistent follow-up from sellers in the form of e-mails, newsletters, and even an old-fashioned phone call.
Regarding social networking, Regnerus says that businesses can utilize the emergence of social networking tools such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as relationship-building opportunities.
Social networking provides opportunities to connect with customers and prospects. But Regnerus cautions that social networking should not generally be used for a hard sale approach.
Here are some excerpts of the interview:
E-Commerce Times: Before we get to why they call you “the leads king,” could you give us a definition of exactly what is e-commerce and what does that mean today in 2009?
E-commerce is a term that’s been around a number of years. I think the company we’re most familiar with for kind of popularizing e-commerce is Amazon. It’s really using the Internet — a business using the Internet to sell their products and services. E-commerce is just — it’s more than the traditional model, which I talk about in my book, Big Ticket eCommerce. It’s more than just click here, add to cart and check out. E-commerce is really an all encompassing strategy that companies could use to sell their products and services, not just online but use the online methods to actually convert prospects into buyers offline too.
ECT: What has been the evolution of e-commerce, let’s say just in the last five to six years? Has there been a significant difference between, let’s say, where we are in 2009 vs. where we were five to six years ago?
Yeah, absolutely. The thing that I’ve noticed is that the businesses that started out using the e-commerce strategies were selling things which I would call simple, easy-to-understand, or relatively inexpensive — very transactional types of businesses: Books, CDs, DVDs, clothing, things like that which really don’t require that much thought. People can kind of get in, they know what they’re looking for, they make their purchase, they check out. But what I’ve seen occurring in the past few years is that every type of business has been using the Internet and is using e-commerce to kind of drive their business.
It’s allowed for much more complex sales models, where businesses can do things like generating leads, so that they can put them into a sales process, because a lot of the businesses are selling things which are much more complex, which are expensive. Consumers really need more time and more information for them to make a choice. That’s what I talk about in the book, Big Ticket eCommerce, is what are some of the strategies a business like that can use, who have complex or high-priced services, where customers need a lot more information before they can make a purchase?
ECT: And what are one or two of those strategies, Bob? Because one of the things I hear you say is for big-ticket purchases, that buyers will need more information, and the first thing that came to my mind was content on the Web site that gives them more information.
Absolutely. You hit it right on the head. The Internet is the ultimate medium, I think, for getting answers to questions. The advent of the search engine has really allowed somebody to sit down at a moment’s notice and get answers to their questions. So what I found is that businesses that understand this paradox, of people sitting down and using the Internet for information, can use that to their advantage. So let’s say you are a financial adviser, and of course at the time we’re taking this recording, the stock market is up and down, and people might be getting a little frustrated and maybe looking for some different answers in terms of how to fix their portfolio.
So what they’re going to do is they’re going to do a Web search on one of the popular search engines, and what’s going to happen is, they’re going to be looking for information that helps solve their problems. Now, what I would teach a financial adviser to do is create some sort of free report or some information that would be of interest to somebody like that. And what’s gonna happen is, that person now becomes an interested prospect — I term it a “lead.” And now that financial adviser can follow up with them in reference to the information that they sent them, but also now talk to them about their products and services that they have available.