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Affiliate programs & phone sales

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday January 9, 2008 )

If you’re running an affiliate program and also provide a sales phone number on your site – you may be scaring off experienced affiliates from joining your program.

One of the banes of any affiliate’s existence are sales leaks; i.e. where they refer a sale, but don’t scoop up a commission for whatever reason. This can be due to issues such as cookies not setting properly right through to merchants who are just downright unscrupulous.

It’s pretty hard to tell just how much money an affiliate loses through sales leaks on the merchant’s end generally speaking, but I’ve seen figures around stating it can be as high as 20%; which can translate to a stack of cash.

Any seasoned affiliate will be able to recount stories of such situations they’ve personally experienced and this can make them a little gun-shy of joining programs where the company offers a sales number. A sales number becomes a problem where your staff take orders and payments over the phone; therefore there’s no record of the referral and the affiliate doesn’t get paid.

In many scenarios though, a telephone sales person only assists the customer to the point of getting them to and completing your online order form – and in that case, the referral is recorded.

Whichever situation applies to your business, you should make it really clear how your phone sales systems work to put potential affiliates’ minds at rest. Bear in mind, it’s the experienced affiliates you want who are most likely to spot this possible sales leak and they may not even bother contacting you for clarification. Given that in most affiliate programs, it’s just the top few percent of affiliates who make the majority of sales; even missing out on one promoting your business can mean a pile of lost sales.

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1 comment for Affiliate programs & phone sales
  1. Good point, and one I’d never thought of before. We’re looking into starting an affiliate program, so this is a timely bit of advice.

    Comment by Ecommerce Beginner — January 9, 2008 @ 8:55 am

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