Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend of mine from the brewery industry. She was part of a startup brewery just like me and now coaches brewery owners. I think that’s super cool. I’m also coaching businesses, but I don’t work with breweries at this time as I also happen to own one. We were talking about the dangers of discounting and I was reminded of an article I’d written on discounting. I reread it and realized there was something I had left out.
If your product isn’t popular and isn’t selling at the price you set, there’s something that you need to hear.
All of the people who did not buy from you know this thing.
In my experience, almost nobody will tell you this thing.
I think they’re afraid to tell you the truth.
Probably because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
My idea is that to be a good friend to you, I will tell you the painful truth. This is something I do with my coaching clients, and the feedback I get is that it’s one of the most valuable services I provide.
Here it comes.
What you’re selling isn’t good enough to buy.
If your product isn’t selling at the price you set, you haven’t convinced your customers that they will get the benefit you promise. That might be because it isn’t a good enough product. The other possibility is that it is a good enough product, and you simply haven’t communicated the value proposition well enough.
That’s it. Bottom line, it’s one or the other of those two things.
Step one in every business is to sell something that somebody wants to buy. The most fundamental force in the success of a business is the value proposition. The value proposition is the equation of what you are giving for what you are getting.
I remember coming to this realization years ago, and doing some research on this idea. I quickly found published work from the Harvard Business School where some super smart people had extensive research on the subject to answer the question of the most important factor in the success of any business.
Sell something that someone else wants.
What are you selling? Let me ask this another way: what are you struggling to sell?
Get out a pen and paper and write it down on the top of the page.
To solve the sales problem, we need to figure out if what you’re selling is what someone wants to buy. Perhaps it seems like a great idea, or it’s super clever, but it doesn’t truly fill the actual need your presumptive customers experience.
This might be painful. But it’s worth it. We tell ourselves stories about why something doesn’t sell. Things like “the economy is bad” or “competitors are entering the market” or “the weather” or “election season” or any other story that may have some truthiness to it, but absolves us from responsibility to take a good, hard look at our offer.
“Truthiness” is a word coined by Stephen Colbert, and refers to a story that seems true, or feels true, but really doesn’t capture the whole, truth and nothing but the truth.
Can you relate? What stories have you told yourself as to why something isn’t selling? Write down your answers on the same paper.
The next step in improving your sales in this case is to replace the truthiness in your story with more truth. This can be very difficult, and can take several iterations. Try writing your story of why something isn’t selling, but see if you can get closer to the truth with it.
Then write it again, and see where you can eliminate some more of the truthiness and get closer to the truth.
If you’re convinced that the thing you sell is exactly what they want and no improvement can possibly be made in your offer, then the thing to look at is your sales process.
Maybe you haven’t convinced them that what you’re selling is right for them. If you have told them this product or service will solve their problem and they still don’t buy, no matter what they say (too expensive, too busy, etc.), the real truth is this:
They don’t believe you.
Somewhere there’s a chasm between what you’re telling them and what they actually believe. There are ways to bridge this gulf with social proof, testimonials, stats and data, free trials, etc.
None of that will work if you haven’t stopped to take the time to truly evaluate and develop the thing that they want.
Let’s get back to the beer business.
Our goal in the brewery business is to make high-quality beer that gets into the mouths of craft beer enthusiasts. Our success or failure in that mission starts with the product that we create.
When my brewery produces a beer, we do a limited can release out of our tiny startup garage facility. We roll up the doors on a Saturday, we’re there for four hours, and we invite people to come and get it. Whether they do or don’t, after that session we’re done. We’re not open every day, it’s a “strike while the iron is hot” situation. The first time a customer can get that beer is on a release day.
I love being there for this experience to watch the people’s reaction. I can predict the success of a given beer recipe, label, packaging, etc. based on that early interaction. When we produce something that we think is super cool but people don’t turn out to pick it up on release day, that tells me that we didn’t hit the target market.
On the other hand, when we have great turnout and strong sales on that opening day release day it tells me that we’ve hit the target.
Your success or failure also starts with the product that you create or the service that you provide.
Is there hope?
You bet there is. If you took the steps above that I recommended, you’ve started down the change process towards solving your sales problem.
Subscribe to stay tuned for more on the process, or if you’re in a hurry, email me now.
We teach the Science of Change, Business Models, and the Science of Trust in our coaching practice. Permanently solving the sales struggles in your business can definitely be accomplished by learning these three sciences.
If you’re taking a fresh look at what you sell, especially something you’re struggling to sell, and you would like some help evaluating your offer, drop me a line. Let me know about your business, I’d love to listen to your story.
Originally published at https://www.russmann.com on March 15, 2020.