[Read] How to make sales online – an epic step by step guide to making sales online
In this post, you will learn the step by step process for how to make sales online. This process works for selling online courses, selling coaching programmes online, along with memberships and consultancy programme. If you’re keen to make more sales online, this post will show you how to do it.
There are two key challenges I am seeing on repeat, both with clients and my wider online community:
(1) I have been posting online, and sharing links to my course but no-one is buying it.
(2) I want to sell my course online but I keep thinking ‘who will buy from me’?
The first is a question of process, the second is a question of belief. In this article, I will focus on how to make sales online in an attempt to get you moving today, whether that means adapting your offer or improving your online marketing funnel in order to make more sales online.
Let’s start with how to make sales online.
P.s. Don’t want to read it? Here’s a video of a recent Facebook live I did explaining it in full. It’s 2 1/2 hours long and well worth the watch if you have the time!
How to make sales online:
There is a process that people have been following for years to make sales online. It is very, very simple. If you follow it, and do the trial and error work of posting and tweaking, posting and tweaking, it is very likely you will make sales. The problem is that people skip key elements of the process or never finish it, and then last minute they just post about their offer online and wonder why no-one buys it. By the time you reach the end of this post, you’ll see why this doesn’t work. So. I want you to make a deal with me right now: When you see that this process, outlined below is the key, I want you to get to work. Just follow the process and you will make sales. Deal? Deal!
Now, to explain this process, I’m going to talk through the model below. When coaching my clients I always say: Start at the end and move backwards. You need to know what you’re selling and to whom before you can begin the work of effectively marketing and making sales of your online course / programme. So step 6 is really the first step you take.
Step 6: Nailing your offer to increase sales online
The absolute FIRST thing you must do to make sales online is nail your offer in detail. By this I mean, answering the following questions:
(1) What is it specifically?
Think of a tin of beans. Can you explain a label front or post-it note what your offer is? For example, I run a programme called Expansion Business School. This is my tin of beans label / my post it note description: EBS is a 12 month online training & mentoring programme for purpose driven entrepreneurs who want to make money online and scale up to £10k a month.
(2) What’s included?
Don’t make people guess what they get. Spell it out! If you go into a travel agents and ask for a holiday, you want to know: What star rating is the hotel, how far is it from the beach, is there a daycare, are transfers included, are meals included on my flight… You need the information to buy. So list out what people get when they join.
(3) What outcome will people get if they follow your steps / process / advice?
Be very clear here – when someone gives you their money and invests in your ‘thing’, what promise are you making to them? Don’t talk about what’s included here, talk about the transformation they will experience at the end. For example, when you join EBS, you will walk away with a working funnel that generates leads and sales, you will walk away with a much stronger brand and stronger connections to your community, you will feel confident as a thought leader in your niche, you will have a strategy in place for hitting £10k a month and it’s very likely you will have made entrepreneurial friends for life.
(4) What contact / support do people get?
Again, be clear. Outline what they get / don’t get. This is where you have the chance to offer something truly unique and special, especially in times like this. People want intimacy, connection, advice. They want feedback on their work and the confidence their plan will work for them. I’d take the chance to go above and beyond here and consider email support, or a Facebook group to answer people’s questions.
In Expansion, I go live twice a week; once to train live and once to answer member’s questions. The calls are always full and always run over. And people LOVE the value! I’d say those calls are even more important than the training itself! Because this is special, effective and unique, I make sure to talk about this in my promo content.
(5) How much is it and how can people pay?
Be very clear and up front about your price. I’m not a fan of hiding the price or making people apply to find out the price. Just be honest and upfront. Price according to the value you offer and make it clear. People rarely take things to the till to enquire about the price, they want to see the price label loud and clear so they can genuinely consider if it’s right for them.
With your pricing, don’t be afraid to offer extended payment plans. For my online courses, I let people pay in full or spread the payments over 12 months. Clients sometimes ask me “Aren’t you worried people will get the value and won’t pay?” and I say no. For one, I’ve made way more sales because of my payment plans and I add so much value and am so present I think people would feel far too guilty to stump me like that!
You should also think about the guarantee you want to offer? Maybe it’s a 7 day or 30 day money back guarantee. This will help the client to invest confidently, knowing that if, for any reason, they made a mistake, they can ask for a refund. If there is a ‘no refund’ policy then be very clear up front so people know what they’re committing to.
To be honest, I am really not a fan of ‘no refund’ policies for higher ticket online courses and coaching programmes. If you’re clear about the offer, you’re up front and follow this process, your refund rate should be very low! In over 300 online course sales I’ve only ever had two refund requests – one because went into hospital and one because someone missed the start of a course and didn’t want to start after everyone else.
