An unemployed housewife gets pumped up after joining an entrepreneurship course. She is sharing her first win with a friend.
-Yey! I’ve got my first business website! I’ve got to treat myself to ice cream!
– How are you going to integrate this template with the e-commerce solution that would serve you?
– Oh, I don’t know! I’ll see you later about these small details!
– How are you going to advertise to your prospects?
– If you build it, they will come!
– That’s what the famous Jane Doe from Crippleware Inc. told herself too before starting her multimillion dollars company!
– My point exactly!
We live in a society where a current message seems to be: ”you are not good enough”, ”you must strive harder, be better”. Thus, self-confidence can be hard to attain and hold.
(keep reading ↓)
Sometimes, self-confidence can be justified through the superior quality of the products, services, or ideas that we offer. At the same time, too much self-confidence, even justified, can be a dangerous trap. I wonder if you’re curious to find out which are such dangerous limiting beliefs. How would some marketers and freelancing salespeople believe what could self-sabotage them in the business processes? These may apply both for people who tend to be more entrepreneurial and for those who tend to be employed. I’ll list them, then go into each.
I made so much effort until now and I haven’t got enough sales. What I do doesn’t work. Fuck this! I’ll go skiing…
I naturally expect those who benefit from my products/services/ideas to appreciate me directly and recommend me further.
It’s sufficient to post the prices on my website. Who wants to buy, will buy. I don’t want to be bothered unnecessarily.
I want the customers to come to ME, not me to go to them.
Even if this prospect doesn’t ask for a solution, I must solve this problem with my offer!
Now, let’s go into each of them!
1. I made so much effort until now and I haven’t got enough sales. What I do doesn’t work. Fuck this! I’ll go skiing…
It is generally a good idea that if something doesn’t work, to change it. Still, it’s not a good idea to change it without understanding WHY it doesn’t work. When each big crisis comes, the business people that made a lot of money without knowing why suddenly have a bigger, newer problem: they are losing money and they don’t know why.
Therefore, just because something doesn’t work right now, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to be doing. Maybe what you’re doing is just a part of what needs to be done. Maybe you need to add some elements. Replacing altogether what you’re doing without knowing what you need to do risks making your efforts a blinking dot in an ocean of change. Maybe what you’re doing is not supposed to work YET. Maybe if you wait a little bit you’ll get significant results. Maybe you’re not doing it enough. The key is to measure. In marketing and sales, we’re not dealing with abstracts like in public relations or diplomacy. Please also read my article on Analytic Vision about Why Public Relations Are Not Marketing. More metrics can and must be measured. These will point you in the right direction if you know how to read them. You weren’t expecting an excuse to bail out, right?
2. I naturally expect those who benefit from my products/services/ideas to appreciate me directly and recommend me further.
How many times does it happen that receiving a product or a service totally blows your mind and changes your life dramatically? Not so often, huh? Therefore, you might understand that in a competitive environment, you cannot hope your clients would have their expectations surpassed. The hard reality is that most of those who buy what you promote/sell may never use the product. Maybe even if they are satisfied with it, they either don’t know how to appreciate it or consider they are entitled to it.
Sometimes, everything you need to do is ask for recommendations. You might find out that you will receive them! To do that and to increase the satisfaction of each buying customer, it is important to keep in touch with each of them. If you don’t, the expectation to be recommended is less likely to happen.
The same principle works with products offered free for reviewing purposes. The idea that the inner value of a certain product should generate appreciation is an unrealistic statement. This hallucination presupposes a certain level of interest and competence within the receiver that might not exist. Therefore, everything you give away for free must be sold even harder than what you sell for money. Why? Because free or cheap is easy to get misrepresented as value-lacking for most.
3. It’s sufficient to post the prices on the website. Who wants to buy, will buy. I don’t want to be bothered unnecessarily.
Besides the different ways you can display or advertise a price on a website, I consider it is useful to make a breakdown and explain such correlations as:
- How much impact this payment will have on the long-term? What can be expected in terms of ROI (Return On Investment)?
- What are the components which enter into the production/delivery of this product/service? What costs are being involved?
- How much is the buyer paying for every day, minute, second of using your service? It might be more easily acceptable to break down the price for a longer period.
- Make a comparison to how much a similar product costs at the competition.
- Make a comparison to how much it costs to keep the problem that your product is fixing.
- What is the unique feature which only you can offer at this price that can’t be found anywhere else?
- What guarantees (if any) are you offering?
Therefore, when someone who might be interested is calling you, you get the chance to make a sale. Definitely, you do not want to misrepresent the value of a certain product and be bothered unnecessarily, but you don’t want to scare away potential prospects who don’t understand why it costs so much either.
