One of the most important skills every entrepreneur must have is being able to sell his or her product. If you can't sell what you've built, then it isn't worth anything. And it doesn't really matter whether it's a product or a service, whether you're selling online or offline, and whether you're selling to consumers, small businesses or huge enterprises. In all instances, you need to convince someone to take money out of their pocket and choose YOUR solution.
So the big questions is: what does it take to sell a product? Apparently, the answer is much simpler than most entrepreneurs think. In this post, I'll describe the basic prerequisites for selling a product - any product. In my next posts I'll get into more details and techniques, as well as share with you a few great resources to help you improve your selling skills. [You can get the next post directly to your inbox by joining the Founders' Guidebook mailing list.]
So here are the basic 6 prerequisites for selling any product or service:
1. Making people know about your product
Your product can solve a huge pain point that people are willing to pay good money for, but if no-one knows about your solution, no-one will buy it. I won't get here into the details of generating awareness to your product and creating a pipeline of prospects. I've already covered some aspects of this subject in my series of post on distribution channels and in my post on viral products, and I'll continue covering this subject on future posts which I'll label under 'Marketing'.
2. Understanding customers' needs or desires
Understanding customers' needs or desires is understanding why they might want to buy your product and what you should communicate during the selling process. The best way to learn about your customers' needs is by speaking with them and asking them open questions (in contrast to yes-no questions).
Now usually you don't get to the REAL 'why' immediately. So the best way to know that you got to the real why, is when the answer is based on emotions rather than on logic. For example, if you're trying to sell a new smartphone, then don't settle for an answer like "I need more computing power" or "I want a faster phone". The real answer would usually be something like "I love having the most updated gadget" or "I can't keep on hanging out with such an old phone".
3. Having prospects that can afford paying for your product
If you're product is priced too high for your target market, then it doesn't really matter how big is the pain point, how good your solution is, or whether people want to buy it. If prospects can't afford your product, then your chances of selling it are extremely low. This is especially true when trying to sell to businesses, since decision making is businesses are much less emotional than in personal life. More about selling to enterprises in this post.
4. Having a product that can be used with no effort
This point is a bit less intuitive. There are many scenarios where the market needs your product, but if using it creates too much friction, prospects will prefer using other workarounds or just keep on living with the problem. In other words, people don't buy products they don't think they'll use.
This is many times the case with software products. The main reason one would want to use a software is to make his life easier (e.g. using a software for managing your tasks). However, if the software is too complicated or the learning curve is too long, then most people will prefer remaining with their old habits (e.g. use a hand-written tasks list).
5. Making prospects want your product
There's a great saying that a mediocre product with great marketing will sell better than a great product with mediocre marketing. Great marketing doesn't only mean making people know about your product. It mostly means being able to clearly and concisely explain it's value to the customer. People only want products that they believe are valuable for them. Now value isn't necessarily something tangible. In fact, it's usually more about answering an emotional need rather than a physical one.
6. Prospects feel that the benefits of the product are worth the price
This rule is extremely simple. People buy if, and only if, they believe that the product is worth more than it's price. And they only way a customer can believe that a product is worth more than it's price, is when he's fully convinced that the product is valuable for him. This is why it's so important to be able to clearly and concisely explain the value of the product to the customer.
To conclude, before developing your product, make sure you know exactly how you're going to address each of these prerequisites. Doing so will also help you understand what exactly you need to build in order to reach product-market fit.
Labels: B2B, Sales