The Internet: Great selling and the human connection

Back in ancient Internet times, there was a company called Adsavers. Adsavers had an idea to put interactive ads on computer screen savers. They raised millions of dollars in venture capital for this idea. Unfortunately, the idea did not take off and the company folded.

Despite having some very smart people backing the company, Adsavers was missing the mark. Think about when you use a screen saver. It is normally when you are away from your computer. This kind of advertising was just shouting into the void. The human element was missing.

Fast forward to today, and the same thing is happening. The Internet has cut out the importance of human connection almost entirely. Lead generation, prospecting, even qualifying those prospects has been reduced to mathematics. While mathematical analysis has always been important in both marketing and sales, we cannot expect math to take the place of seeing and hearing people, passionate about what they’re doing, to persuade us to their way of thinking.

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, the ability to connect with people through sight and sound is what’s missing in Internet advertising. The human element is – and as far as I’m concerned, always will be – the hallmark of great selling.

Great selling is consultative. Few people will buy a high-dollar enterprise solution just by clicking a link. That’s a tactic for a low-end impulse buy, not for high-end systems. For sophisticated sales, it is better to speak to 10 qualified people and persuade them to purchase a product rather than trying to target blindly on social media.

The Internet is a knee-jerker. As a sales tool, it’s still a sledgehammer, not a scalpel. Historically, the response rate on direct mail is roughly 3 percent. This is considerably lower than the conversion rate in consultative sales based on relationships. Response rates on email spam are so low that no matter how you slice and dice the demographics and push information to Internet shoppers based on their likes, it simply doesn't work as a sustainable revenue model for sophisticated sales.

Consider the significant volume of email marketing offers that disappear in your email inbox. You receive a spam email, which then is picked up by filters and placed into your junk folder. Someone generates the email and your computer automatically gets rid of it without you even noticing it.

That’s not to say that the whole of Internet marketing is useless, but it has to be much better at targeting. By grabbing a couple of hundred Twitter feeds, based on hashtag conversations, a company can do targeted marketing much more effectively than by carpet-bombing the known Internet universe – no matter how sound the math is for creating offers.

You simply need to have some degree of human interaction if you’re selling anything other than a commoditized product.

For big-ticket, sophisticated sales, give me the human element any day. If I can see your face, hear your voice and understand why you’ve come to me, I’m much more open to hearing your offer. That’s true for most people who make enterprise-scale purchases. The Internet is still a research medium for them

Just because you can sell advertising on the Internet doesn’t mean it will scale to the enterprise level. Without the human connection, you just don’t have what you need for great selling.