(6) Who is going to buy it
This could perhaps be one of the most important questions of all! Instead of thinking about your wider community, I want you to ask: Who is going to put their hand in your pocket and pay you for this offer.
I’ve had clients say to me in the past “The problem is Lisa – my ideal client can’t afford my fees!”. My reply – “Then they are most certainly not your ideal client!”.
The truth is, people want to pay a fair price for your offer. When an offer is too cheap, people don’t feel certain the results will follow, or that you’re quite qualified to do the work. And you will find that some people genuinely sit back and watch you for months and sometimes years before committing to buy from you. By telling them the price and being clear on the value up front, they can work towards being able to invest.
But this isn’t the point of this question. The point is that you must know in detail who is going to buy from you so you can create content that speaks directly to those people.
Now think about it. Say you want to make £10,000 in online sales in the next 30 days. You only need a certain number of clients to do that. Is it 10? 20? 100? Be clear. You’re not trying to sell to everyone! You’re trying to sell to 10, 20 or 100 people. When you know, you can again niche in and deliver something that small group of people want or need!
So get into the head of your future clients. How are they feeling right now? What do they need? What do they want? What do they need that they can’t even articulate yet? Your offer must speak to that.
To give you an example, I help good-hearted, purpose driven entrepreneurs to make sales online and build online marketing funnels that scale to £10k+ per month. When I think about these people, these are the challenges / obstacles I know they face…
- My family roll their eyes at me when I talk about my business. They think it’s a nice little hobby and that hurts and feels embarrassing.
- I see everyone making videos and podcasts and I don’t even have a web site. How am I going to compete? I wish I could understand the tech side but I fear it’s too late.
- I keep worrying that other people are looking at me thinking saying “Who does she think she is?”.
- I need to make money now! If I don’t, I’m not going to be able to pay my bills. I just don’t know if I can make enough in my business…should I get a job?
There’s more but, knowing that, I can craft an offer that really helps my clients. Can you see they don’t just need tech support? They need emotional support. Can you see they just need personal belief? They need proof it has worked for other people JUST like them?
And knowing this, I can write content in my marketing that speaks directly to the people who might buy from me. A blog title becomes “How to sell online when your family are rolling their eyes calling it ‘your little hobby’? Or “How to make your first sale online without a web site…this trick works when you’re purpose driven and good hearted”. By speaking directly to their situation, I get their attention, I show I understand and more than that…I get the chance to help because they click / read / sign up etc.
So before you move on, make sure you know: What is your offer and who SPECIFICALLY is going to buy it. Check your offer solves THAT person’s need or no-one is going to buy it. Often people’s offers are too vague, or too wide. People feel afraid that they’ll miss out on sales if they go too specific but here’s the thing: People need to know you are the PERFECT solution to their problem for their unique situation. If you’re not clear, someone who is more clear will win the customer. And you won’t have the chance to help.
Step 5 – Ensuring it’s buyable now will kickstart online sales
Once you’ve nailed your offer, you want to make sure people can buy it. I know this sounds obvious but let me ask you: If I wanted to buy ‘your thing’ could you take payment and let me begin right now? If yes, skip this section and move on. If no, take action on this immediately.
Not having a way to collect payment the second a client wants to buy is like having a shop full of goodies but no till to collect the payment.
One of the main ways to ‘make it buyable’ is to have a sales page where you can send potential clients. On the page, you’d include all the information about your offer – what is it, who it is for, what will they get, what are the payment terms, what do other people have to say about the offer…You might have heard this called a sales page or a landing page.
BUT…here’s the thing…it doesn’t need to be a big fancy landing page. The truth is, a lot of your clients will already have made the decision to work with you before they hit your sales page. They’re going there for the link to buy. You’ll have done the ‘sales work’ in your funnel, as I explain in the following step. So don’t get too hung up on this.
You can build your landing page on Teachable (an online courses platform) or on your web site if you have one. Or, you could pay a monthly fee to build and host your landing page on ClickFunnels or LeadPages.
As an alternative, to get moving quickly, you could even detail your offer in a Word document and upload it to Google Docs and send people the link to read it. Or, you could detail the offer on social media or on a sales call with a customer and then send them a link to a PayPal button when the person is ready to buy.
Ideally, you’d have a page outlining most of the details from step 6, but as long as your offer is clear and you have a way to collect money, you’re golden!
