5 warning signs you are missing massive sales opportunities
I had a fascinating conversation with two businessmen today. They were quite cheeky- though maybe that was me too! One was a salesman. He was passionate about the construction products he sold- an impressive range from bicycle stands to car park bollards, yet he admitted sales were tough at the moment. He believed that was just what to expect in this tough economy.
You see, many companies are growing really well year after year – even those in supposedly tough
industries like retail, construction, training, automotive and printing. The print market is usually one of the tightest markets in a down economy yet Apogee is growing at an average of 26%, profitably, year after year. Few supermarkets are doing well yet Sun Mark has averaged 39% profitable growth over the past 3 years. And so it goes on.
The economy may not make it easy- but there are ways to grow well.
5 ways to know if your products/ services are the real problem?
There are 5 ways to know if your product really causing poor sales:
- Sales are not good- while one or more company in your industry is growing well
- New customers are not flocking to you like bees to a honey pot
- Sales people continually need price reductions to win deals
- Margins are tight
- You feel as if business gets harder each year
It is understandable that when business is tough you will think the economy is causing the problem.
Are you sure that with a different approach you could not turn things around …. that you are not missing opportunities to grow? Did you know that recessions actually open up new opportunities for growth?
Are others stealing your lunch?
What is really causing the problem?
Did you answer Yes to some of the questions above? Then, just like the salesman I met, the problem is that, in the eyes of your customer, your product/ service looks like all the other products/ services on offer.
The only perspective that counts here is the customers’.
Why customers are not flocking to you
- The reason(s) you believe make your product better is just not that important to your customer. For instance, the bicycle racks the salesman sold were better value- longer lasting and better quality. Yet, as they only cost £10 a time, many customers are not bothered how long they last.I once worked for a web hosting company. I found the sales team were listing all the technical reasons they were better. Unfortunately the customers did not understand the technical list. Nor did technical superiority match what they really wanted. Is your business doing the same?
- Customers are unaware of that you offer the benefit. The salesman mentioned that a major differentiation was that, when they ordered over a certain amount of business, the client would receive a big discount. Yet the colleague who had been feeding him business had no idea that was the case. How can you ensure your customers are very aware of why the value you provide is so much better?
How to take the brakes off your sales now
Most companies are not looking through the eyes of their customers. It is just too easy to see things through internal, company eyes. This gives your company a great opportunity to leave your competitors standing.
Whether you are a CEO, in marketing or a product manager
- to fast track sales spend so much time with your customers that you feel their pain.
You will know you have reached the right point when you empathise so well with your customers that you know what wakes them up in a cold sweat at night. For a wonderful video clip that explains this click here.
Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) is a construction company. Very little construction is happening at the moment. Yet KBR are leaving their competition behind. Why? They understand their customers’ pain. The few customers that will run the risk of commissioning buildings and such like know they need something outstanding if it is to be a commercial success. They fret that they will commit to something that will not fit the bill. KBR have developed such a reputation for delivering exactly what their customers want that they take most of the worry out of it. As a result customers flock to them.
Once you can put yourself in your customers shoes, ask:
“What will make a big difference to them?”
Is it just one thing or several? Don’t despair if initially it seems out of your control. Just sit with it. Maybe discuss it with other customer focused people in the company. (Do share this article if you think it will help).
When you think you have cracked it, ask again:
“In my customer’s eyes, does this add significant value that they cannot get elsewhere?”
You may have to repeat the exercise several times. It may take you quite a while. When you do work it out – your sales AND margins will soar and customers will tell others to buy from you.
Question: Do you know any companies who provide such good value that customers flock to them?