How many times have you watched a late-night infomercial and had your initial skepticism turn into a desire to pick up the phone and call now? More often than not, demand is not sitting around, waiting for a supply to fill it – rather, demand is manufactured when a supply of a new product or service is created, and consumers are taught why they need this new thing. As sales pro Alen Majer put it, “There is no demand. Both the demand and the goods have to be manufactured. The public has always held fast to its old-fashioned discomforts, until the salesperson persuaded it to let go.”
So how does a sales professional generate demand to accompany a new commodity? Here are some tips for interesting and convincing the public that your service or product is a must-have:
- Know your customers – It’s vital to know your customers more than they know themselves – what drives them to action, what their needs are, what opportunities and threats they face. Remember that pain points often move people to action more than benefits, so be sure to articulate how your solution will alleviate a thorn in their side. This is especially true with new products, since their benefits may not be obvious to the customer (even though they are to you).
- Look through your customer’s eyes – Closely related to the previous point, it’s important to go one step further and think of what results your customer’s looking to achieve. How will your solution help them progress from Point A to Point B? Why would they use your field’s solution in the first place? Never assume that this is obvious – the real answer often goes beyond what’s on the surface.
- Create value by focusing on results – When you understand what it is your customer seeks, you can then speak to that end goal by explaining to them your unique value proposition – why it is that your commodity will help them achieve their goals, not only in the generic industry sense but also in the brand-specific sense. Focus on any indicators or symptoms that show there’s a problem needing your solution. Often it’s those symptoms that your customer will notice more than the root issue.
- Begin sales conversions from the customer perspective – Remember the power of WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” Lead with your customer’s problems, helping them understand what the problems are, what causes them, and then what consequences they’ll face if the problems go unsolved. When this is clear, then there’s no need to sell the benefits of your product or service – they’ll be obvious.
- Make your value concrete – Find a way to attach some sort of measurable benefit to your solution, whether it be a monetized value or a specific amount of time you’ll save your customer. Make clear the costs of changing as well as the costs of not changing – that provides a tangible perspective that will often motivate a customer to action. There’s a big difference between “This will save you time and money” and “Our customers finish the task 30% more quickly than with other solutions, reducing expenses by $3 million annually.”