Step 4 – Creating a freebie is key to more sales online
The best way to sell your online course, membership, coaching programme or offer is to offer a freebie up front; this is a mini sample people can ‘try before they buy’. When you taste the sample wine, cheese or dip in the supermarket, you’re much more like to change brands and buy a packet of the sample you tried. When you want to buy a car, you’re much more likely to buy once you’ve had a test drive. When you want to buy something like Disney+ or Netflix, you’re much more likely to sign up once you’ve had a 7-day free trial.
The truth, we don’t like to take risks and we’re more skeptical than we are trusting when it comes to making purchases online. Don’t ask the client to take the risk: If you take the risk up front, you’ll likely make more sales.
Some notes on your freebie:
A freebie is a mini version of the big thing you offer. It is also known as a lead magnet, demo or trial period. In exchange for the freebie, you ask for something in return. Most often this is an email address.
I’ve offered all kinds of freebies in the past. I’ve run webinars, provided mini online courses and written long copy PDF documents. All three have resulted in sales. O have found, though, that it’s best to design a freebie in the style of your main offer. If you’re selling a high ticket coaching programme, the freebie would be a short ‘discovery call’ with you. If you’re selling an online course, you might build a mini 3-part video course covering key themes. If you’re selling a membership, maybe you’ll offer a free trial or 7 day challenge.
You can’t really give away too much in your freebie because it’s not really the information people want; it’s the transformation they’re seeking. This means that they will need the support you offer in your paid programme to get real results. That might be a Facebook group of likeminded people who offer support. It might be the weekly calls that are included in your offer. It might be your templates or demos included in the paid offer.
Remember, I teach good people how to make sales online. I’m telling you a lot of what I tell them now! But this information isn’t the true value of my programme. The true value of my programme is that it’s a course, broken into short steps so people can follow the process piece by piece. It’s that I go live twice a week to train, motivate and answer questions when the come up. It’s the workbook they complete. It’s the incredibly active community of support they get. It’s the fact I share my email templates, sales copy and pages for people to adapt.
The value is in the support, not just the information because people aren’t really looking for information: They’re looking for support, accountability, challenge, process, community.
Step 3 – Create an automated email sequence to make online sales while you sleep:
In order to build a scalable online business and make sales online, you want to make sure your system is fast, responsive and scalable. When someone signs up for your freebie, you want to deliver it to them immediately. Maybe they sign up and are redirected to the first video or the PDF download. Or maybe they sign up and you send them an email with confirmation of when the webinar is available.
The truth is that one email will not do the trick. People need to see your offer and your brand 7-10 times MINIMUM before getting in a position to buy. For this reason, you want to set up an automated email sequence on a platform like Mailchimp or ConvertKit so you can send them a string of emails.
The first 3-5 emails will be about adding value: E.g. Thanks for signing up! As promised, here’s the link to the 8000 word document on what to do next / 3 part kickstart series / 7 stages to six figures webinar.
Following the first ‘hey, here’s your freebie’ email, you will send emails saying things like ‘Hey did you get a chance to watch the video? If not, here’s the link again. Watch out for what I say at 5mins 20 about your offer. It’s a game changer”. I’ve had a few people asking me about this point I made in the freebie, let me clarity in this post. Give people multiple opportunities to click the link and watch the freebie. And add as much value as you can. Show people who you are, what you know and what your style is.
The next 5-10 emails will be about your paid offer. Towards the end of your freebie, you will start to position your paid offer, saying things like “Hey if you enjoyed this, I run a whole 12 month programme taking you through this step by step. Click the link find out more and sign up”. There is a really clear change in tone here from ‘Check out this free video’ to ‘Click here to buy’. You want to make it crystal clear you have something to sell.
Emails in the sales part of the automation will include things like: What the offer is, when it opens / closes, who it’s for, why they should join, early bird discounts and bonuses, testimonials.
I’m sure you’ve bought something online in the past. Ask yourself: What did you need to know, believe and trust in order to buy? What got you over the line? And then apply these same questions to your customers: What do they need to know, believe and trust about you in order to buy? What will they need to get over the line and commit?
Step 2 – Drive relevant traffic into your online sales funnel
Once you have a working funnel i.e. You have a freebie which people can sign up to receive via email , you have an automated email sequence and you have a sales page of sorts to send people to buy from you, it’s time to start driving in traffic. Traffic means people who opt into your funnel. Of course, this is a whole section and workshop in itself but let me give you a major pointer…
There are two steps to getting traffic into your funnel. And by traffic, I don’t mean ‘anyone’. Friends, your aunty and an old colleagues isn’t who I’m talking about. I’m talking about prospective clients who might go on to buy from you. I’m talking about ‘leads’.
