When life hands you lemons, the old saying goes, the best thing to do is make lemonade. Hopefully most of the products sales reps are asked to pitch 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. That’s really something that can only be addressed at the manufacturing or service and support stages though. In most cases, sales teams are presented with a different challenge. They were given products and services to sell that are boring but necessary. Sometimes they are called “grudge purchases” because customers only invest in them when they feel they have no other choice.
No matter how you look at it, these are difficult things to sell by 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.
Don’t despair if you’re trying to win deals based on something no one would ever call “cool.” Try these approaches instead:
You might have plenty of collateral about the product or service already, but even detailed brochures and similar material might not be enough to inspire customer interest. That’s okay, because traditional marketing may not be the best way to pitch in this case.
Content marketers have realized that what often works better, even with less difficult products and services, is to focus more on the stories taking place within their customer’s lives. These can drive much higher engagement than ones that merely go over the features and functionality of what they’re marketing or selling.
Does your product or service save people time? Focus your pitch on the higher-value tasks or goals investing in it could help your customers accomplish. Does it make them somehow safer or more secure? Tell a story about how being eased of safety and security concerns can improve their ability to focus, and to make better decisions in other areas of their work and life. 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 know 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 inherently desirable or compelling than what you have to see, see if there is a way to make it obvious that it somehow complements the more difficult product or service.
You don't have to create an actual bundle or suggest the two offerings do similar things. It’s about aligning the value they both offer. Maybe the difficult product will provide benefits that will make it easier to afford to buy the “cool” one, for instance. Or maybe by investing in the difficult product first, it will be easier to add the other one in a way that requires less time or effort, given they’ll already be familiar with your company’s wares. This is an area where you might need to “show” as well as “tell,” possibly through videos that show how your products and services inter-relate.
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. Hopefully new customers will want to join their ranks.
If you’re using a CRM like Sales Cloud, 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 they are. Use that to articulate how purchasing it can help them stand out in their organization.
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 personalized and relevant your pitch, the more likely they’ll pay attention.
Most organizations, for example, are trying to do some really significant things in the world that involve a lot of different elements. The product you’re selling might sound boring, but not if you can think of it as a natural evolution from the company’s origin story or reason for being.
This is not only important for your customers to hear. It’s something reps need to think about and believe as well. That way, when you’re making the pitch it will come from a genuine place — and what originally seemed like a difficult product or service to sell starts to become just that little bit easier.