Online-2-Offline: Where sales and money are made

Everyone understands the growing importance of an online presence, but how does one actually translate this into sales?

Facebook friends and likes, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, website visitors, email and newsletter subscribers – all worthless!
Let me ask you this: where are sales and money made? The answer is offline! Not on Facebook or your website but over the phone and/or in your office.
The problem is that there is so much focus on generating interest online, but unless you know how to take these online opportunities and turn them into offline customers, you won’t make any income for your business.
If you don’t know how to do this, or are not currently doing it, then all those friends, likes, connections, followers and visitors are worthless.
Here are some tips to successfully move prospects from online to offline:
A compelling offer is critical
In the online world of virtually infinite information, you have to present your business and your offer in a way that differentiates you from everyone else, while compelling the prospect to take the next step.
Think of it this way: without a different and compelling offer, why would a prospect contact you? There are thousands of agents out there, and many big-name real estate groups with widespread brand recognition – you’ve got to stand out.
Speed of delivery is critical
In the space of one minute, your prospect could have surfed half a dozen websites and submitted as many inquiries or requests for more information.
Research proves that the longer the time between an online inquiry and contact, the less chance you have of converting that lead into a sale. You need a system to respond to online inquiries or requests within minutes – not hours, days or weeks!
Speed of delivery creates that wow factor in your customer’s mind, because most never expect an immediate reply when submitting an online form. It also conveys credibility and trust, because you have demonstrated that you can deliver on your promise (and in fact overdeliver in your prospect’s mind).
Getting them into your controlled world is critical
The problem with online is that there are so many distractions and comparisons and there is so much competition that it becomes difficult to rise above the noise.
The aim of your online activities should be to transfer prospects over to an environment you can control, such as direct personal email contact, phone contact, postal contact and live-in-person contact.
Strategic follow-up is critical for maximum conversion and profit
Online inquiries are often completed by prospects who are “just curious” but not in a position to buy a home or investment right now. Statistics show that the majority of customers do not buy immediately but in fact buy at some point three to 12 months (or more) after their initial research and inquiry.
This means that if you do not have a systemized and automated follow-up system to nurture your prospects over time, when they are ready to buy they might not think of you first – meaning all your hard work and money spent generating the lead online has been a waste of time.
If you build a relationship through constant communication, when your prospect is ready they will have you at the top of their mind.
Now I have to end on a word of warning: each of these four elements must be implemented in a specific way, otherwise you could do more harm than good. Creating a compelling offer requires in-depth market research and knowledge of emotional direct response marketing.
In the same way, orchestrating the transfer from online into your controlled environment, then putting together a follow-up plan, requires a high level of experience, and I urge readers to employ an expert to help.
Go get ’em!

This is a slightly amended version of an article written by James Veigli, leading industry consultant and speaker. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.