Stellar Start-Ups: Personalized online sales help - for those without a shekel to spare

Two Tribes takes a holistic business view of the Web as a way to drive sales.

Two tribes 88 248 (photo credit: )
Two tribes 88 248
(photo credit: )
Setting up a Web site for your business is all well and good, but where do you go from there? According to Josh Guedalia of Two Tribes (, many businesses go absolutely nowhere - wasting what could be one of their most lucrative sales engines. "Many businesses set up a shopping cart on their sites and leave it at that," he says. "But without the right positioning, messaging and customer service, many businesses find that they sell far less on their Web sites than they anticipated. We can help businesses increase their online sales by building a personalized plan, based on a process we have developed that we have found to be highly effective." It's a lack of properly managing the sales cycle that kills most online sales efforts, but with the services offered by Two Tribes, this is the last thing Guedalia's clients have to worry about. There are many Web site sales-development outfits out there, but Two Tribes brings some unique skills - and unique benefits - to the client's table. Most importantly, rather than only looking to increase traffic to the site, Two Tribes takes a holistic business view of the Web as a way to drive sales. When working with a client, Two Tribes will first review the landscape: checking out what their customers are looking for when they surf to a client's site and whether the site meets those needs. Guedalia then surveys his clients' technical and business infrastructure to examine whether they are capable of handling Web sales (many business sites aren't, he says) and reviews the methods they use to attract customers, to make sure they are aiming for the right ones for their product. Making sure the product messaging focuses on what people actually need and want rather than what the product does, is a major issue for many businesses selling over the Web, Guedalia says. "We recently worked with a company whose site was attracting a large amount of traffic but wasn't getting sales," he says. "After a review of their content and messaging, we discovered that when people got to the site they got a lot of information about the many features of the product without seeing how it specifically helped them." Guedalia helped the company reposition its message into customer-specific solutions, as well as giving the customer the support and education required during the sales cycle. This resulted in a significant increase in sales, he says. Guedalia sees online sales efforts as sort of a "funnel": you try to nab as many relevant customers as possible to a business site, then use the various marketing and sales tools at your disposal to convert them into sales. It's in this area that Two Tribes excels, he says: "We attract the customers to a site, then educate them as to the benefits of the product or service the site is selling, and work closely with them, both on- and off-line to convert them to paying customers." All the while, Guedalia and his staff are working with the client, honing the message and the methods, setting up what is essentially a customized sales program for each of their clients. So far, so good - but it's what comes next that is truly innovative. While building this customized online sales program for clients, Guedalia does not collect any fees upfront - or even at the end of the process. "Our service is performance-based," he says. "We don't start making money until our client makes sales. We want results as much as our clients do, and we find this method of working is a win-win situation for everyone involved." It would be a gutsy move even during "normal" times; how much braver, and more difficult, must it be to do business this way during the ongoing recession, when the small and midsize businesses Two Tribes seeks to work with are having trouble even keeping their doors open, because customers are too scared - or broke - to buy. But recession or not, Guedalia's magic has been having an effect. "We applied our methodology to a well-known software company that had a good off-line sales history but had never managed to succeed at online sales, despite having a Web site and an online sales infrastructure," he says. "After working with them, we were able to help them increase their online sales by 300 percent over a six-month period." And that during a recession! Guedalia hopes to repeat the same success with Two Tribes's newest client, Business Financial Planner. That Guedalia doesn't charge up front means that there are probably many businesses that would want to use his services; but, of course, Two Tribes can't work with all comers, due to its own limited resources. As such, Guedalia can be picky about the company he keeps - and the companies he works with. "Our ideal client is one who appreciates the need for change and is open to new ideas and innovations," he says. "By helping a client look at their company's online sales efforts using our methods, we're able to give clients a bird's-eye view on their business, their competition and the field they're working with in general. By leveraging that information to the client's advantage, we can hopefully help them increase sales by a large percentage." Guedalia has had a long history at Internet startups, so he has a pretty good idea of how Internet sales works. "Along the way I garnered some ideas about sales and marketing, especially how to effectively sell on the Web," he says. "It's been my dream for several years to be able to implement these ideas into actions, and now I'm able to do that with Two Tribes" - to the benefit of all his clients.