Applying traditional selling methods to eCommerce

by Diana Alborch March 05, 2020

Have you ever thought that an old book giving advice on how to sell, could advise you on how to approach your customer online? 


The world of online business might seem complex and different and difficult to approach. However, customers are still the same, and most of the reactions are intrinsic consumer behaviour traits that have not changed throughout recent years. Let me illustrate this with an example below.

My dad and I have always had interesting conversations about bridging a generational gap of about fifty years. Last time I was home, we were talking about sales and sales strategies, and by the end of our talk, he lent me a book about sales. This book was published in 1991 and was mainly focused on strategy for the door to door and store salespeople.

It was interesting to see how most of the advice the book gives to salespeople perfectly applies to sell online. Let me illustrate some of the quotes here: 


“Sellers believe they are selling a product so they figure out arguments in favour of this product. Then, they forget about the client, when in fact they are selling this product to the client.”

Selling online reduces the face to face interaction, which makes it even more important to keep in mind that we are selling products to someone. Keep in mind the practical aspect of the product and its characteristics, but also focus on targeting your audience. Develop a journey or story that will bring in the customer and increase the chances of him buying the product.


“[...] must make sure the client feels like home, and that’s key for non-verbal language. The seller needs to establish a positive contact with the client starting from the first seconds of the conversation, otherwise, no technique will work out.”

The first impression always counts, not only person to person but also when a customer looks at our website. And the first thing a user sees when entering our page is the top part of our home page. It is key to have a clear and targeted top part of our site, being it a slider for pictures or a static definition of your top-selling point or motto. This is the most expensive screen real estate and it’s your window to the customer. Don’t let the most appealing part of your website be the last line after scrolling down. Focus on an interesting and engaging top part.


“The shop windows are put out in a way in which we don’t know if we are inside or outside the store. The boundary between outside (client’s land) and inside (seller’s land) is not clearly established, so the client is already inside the shop in the role of a buyer before getting in”

Now, we changed the physical store windows for our websites. However, this boundary between the client’s land, in our case their home for example, and seller’s land, the online store, needs to be invisible. We need to pull the customer into the buying role just by looking at our store. To achieve this, the website must be appealing, comfortable to be in, and engaging so the customer takes the step to become a buyer. 


“Clients do not pay attention to arguments that don’t fit their criteria. If we spend too long time with arguments in which the customer is not interested, he might believe that we are not responding to his demands [...]” 

One does not always fit all. Just as a salesperson would tailor their speech for the customer, we need to tailor our website, product presentation, and communication tone to make our customers feel rewarded and special. Even businesses like Amazon, Youtube or Netflix who have managed to get closer to this broad idea, still struggle with increasing customization for each user so that the experience is tailored to each individual.


“We must get in harmony with the client and guide him towards the purchase, however, this is not possible without an atmosphere of trust.” [...] “Competence of product: be able to analyze the need for the client and sell the right product for him, being able to give a quick answer to any question to the product’s characteristics”

Customers worldwide still seek trust before making their purchase. It is key to build this atmosphere of trust.

To do this we can bring us more in the picture, give a background of you or your company that creates an emotional bond. Other ways of developing and keeping this trustful mood are by keeping the consistency of tone and being able to answer any question your customer may have like return policy, shipment or product characteristics among others.



As you can see, from thirty years ago until now, the key intrinsic consumer behaviour traits have not changed. So for those who are wary to launch your business online, go ahead and approach your customers genuinely as you would have done in your stores. If you are not comfortable with setting up your online store and keeping up with the digital jargon, reach out for us, we are happy to help you.



The book is Mieux vendre avec la PNL from Catherine Cudicio, 1993.

Diana Alborch

Passionate UI/UX project manager.
In our team, Diana shares her tips on enhancing communication through design.
You will find her on a brunch cafe in Beijing, or hunting for the best sailing spots in China.

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