There are also those clients for which you might want to make a special discount. Maybe you like them and you want to work with them because they don’t give you such a hard time. Maybe they are serial buyers. Maybe they can recommend you more potent buyers. Maybe they don’t afford your product but they really want it. Maybe they are willing to make things work and negotiate. Maybe you can do a barter. Who knows? Don’t discourage potential buyers with a simply stated price without any explanations.
4. I want the customers to come to ME, not me to go to them.
Yes, this is what marketing is about. Still, you’re not satisfied with how many customers choose to come to you? Then, it would be a good idea to keep in mind: “If the mountain doesn’t come to Mohamed, then Mohamed can go to the mountain”.
There is sometimes the perception of competition for superiority: who needs whom? Who is more important? While certainly sometimes one aspect is enhanced over others, we must admit that each of us is found in either perspective at one moment in time. This is not a bad thing and it’s certainly not a big deal – or at least it shouldn’t be.
The psychological perspective is that if the customer comes to the supplier, then the supplier is more important, significant, and has the upper hand. On the other hand, if the supplier goes after the client, the supplier needs the client.
The ECONOMIC perspective is a little bit different: 1. if the demand exceeds the available offer, then the supplier has a slight advantage over the competition (not over the consumer) and can negotiate with the customer for a better price. 2. If the offer exceeds the demand, then the customer pressure might favor the competition. Therefore, with competition being present in the market, the client can’t lose. The competition is not between the buyer and the supplier, but always between suppliers. Keep this in mind before playing mind games with the prospects: nobody is entitled to feel superior. Even if by sales numbers, one has an advantage, (s)he must work hard to keep the advantage.
When the negotiation between the customer and the supplier becomes a zero-sum game, it means that both can’t win at the same time. In reality, they can both win. The zero-sum game is a psychological game, not an economic one.
So to sum things up, sales business is not a competition of significance of who has the upper hand between the customer and the supplier, unless you choose to make it so, in which case somebody loses. You cannot make a long-term business out of winning all the time while your customers are losing unless you have a monopoly, which is an aberration on a capitalistic free market. Do you want to know the only case in which it may be reasonable to have a monopoly? My opinion is: when you invented the product or service and there’s no direct competition (yet).
5. Even if this prospect doesn’t ask for a solution, I must solve this problem with my offer!
Rejection management is not so much a sales thing, but more of a psychotherapy issue. Similarly, wanting to “save” the perceived victim in the customer does not belong to sales.
In certain contexts, some people are very oriented towards goals, look for solutions, make the call and make a huge order. Still, most don’t.
Those who don’t look for solutions have problems.
Most often, they aren’t aware of it.
If they get insights into the problem, they might not be aware there might be a solution.
If they are aware there might be a solution, they might not be able to realize which solution is appropriate.
If they can somehow figure out not only that there is a problem and there is a solution and what that solution might look like, they might have a hard time getting convinced that your solution is THEIR solution.
What do you do for all of those who don’t reach you when they have a problem (and that is most of them)? I’d say it’s a good idea to:
- Describe their particular problem in detail so that they become aware that they have it. Hope they are willing to recognize it within the realm of their personal experience.
- Explain how big their problem really is. List in detail how much money, time, or other resources they are losing by keeping this problem.
- Explain why it is important to think of their problem as a solvable problem.
- Explain how a solution might work.
- Explain what are the characteristics of a good solution.
- Explain why your solution is better than other solutions.
- Explain why your solution is the one they must and want to choose.
- Ask them to choose your solution now.
How does that make you feel about all these steps to take to go through the process of marketing a solution. When, on the other hand, you have a sales conversation with a prospect, it is important that you:
- Invite the prospect to describe the issue.
- Influence the prospect to get the awareness of how this issue is a problem – what generates pain?
- Push the pain button: how many resources get lost in the long term through this problem?
- Find out: how should a solution present itself for the pain of the prospect?
- Elicit the criteria for buying the solution.
- Tweak the presentation of the solution as an answer to the specific problem, following the specific criteria of the prospect.
- Close the sale using everything above.
Jesus Christ spoke for those who chose to follow Him. He offered Salvation for a problem they already recognized and wanted to solve. Then came St. Paul, who did a lot of marketing and public relations for those who didn’t know much. Remember, in sales, you are not your prospects’ savior. Act like a professional and do sales! Save your share of contribution and good deeds for NGOs and Churchwork. You might even increase the sales stating that, for example, 10% goes to a certain cause. Marketing is in many cases harder work than firefighting.
So, there you have it. if you’ve liked this article, please follow the next one after two weeks. It will get addressed especially to sales professionals. Marketing specialists might be interested, too!
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Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2017-present. The Series started in 2017 and was updated for publishing in 2020. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.
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