5 warning signs you are missing massive sales opportunities

Pot of gold

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, but he admitted sales were still not as good as he would like. 

Yet many companies are growing powerfully year after year – even those in supposedly tough industries like retail, construction, training, automotive and printing. Though the print market is usually a highly competitive market, Apogee is growing at an average of 26%, profitably, year after year.  Few supermarkets are doing well but Sun Mark has averaged 39% profitable growth over the past 3 years. I could give you many more examples.

There are ways your business can grow fast too – whatever your industry is doing.

5 questions: Are your products/ services the real problem?

These 5 questions will pinpoint if your products are the underlying reason that your sales are not better:

  1. One or more companies in your industry are growing faster
  2. New customers are not flocking to you like bees to a honey pot
  3. Sales people continually need price reductions to win deals
  4. Margins are tightening
  5. It all feels like hard work

With a different approach maybe you could turn things around. Are you sure that you are not missing opportunities to grow? What if you could be selling a LOT more?

What is really causing the problem?

Did you answer “Yes” to some of the questions above? Then, just like the salesman I met, the issue is often that, in the eyes of your customer, your products/ services look like all the rest.

The only perspective that counts here is the customers’.

Often, what you think makes your product better is not what your customers want the most. For instance,  the bicycle racks the salesman sells are better value – longer lasting and better quality. Yet, as they only cost £10 a time, many customers are not really bothered how long they last. I once worked for a large IT company. The sales team listed many technical reasons they thought we were better. Unfortunately the customers did not understand the technical list. Nor was it what they really wanted. Could your business be doing the same?

3 steps 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.

Step 1

Whether you are a CEO, in marketing, or a product manager, to fast track sales you need to spend more time with your customers and prospects, until that you understand what worries them the most.

You will have reached the right point when you know what wakes them up in a cold sweat at night. For a wonderful video clip that explains this click here.

Rackspace grew at 24% on average right through the recession and continue to skyrocket. While what they do in essence is very similar to other web hosting businesses, they have proved time after time that, with their “Fanatical support”, they will pull out all the stops to help their customers. For instance, when Help for Heros had a great opportunity to receive a lot of money through the Woolwich their web site just was not designed to cope with the amount of traffic. Rackspace worked all night to ensure they did not miss out. Giff Gaff, an online business, only found out that their hosting provider had gone in receivership when their site went down. Once again Rackspace worked around the clock to save their business. 

Step 2

Once you can put yourself in your customers shoes, ask: “What will really help them to overcome their challenge?”

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).

Step 3

When you think you have cracked it, ask again: “In my customer’s eyes, does this add outstanding value that they cannot get elsewhere?”

You may have to repeat the exercise several times but…. if you follow these steps and really challenge your thinking I promise you will attract customers in droves, like bees to a honeypot and your margins will soar.

 

 

Comments (6)

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  1. This is a wonderful article that I will use on my website, TheseAreGreat.com. I think one of the most important things is under Why Customers Are Not Flocking To You, point #2. They are not aware of the difference between you and your competition.
    Thank you.
    Christine

  2. I think this article really hits the spot. We have been wrestling with this problem and another associated one, for some time now. Our present problem, and it is next in line to this one I think, is that we have noticed that the better the service we give, the more we become ‘invisible’ to our customers! When things go wrong the customer is ready to find a new supplier because we did not take the trouble to keep him appraised of ‘how well we have been doing’ on a month by month basis. I believe that this ‘syndrome’ goes very well with you ‘empathy’ thesis.
    I think your article is really good.

  3. Jane,

    I like the article, I think that you have hit the nail on the button.

    Rick

  4. This is a great reminder and goes to the core of what – oops! – WHO is important and challenges us to constantly be standing in the shoes of the other or at least walk a mile in their moccasins. I am forwarding this to a number of my clients.

  5. Really useful tips, it is so easy to get lost in your product that you do not see it from a customer perspective.

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