Sales Myths - A Good Product Sells Itself and Selling is Easy
At the end of the day, sales are what makes or breaks a small business. Many entrepreneurs, especially those who are the product gurus in their company, never fully grasp either their importance or the process that drives them. To them, sales are just a function of having an excellent product (from a design and technical standpoint) that customers flock to.
The product practically sells itself. And, often, these attitudes have little to do with whether the small business is just starting out or has been around for years.
First, let's dispel the myths, like a good product sells itself.
If selling were easy, everybody would succeed at it. And they don't. Oh, sure there are those unique sales folks who could sell space heaters in Hell, but not nearly as many as you'd think. The sales game is way tougher these days, with more competition for virtually every product or service and easier communication about them. And customers have changed. They have more options than they did before, so they're more demanding with higher expectations.
"If selling was so easy, everybody would succeed at it"No matter how good a product is, either technically, fulfilling needs or addressing problems, it doesn't sell itself. People always point to things like iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. as examples. Well, what about the marketing that preceded each introduction, to say nothing of the confidence customers had in Apple products' reputation, built up over many years. Without that marketing and that reputation, the successes of those products would have been severely reduced. So, they didn't sell themselves!
However, all that said, there is a definite sales-product connection to success. Even the best salespeople can't sell a "buggy" product or one that has a reputation for being hard to use, expensive, etc. And with an excellent product but no good marketing and sales support the results will be lackluster, at best.
"Even iPhones can't sell themselves!"
Here's some questions to ask yourself to help get both working together for more effective sales success:
Are sales people second class citizens in your company?A classification, often, exists in companies where the culture is technology-based, and sales people are often looked down upon or treated as "outsiders."
If this is the case for your business, think about the team concept. Sales people, simply, play another position, requiring different skill sets, but nonetheless, are just as critical to overall company success.
If they don't succeed, the company doesn't. Many technology companies miss this important point (usually because of the myths) and, often, run off genuine sales people.
Do you get sales input for marketing programs?In a previous blog post, I talked about the importance of qualified leads for sales success. Sales people are the closest to the marketplace. They're in there every day. Get their input before you develop a major marketing campaign, even social media.
And then keep them informed as you roll it out, so they don't look like dopes when a customer asks them out a new promotion they didn't know was even in the offing.
Do you support sales in the field?Do you want to sell more? Make the product easier to sell. Wherever possible, try to provide support to salespeople in the field, especially if you have a very technical product.Manuals, tutorials, etc., all help the sales process. But the best idea is to get your technical people on a sales call, out in front of customers.
Your salespeople will not only get a better grasp of the product, but your technical people will get a better understand and respect for what they do. Respect furthers the "team concept" as well as creates a better feeling for technical folks for the customer situation. Growing respect within your team can only help both the product and the sales effort, long-term.
Do you really know how customers feel about your product?Do you respect customer opinion (or you do you just think they're all dumb)? And, is your product that good? Respect your client. They have a right to be dumb...they have a checkbook!
But, if you aren't seeking and listening to your customers' feedback about your product's shortcomings (all products have some), you're missing valuable information that will make your product more saleable to more buyers in the future.
Are you seeking customer referrals for your product?Your product needs champions (beyond your company). Happy customers love to share. Help them get the word out about your product. Develop case studies and get testimonials for your website. Make them "stars." Putting your customers center stage will, in turn, reap dividends with the sales people having more things working for them to help them sell.
Sales drive overall success. But to achieve that success you need to understand that selling isn't easy and that it's not true that a good product sells itself. You need to bring the sales function into your cultural mix. Your future success depends on it!
"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!
Are you developing a sales culture in your company? Tell me how in your comments. It will help other entrepreneurs!
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