So you know all about programming and can write CSS, Java and flash like I am writing to you now.  You just made your first appointment with your first customer.   What happens when you make your million dollar sales pitch and the customer says, “So.?”  He is not convinced and tells you he does not want to spend the money on the internet because he does not get any business from it.  Marketing to the small businessman has been made harder because of the many poorly engineered and developed websites have made customers skeptical of power it can have for their business.

My wife was skeptical of the internet when we opened our Bakery/Restaurant.  I have since developed the website and contacts over time.  Yelp, Facebook and Google Places have been excellent links.  My wife keeps track of the leads and we have regular traffic at our restaurant that was generated entirely from the internet.

I worked at a Toyota Dealership.  While there, I spent time in call centers making cold calls to people and trying to convince them to buy a new car.  The problem was most people did not see anything wrong with their 3 year old Toyota and have a hard time considering another new car.  Talk with your customer and find out about their habits and needs. Take time to build some trust with them before you waste time on the sales pitch.  My sales manager put it like this: “You are dealing with a customer that believes he has already made up his mind, because he looked it up on the internet.”  You have to know your product and your customers or you will not get past the objection.

The first objection you will face at most family owned businesses is found in a common misconception.  The objection will be similar to: “I don’t need any help, my uncle knows about computers and he set up my website.  So, I have my web page and I have a Facebook page so I’m set for my internet advertising.” I have had this conversation with few business owners this week.  Sounds familiar to some of you I’m sure.  You have two choices at this time.  Address the objection or say: “I understand you, I will explain more about personal web publishing in just a couple minutes.”  If you have not established yourself with your customer, I would choose the second option.  Continue you presentation, take note of the objections and address them at the end of your presentation.

An important aspect for internet marketing field is we have the advantage of inbound marketing.  People search for well written content to read, these people represent our opportunity to create a customer.  Direct marketing is the traditional method of marketing and people are becoming conditioned to avoid these advertisements.  More easily put, I rarely watch unrecorded television because I can fast forward through the commercials when I use my DVR.  I have a box next to my desk that has the sole purpose of collecting junk mail.  If I don’t recognize the item as a solicited piece of mail, it gets summarily dropped in the box.  After I have about 350-400 lbs. of this junk, I take it to the local shredder.  One of my friends is a machinist, he cut a few thousand letter sized pieces of steel which he puts in all the return envelopes and mails back to the sender just to cost them the postage.

You need to show them why they need help to make their advertising program work, while not making them look stupid.  What are you going to do that is special for their business?  Do your homework before you show up, that way you know where to look when you assess their business.  As a business man, I will not hire a business if they cannot tell me how they will improve my business. Your job is to show them.

Here is one business site I looked at recently with the business owner. I found that the site had not been updated in months.  There were several, links broken to external websites.  The business owner also had no analytics for his page, leaving him without any means of tracking its use.  His business shows up on page 1, 1 time on line 5.  This one is easy to show what you can do to help.  The business owner did not realize his website was not producing like it should for him. He also has no Facebook, blogs or Twitter.

Finally you need to maintain what you build, train your customer and treat your internet customers like they were in your store.  Greet them and engage them in meaningful contact.  My wife is very good at engaging customers on Facebook and the customers tell me about it.  This is an excellent way to bring customers back in to your business.  I know talking about fresh biscuits and gravy or homemade chicken & dumpling soup is as good as ringing a dinner bell at a ranch.

As you develop your technical skills take time to become a motivational talker and learn about your customers.  People skills are every bit as important as your programming when you are talking to business owners.