You might think you’ve got an unsellable product on your hands. But maybe you just haven’t discovered its hidden value yet.
When life hands you lemons, the old saying goes, make lemonade.
Most products a sales reps is tasked with moving aren’t quite as challenging as that. But the same principle applies.
A true ‘lemon’, from a product or service perspective, would be something so badly designed it causes customers nothing but problems. And that’s really something that can only be addressed at the manufacturing or service and support stages.
And we’re not saying anyone should try to push these products, or something that really just has no purpose, or we’ll end up with, well, this.
In most cases, sales teams are presented with a different challenge: sell a product or service that’s necessary but boring – ‘grudge purchases’ that customers only invest in when they have no other choice.
These are a difficult sell for even the most talented reps. Depending on what they are, however, such products and services might represent a higher profit margin, or open the door to other potential cross-sell and upsell opportunities once the rep has successfully gotten them through the door.
So don’t despair if you’re trying to move a product or service no one would ever call “cool.” Try these approaches instead:
You might have plenty of collateral about the product or service already – every person who’s struggled to make this product desirable has probably added to the pile – but detailed brochures might not inspire customer interest.
It often works better, even with less difficult products and services, to tell the stories taking place within customer’s lives because of the product or service you’re hoping to provide. No one is inspired by their new tyres; they’re inspired by where they can go.
IMAGE CREDIT: © BENOÎT PRIEUR / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Does your product or service save time? Are there goals people could achieve by investing in it? Or does it make them safer or more secure? Tell a story about what someone else has achieved with their new-found spare time, how someone else has achieved their goals, or how safety and security has helped them do something they want to do – there’s a reason legions of tampon ads show women at the beach.
Do the kinds of buyers you’re targeting have any other common characteristics or aspirations? Talk about some of the most successful role models or peers they might share and show that investing in your product or service was part of their journey. If nothing else, this will show you’re actively listening to your customer community.
If your company offers something more obviously desirable or compelling, find a way to show how the more difficult product or service complements it. You don't have to create an actual sale bundle or suggest the two offerings do similar things. It’s about aligning the value they both offer.
Remember to show as well as tell here – perhaps with videos of your customers who use both products.
If all else fails, use the awareness and popularity of the cool product to reposition your difficult product or service as the ‘best-kept secret’ only your smartest customers know about. The word will spread soon enough.
If you’re using a CRM you’ll know a lot about your customers and prospects that could make pitching a difficult product or service a lot more straightforward.
Dig into the data, for instance, and you might discover there’s an ideal time, from a budget perspective, when a customer might be more willing to invest in a grudge purchase like the one you’re suggesting. Or you might see that within the larger buying team there is a decision-maker — like your contact’s boss — who will be more interested in the product you’re pitching than the person you’ve been talking to is. Use that to articulate how purchasing it can help them stand out in their organisation.
Most of all, use CRM — as well as information culled from social media and other sources — to ensure you’ve done all the homework necessary to deeply understand your customer or prospect’s biggest objectives or pain points. The more personalised and relevant your pitch, the more likely they’ll pay attention.
Most organisations are trying to do significant things that involve a lot of different elements. The product you’re selling might sound boring, but only if you let it. Think of it, instead, as enabling a natural evolution of the company’s origin story or reason for being.
This is not only important for your customers to hear. It’s something the other reps you work with need to think about and believe as well. That way, their pitches will be genuine, which always makes a difficult product or service a bit easier to move.
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