The new ABC’s of sales (oops, I mean conversion)

By Phillip Klien
Owner & Chief Innovation Officer, BTBuckets

Learn tips and tricks from the Jedi salesman!
Learn tips and tricks from the Jedi salesman!

Admit it – when you think of “sales,” you immediately conjure an image of a sleazy car salesman pressuring you to buy something different than what you really want. It’s as if sales is something of a necessary evil.

Well, we don’t do this as overtly in the internet industry. We like to think our objectives are more noble, focusing on the famous “conversion.” But really, it is all about closing the loop on transactions — on the internet or in a used car lot, we’re all salespeople.

In the offline world, the ultimate mantra for sales is “always be closing” (ABC). What this really means is that selling is a process with stages and, if you follow the process, you will simply be closing your prospect to the next stage in your own specific sales cycle. Salespeople are hammered to follow these guidelines and prompt (read: persuade) people to complete a transaction. In any industry, businesses can use the sales process blueprint and customize it to their own products or services.

However, the internet’s free flow of information has created an environment where buyers and sellers are often equally educated about a product, changing the way transactions are closed. In online purchasing, it’s ultimately up to the customer to close the loop on a transaction, and in many ways, this has turned the entire sales process upside down. The question at hand is how to adapt the ABC concept online.

There’s a new framework for the traditional ABC’s of selling that Daniel Pink first introduced it in his latest book “To Sell is Human.” This new framework hones in on:

  • Attunement: Bringing oneself into harmony with individuals, groups and context.
  • Buoyancy: Learn from life insurance salespeople and the world’s premier social scientists what to do before, during and after your sales encounters.
  • Clarity: The capacity to make sense of murky situations. One of the most effective ways of swaying customers is to uncover challenges they may not know they have.

Mr. Pink proceeds to explain how to be an excellent salesperson by incorporating these approaches. Let’s take a look at how to apply these behaviors to our online conversion process:


For me, this rings a bell immediately — personalization. There are changes we can apply to the buying experience through personalization that translates into the conversion process. If we are attuned to a user’s characteristics (where they came from, if they have already bought from us, how many products they’ve seen, what city they are visiting the website from, etc.), we can create a more harmonious experience by leveraging this data to create different experiences for each users.


Get a handle your analytics data and find the three top cities your users are located. For each of these cities, write a customized message about that city that appears on the first page where these users land. Something as simple as this may completely change how the user will react on your site.


Mr. Pink discusses how to be prepared to deal with rejection throughout the entire sales process. This calls for an understanding of human intuitions and how people make decisions, which can be examined in studies like Robert Cialdini’s weapons of influence. Ultimately, it’s about being prepared and learning from the sales experience. This can be translated into the online world through A/B and multivariate testing on websites. This enables you to avoid rejection and optimize the conversion rate by extensively testing your website experience.


Don’t know what element to start testing on your product page? Start by simply trying one a persuasion techniques, like one of Cialdini’s 6 weapons of influence, and begin testing.


When I read about clarity in Mr. Pink’s latest book, I thought of user reviews. Whenever I am deciding if I will buy a new book on my Kindle, I rush to the user reviews before even reading the plot summary. There are various stats showcasing the benefit of featuring consumer reviews on your product page and even resources showing that bad reviews are better than no reviews at all.


Create an incentive for users to review the products they purchase. Offer a discount coupon on a future purchase if the user goes back to your site and reviews the purchased product.

I hope this brings new light on how you are optimizing your user experience and would love to learn more on how you are using sales (ahem, conversion) techniques on your website at Conversion Conference in April. My session will be about the 5 elements every high-converting product page must have.

About the Author

klienphillipPhillip has an active role with web analytics and adserving in Latin America. He is also co-founder of Predicta, an adserving and web analytics software/service provider in Brazil that was selected by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in 2012. Phillip is also a tutor for the award-winning UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics and helped develop measurement guidelines for the IAB. He is the founder of BTBuckets – a free on-site behavioral segmentation and targeting platform and SiteApps – app store for websites.

You can follow Phillip on Twitter.

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