Stop SELLING in Order to SELL MORE
Today’s post was inspired by a newsletter I received via email from a company which I am not only a client of, but a big fan of. Because I truly care about their product and believe it to hold great value to many people all over the world, I shot them off a quick email to alert them to this so they could do even better. And at Optum Consulting, that just might be what we do best - take companies and products that are already great and make them that much better.
In the bigger picture what we are talking about in today’s post is something we call AVOIDING LEAKAGE. Look for past and future posts regarding this concept specifically. But in short, for the purposes of this post, â€œLeakageâ€ is a term we coined at Optum Consulting that refers to that moment when your customers or potential customers â€œsee throughâ€ one of your sales techniques or methods and it gives them a negative feeling instead of a positive one.
Oftentimes the consumer is not even aware of it. It is something that takes place subconsciously in the consumerâ€™s mind and they aren’t even sure what it was exactly but something just turned them off. So instead of a sale, you get a â€œno saleâ€ or a “walk away” or a “hang up” or a â€œdeleteâ€ or even worse an â€œunsubscribe.â€ Now sometimes the customer IS aware of it. They know exactly what it was that turned them off. They notice something that just seems a bit â€œoffâ€ and it turned them off â€“ such as when a company makes the mistake of advertising â€œthe lowest price everâ€ for a product in one piece of sales literature but that customer also happened to notice that they offered an even lower price a few months back, or in another piece of literature that was sent to a different database and they just happen to be signed up to both databases. That’s leakage in a nutshell and you want to avoid it at all costs.
There are hundreds of mistakes a company can make in their sales literature and sales methods that can cause â€œLeakage.â€ Again, look for a more detailed examination of it in past and future posts. But you get the idea.
Today we will be discussing just one of those. And it can easily be summed up by the following words: STOP SELLING if you really want to SELL MORE of your product. Selling has always been a turn off to consumers. It is one of the enigmas of being in business. How to sell your product without actually SELLING. Or at least without letting your customer feel as though they are being SOLD TO.
One of the ways companies used to â€œsellâ€ was to â€œthreatenâ€ their customers with â€œSupplies limited!â€ or â€œAct Now! Product Going Fast!â€ We call this technique â€œstressing urgency.â€ It used to work. And in some cases it can still work. But not very often anymore. Only in the lowest-value-product markets. Late night TV infomercials are good examples of products that still use this method. But even they are smartening up to the ever-smarter consumer and the new methods that are necessary to sell to them.
The days of threatening your customers or potential customers with â€œonce they are gone, they will not be reprinted!â€ (as the company I am referring to had done in their newest newsletter regarding a book they are trying to sell) are over. And they have been for about ten years now. This was one of the many catchphrases that we used to use in the old-school business model known as â€œstressing urgency.â€ But those old-school days are over.
Now I know what you’re thinking. â€œBut that used to be one of the RULES of selling!â€ â€œLimited time only!â€ â€œSpace cannot be saved.â€ â€œOrder yours now before itâ€™s too late!â€
And you’d be right. Just a decade ago those WERE the rules. But your customers have grown up since then. Haven’t you? And who are YOU? A consumer yourself? Right? Right.
Now do you really think that Mr. and Mrs. Potential Customer believe that if you were to receive twenty-thousand orders in the next two months for this very valuable five-volume book set that you WOULD NOT re-print it? Are you implying that somehow the very book itself is going to magically disappear like this is Lord of the Rings or something? (The idea is humorous when you come right down to it.)
Or do you think that they just might see right through this old seventies-style sales card-trick and realize that you are just trying to get them to â€œorder today!â€ by â€œstressing urgencyâ€ — using one of those famous old sales catch-phrases like â€œSupplies are limited!â€ or â€œLimited Quantities on Hand!?â€
What’s your guess?
Well you guessed right. Just like YOU, your customers have all grown up and out of those old tricks long ago. And this is a perfect example of Leakage. They see right through the technique and it gives them a bad taste in their mouth.
ESPECIALLY customers of higher-value-products because you are dealing with a much more advanced clientele than say companies who are selling â€œblendersâ€ or â€œGrill Masters.â€
And frankly, as not only a customer, but still a potential future customer of future products, when your company does this, you are risking coming across downright insulting to the very people that matter most to you - your customers.
There is plenty of work out there regarding this paradigm shift that took place in the mind of the average consumer. It is being called everything from â€œconscious consumerismâ€ to â€œmarketing to smarter shoppersâ€ to…. fill in the blank. The nomenclature of the paradigm is always changing.
Just remember that there is nothing more stomach churching than a company threatening their customers with â€œorder todayâ€ because â€œsupplies are limitedâ€ in this day and age.
Consumers are just too smart now. They/we realize that there simply is no such thing as â€œlimited suppliesâ€ anymore. Not now. Now if you are speaking of a product that actually does have a â€œlimited supplyâ€ such as gold or oil or precious coins… that would be different. But books? Are you kidding me? Especially when everyone and their brother realizes that you can just as easily turn that baby into a downloadable ebook or a â€œkindleâ€ tomorrow and not only help the environment but also have an endless supply on hand. Tsk tsk.
So instead of feeling that â€œrush of excitementâ€ because you tried to â€œstress urgency,â€ your customers end up feeling insulted that you attempted to use such corny old sales tricks on them in todayâ€™s new marketplace.
If your product is good, and your customer base knows it, try being more honest, direct, upfront, and informational with your customers. Stress the VALUE of the product. Not the â€œlimited Supply.â€ Speak from your heart. In other words â€œStop selling. And you will sell more.â€ It works like a charm. (And that my friends is why we titled todayâ€™s blog post just that.)
The truth is that great products sell themselves. Think of BMW, the iPod, plasma flat-screen TVs. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need to advertise. It just means you don’t need to SELL. There are products with great intrinsic value. There is absolutely no need to SELL people on them. They sell themselves. All you have to do when you have a product that has built-in intrinsic value is OFFER IT and it will be ACCEPTED by your clientele.
The beauty is that they will adore you for offering it to them. Why? Because they like your product. They want your product. They already see and know its intrinsic value. (At least if youâ€™ve good ad copy writers that is â€“ which is a whole other story. And yes that is not only one of our specialties at Optum Consulting, it happens to be one of our passions).
I will leave you with this image to give you a real world example of just what I am talking about here. Think of your favorite musical artist. Everyone has at least ONE favorite musical artist. Maybe itâ€™s someone older, or maybe itâ€™s the newest act on the block. But go ahead and close your eyes and take a moment to think of who yours is. You just absolutely LOVE them and their music. Their music does something to you that you just canâ€™t even put into words…
Now in order to get you to buy one of their new albums, do they market it as â€œbuy now because we won’t make more!?â€ Or do they simply just let you know that â€œso and soâ€ has a new CD out and itâ€™s great!â€ Well of course you canâ€™t wait to hear it because you already love that artist! Right? So what are you going to do? You got it. You’re going to buy it. Not because they’re going to â€œrun out.â€ But because you already know it is of great value to you. And you are excited that it is now available. They don’t have to SELL YOU. They simply offer it up. And you the consumer naturally buy it.
As always, best of luck to all of you. But then again if you are reading this, you don’t need luck. Just keep up the great work. And here’s to more money and success for you and your company!
Ed Hale :: Optum Consulting