Making Technology Work


It’s all very well making an innovative product and identifying your market but if you don’t sell it, you won’t be in business for long.

New ways to take orders

On the Internet, your company Web site could enable customers to browse detailed descriptions of your products and prices, and let them place orders automatically 24 hours a day. They can pay either by credit card over the Net or – if nervous of giving their card details – ask you to contact them by phone.

Climb Ltd, an outdoor equipment retailer, encourage Internet sales by operating a discount structure and providing a secure order form for credit cards. In the first year, Internet sales contributed 10% of their turnover.

Better Presentations

The use of laptop computers and CD-ROM makes it easy to tailor impressive presentations to a customer’s specific needs, with photographs, sound and video stored and played back from the CD. For example, the salesperson could use the CD to call up specific information in response to a customer’s queries.

Long distance demonstrations can be made at a distance through video and data conferencing. It can achieve what a face-to-face meeting can but without any of the associated travel costs or time away from the office.

Smoother sales transactions

You can process your customer’s orders more efficiently – and probably get paid quicker – with Electronic Date Interchange (EDI). The initial investment can be offset against reduced transaction times and costs – and it’s an almost guaranteed way to achieve favoured supplier status with some large purchasers.

Keeping in touch

Mobile communications keeps a company in constant touch with its sales force. By tapping into a company network, a sales person visiting a customer can find out information on stock availability, product information, prices or delivery times. They could send an order back to head office, and generate the invoice.

Questions & Answers

Q. How can I cut the paperwork needed when dealing with quotes and new orders for customers?
A. With e-mail and standardised forms on computer, you need only type in the relevant details and hit the ‘send’ key – your client will receive the quote normally within minutes. A short e-mail saves you paperwork and the cost of postage.

A. For regular customers who place large, complicated orders, it could be worth looking into EDI. Although it takes a while to get the EDI system in place, once organised it lets you electronically close the sale and move the money quickly.

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