(1) Remember who your clients are
You did this work in step 6 above. When you remember who they are you can ask: Where are they hanging out? When you know this, you can get creative and think about how you might get your offer in front of that community. Here are some ideas:
- Use Facebook / Instagram ads to put your content in front of those people. I often use ads to show my freebie content to prospective clients who follow other people similar to me.
- Drum up support from fellow entrepreneurial friends. Maybe you could go on their podcast, add lots of value and mention your new freebie. And maybe you can return the favour by featuring them in your mailer in a few months.
- Write AMAZING content on your blog and social media feeds that it really useful, and include links to your freebie throughout the blog / social post (like I’ve done with this long copy post).
- Use hashtags on Instagram to help you get found.
- If your offer is something people Google often, learn about setting up ads on Google or get good at search engine optimisation so your content can be found.
- If it’s something people seek out via YouTube, learn how to rank your videos there or pay for traffic.
If you’ve been building your community for a while, you can of course post details about your freebie onto your social media pages and mailing list. But, there comes a moment very quickly when we must venture wider and learn how to get in front of new people. You might need to learn some new skills to make that happen but it’s all part of building an online business and making sales online.
(2) Use stories that speak directly to your customer
Rather than posting something that says “Hey, check it out – brand new three part video series teaching you how to X, Y and Z”, write a story that interests your client and shows them you were once in the same boat.
Remembering who my clients are, I might write something like “I remember doing my first launch and making 6 sales online. I was thrilled I’d made sales but to be honest, I wasn’t covering my costs or making enough to pay my bills. And, my family laughed at me…Something had to change…and fast…”.
I’d then go on to explain what had changed and how I implemented the change to get massive results. At the end of the post I could say “If you’d like to find out more / follow this process step by step then click the link below and hop on my live webinar tonight at 6pm and I’ll talk you through it step by step.”
This definitely takes practice and to be honest you can learn in a few ways: (1) Trial and error – post and see what works, (2) Model others – see what social posts draw you in and temp you sign up, (3) Join courses of people who are experts in it and learn from them.
Step 1 – Build your brand to convert more sales online
The final stage in the funnel for making sales online is to think about your wider brand and identity online. You could build out a funnel using the proceeding steps alone and sell! Plenty of my mentors do it and I’ve bought from others who do it. But, if you want to supercharge your online sales and increase your online conversion rates, it really helps to develop your brand around your funnel.
What I mean by that is (1) Showing up online, generously – sharing content that is inspiring, helpful and entertaining and (2) Posting content that shows you’re living the lifestyle your future clients want / you have results they want.
There are two ways to approach this. Honestly? I would do both.
(1) Develop a content marketing posting schedule
Commit to sharing content that is either inspiring, entertaining or informative at regular intervals. Maybe you’ll share motivational quotes on Instagram, or release a new YouTube video every week. Maybe you’ll start a blog or launch a Podcast. Pick a medium you love and commit to a posting schedule. Keep your customer in mind as you plan your content. Make sure it’s content around things your clients want to know about.
(2) Use social media ads to put brand building content in front of interested people
Did you know that you can use ads on social media to show clips to people who have been on your web site, watched a certain video or download your freebie? It’s called retargeting and it’s very powerful.
Think about the last time looked at trainers or a car or something online. Did you notice the ads followed you around the internet? That’s because the product owner set up ads to show to anyone who visited a certain page, or interacted with a particular piece of content. It’s not that hard to set up but there is a specific process to follow.
When I run online course launches, I use retargeting ads to both educate potential clients on my offer, to build trust by showing who I am and to simply stay in front of people to help them consider my offer. I might include a short clip of me sharing stories on stage. I might share a post about the book I wrote. I might share clips of me teaching online. You might have seen those videos from me? Or maybe you will in the future. I do it to say ‘this is who I am, what I know and the level I’m at’ and it really helps people to invest in my programmes with more confidence.
Step 0 – Take action today
This process works. It has worked for years and it continues to work now. I urge you not to get distracted and not to post content for the sake of it. Follow this plan. Start with the end in mind and just take action! Yes it’s a messy process, yes it takes time and yes you will find it hard and want to give up at times. But, the people who focus their time on building funnels that work are the people most able to build scalable six figure businesses, making sales online!
Don’t delay, get to work today!
P.s. I’ve mentioned Expansion Business School throughout this post. If you’d like help implementing this process start to finish, if you’d like my feedback on your work each week and if you’re looking to join a community of likeminded entrepreneurs doing this work, I invite you to explore Expansion Business School and see if it’s the right fit for you.