The power and persuasion of interactive sales tools
I take this opportunity to present before you my views on the power and persuasion of interactive sales tools in marketing. Whether a company is undergoing reorganization, launching a new identity or introducing a refreshed design, it is important that they use interactive sales tools and resources to promote their ideas and drive consumer behavior. “The development of new technologies such as virtual reality and chat, coupled with consumers’ growing preference for material that is directly valuable to them, is driving the emergence of new forms of content” (Caroline Cartellieri, Andrew J. Parsons). for marketing and sales.
The emergence of the Internet has changed the rules of sales and marketing. “If television exemplifies the physical marketplace, the Internet is the virtual market space.”(Dan Steinbock). The virtual marketplace has given birth to the use of interactive sales tools. “Communication is everything, interactivity is the only goal”( David Nicholas, Ian Rowlands). Whether you wish to create brand awareness, promote sales of products and services, inform about upgradation of existing products and services, target existing or potential customers or provide customer support, what ever be your business goal you cannot survive in today’s competitive scenario without using interactive sales tools.
“Interactive sales tools “allow consumers to “experience” the ownership of a product, service, or brand. The best current examples let the user test out a product. Sharp’s Web site offers a personal tour of the Zaurus personal digital assistant in which consumers can input calendar or address information exactly as they would if they used the product in real life. At The Gap’s site, customers can “try on” outfits and mix and match separates from the current range. In the future, technologies such as virtual reality will make ads even more experiential: customers will feel as though they are test-driving a new car, or walking down the aisles of a grocery store”( Varsha Rao, Michael P. Zeisser).
Today, the Internet has made it possible to transcend boundaries and reach clients across the globe at extremely cost effective rates. Now, the best way to service clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days an year is by using interactive sales tools. For example, for selling products and services, the most interactive sales tool is the website. By leveraging interactive communications to deliver a customized experience to targeted audiences, you can provide complete information about your products on your website. Let us, for example, consider that your company publishes textbooks on computer application software. You can provide complete listing of your books along with summaries, reviews and sample chapters on your website, which your customers can access any time of the day or night. And if you provide an e-commerce facility, the interested people can make a purchase even in the middle of the night. Then again, you can have a 24X7 live chat service on your website to answer customer questions and further promote products and services.
You can have visitors to register on your website when they browse through the products and services. You can use various tools to identify the pages they visit. This will give you an idea of what products are in demand. Based on the data, you can then plan your marketing strategy. “Customer insight is the key that unlocks the value of CRM data. It allows organizations to identify their most valuable customers and high-value prospects and to take action on these insights”(Rainer Famulla, Bernhard Klein Wassink).
Then again, you can have visitors to register on your website. This way you get a database of potential customers whom you can then target by various email campaigns and providing information through e-newsletters and brochures. Using these interactive tools, you actually persuade a focused and targeted audience to buy your products and services.
To support my case, I now take the example of the use of interactive tools in the real estate sector. Real estate companies can promote their products and services through interactive videos that can provide state-of-the-art, true-to-life renderings and virtual reality tours. These tours allow prospective buyers to see/walkthrough a suite or home viewing it in 3D with colour, texture, furnishings and lighting in a life-like setting before construction even begins. These interactive tools also enable the customers to select and compare key plans, view amenities and see site plans of the grounds, save them and compare them at a later time. These tools also allow the customers to rotate the building in 3D allowing for a full 360 degree view of the apartments they are interested in. So by sitting in the comfort of their homes or offices, the potential clients can virtually visit on-site and get a clear-cut idea of the property on offer.
I rest my case by saying that in today’s marketing scenario where more and more people take to the online to both sell and buy products and services, the best way to reach your target audience and convince them about your brand and quality of your products and services, is by using interactive sales tools.
Caroline Cartellieri, Andrew J. Parsons, Varsha Rao, Michael P. Zeisser. The Real Impact of Internet Advertising. The McKinsey Quarterly, No. 3, 1997.
Varsha Rao, Michael P. Zeisser. The Impact of Interactivity and Design. Journal of Small Business Management, Vol. 43, 2005
David Nicholas, Ian Rowlands. The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation. Aslib/IMI, 2000. 192 pgs.
Rainer Famulla, Bernhard Klein Wassink. < http://www.accenture.com/Global/Research_and_Insights/Outlook/By_Alphabet/UnlockingInsight.htm>
Dan Steinbock. The Birth of Internet Marketing Communications. Quorum Books, 2000. 312 pgs.