Doctor, what am I not selling?
A businessman comes to a ‘business doctor’ office and asks him this question:
- Doctor, what´s going on? Why am I not selling?
The doctor, lying down in his seat, with a sympathetic smile, answers:
– There is not just one cause for that problem, sir. There may be several, but we can review them in a simple way.
Customers and Value
– First of all, are you clear who your customers are? And immediately think about this: Do you offer them an interesting set of benefits / costs? Notice that I speak of ‘your customers’, of a certain type of customers. That is to say, you must have identified, among all the customers you could reach, a certain group in which your offer is more likely to be successful.
And he goes on to say:
– Do not be surprised. Today, with the competition that we find in the market, it´s normal that we have to focus on a certain type of customers. Without going any further, I dedicate myself to cure companies’ competitiveness problems, but I don´t dedicate myself, for example, to select managers or to coach, so fashionable lately.
– Never say never, doctor — replies the businessman.
– You’re absolutely right — answers the doctor smiling.
– I have also mentioned — continues the doctor- that it´s necessary to have a good combination of benefits and costs. What is known in our world as ‘value proposition’. That is to say, clear rational benefits, let us call them tangible, as the performance offered by your product or service; and also clear emotional benefits, let us call them, in this case, intangible benefits such as design, brand image, guarantees offered … Of course, keep in mind that these emotional ones are increasingly important when competition quickly equals the advances made in the rational features.
After a pause, and observing that the businessman follows with interest his argument, he continues:
– We’re talking about a combination of benefits in exchange for some costs. Equally rational, such as price, although emotional as well, such as the lack of knowledge of the supplier or the geographical or temporal distance — in these cases, it´s a cost of physical movement or waiting in time — to satisfy the need.
– Can you give me an example, please? — The businessman asks.
– Yes, of course. Like the fruit vendor near your house, who knows that he has the best, biggest, most juicy and tasty oranges in the neighbourhood. Because he brings them from his wife’s village in Valencia where he has agreements with the owners of several small selected orchards. Those oranges are running out, even if more expensive, because they have ‘nothing to do’ with the others … Or, in other case, have you heard about the brand Tesla, a new manufacturer of electric cars? Its owner, a visionary man named Elon Musk, is quite sure he has the best automotive proposal for the near future, and has demonstrated it very consistently by the huge demand that Tesla had last March when, asking for a $ 1,000 sign for its new model car Tesla 3, he received 198,000 reserve signals in just 24 hours!!
The businessman, who is listening intently, nods.
– I heard something about that- he says.
– If, in your case, you have already identified who are your most interesting clients — concludes the doctor — and have designed a good benefits-costs proposal, superior to other alternatives that are available to the customers, then we have to start talking about another kind of problems.
A pool with water
– Have you checked if the pool has water? — the businessman raised his eyebrows — Do not be surprised, I’m not talking about the pool of your villa, I do it in a metaphorical way. I mean if you have verified that, with the customers you have selected, in the geographic territory that you can and are willing to attend, there is a sufficient demand. That is, if the pool has enough water.
– Don´t let us dive into water and have a serious accident because there’s not enough water in the pool. As we have seen before with Elon Musk and his Tesla 3 car, whose reserves stock leaves him no doubt that he has a large market to work with, okay?
The businessman nods again.
– Well, if we assume that you have already proven that there is more than enough demand for your value proposition among the selected clients, within the limits of the geographic territory where you can, reasonably, work in an efficient and secure way, we will have to pass to another question.
A matter of communication
– The reason for not being able to sell could be that your target customers ‘are not aware’ of your magnificent proposal: simply, they don´t know all the good that your products can do for them!!
– It would be a little painful if this happened — continues the doctor — and it´s more habitual than we think: to have discovered a group of clients that we can attend and delight with a very good proposal, which have a high demand capacity … but who don´t know that we exist.
– Are you sure you are ‘reaching’ with your communication to your target audience? — the doctor asks. He nods, although with some doubt, the businessman.
– Yes? Well, in that case only one more thing can happen.
– Which is it? — the businessman asks anxiously.
– Very simple, you are not communicating WELL. You offer a bad image or you aren´t able to stand out from the surrounding noise that border your target clients throughout the day 24 hours x 7 days a week x 365 days a year. Please, keep in mind that we live in a world where the average person receives more than 3,000 impacts daily. This means more than a million a year!
– And how can you avoid going unnoticed? — asks the businessman.
– The solution for this is, first, to capture the attention of your client. Something that today is more valuable than money, because there is more money than time to pay attention. And, as a good businessman, you know that attention is the first thing to be captured in order to be able to sell something to a customer. Afterwards, we will have to awaken genuine interest — continues the doctor.
After a pause in which he observes how the businessman is thinking about it with the absorbed look, the doctor concludes with a sympathetic gaze:
– If you had all four things on the list well resolved, I’m sure you wouldn´t had come to my office.
The businessman reflects for a few moments and says:
– Doctor you have indeed been very kind. Now I know what I have to do to solve my lack of sales.
– First, check that I have an interesting value proposition — a set of benefits and costs — for a certain type of customers, which you have called my target customers.
– Second, confirm that this target audience is sufficient in number and presents a high demand for our product. That is, there are enough people who need it and want to solve the need that our product or service can fulfil.
– Third, check that our communications are reaching the target audience by the appropriate channels and at the right time.
– And finally, confirm that our communications are effective: they provide us an adequate image and stand out among all the trash that will grip our customers throughout the day.
– Congratulations — says the doctor — I see that you have understood perfectly the sequence of steps necessary to have good sales in a standard, competitive market.
– Doctor, I am very grateful because I think I know where my problem is.
– You´re welcome, thanks to you for making the decision to come and see me — replies the doctor extending his hand to the businessman.
– But just one more thing before you leave — says the doctor, while the businessman is turning away — I have explained you the reasons why your business may not be selling, but not the reasons for not making money despite selling a lot. That’s a very different thing!
– Oh, of course! We should leave it for another day. But we’ll have to talk about it, too — replies the businessman with a broad smile on his face.
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Disclaimer: This post was published on October 31, 2016 in Spanish on the blog “Innovación con los 5 sentidos” by Javier Sastre on the following link