Selling online products to offline businesses

5 ways to do so succesfully.

Whether they be loyalty apps or CMS’s, apps and online services aimed at traditional “offline” businesses are becoming increasingly popular.

Although B2B is seen as an easier market than B2C, when the B2B transaction consists of an “online” and an “offline” business, this sale can be one of the hardest to accomplish as the traditional businesses come kicking and screaming into the digital world.

I have advised and worked closely with two startups in this space, and discovered that the same objections come up time and time again, and subsequently identified the best ways to overcome these and successfully sell online solutions to traditionally offline businesses.

Show the product

I am a big advocate of reducing all unnecessary steps in a sales cycle and in general if you do not need a meeting in order to sell your product then I believe you should not volunteer one. However, when selling to traditional businesses, it is vital to physically show them your solution, especially when it comes to something that is unnatural to them such as a digital product and they therefore can struggle to visualise what it looks like and most importantly how this could benefit them.

By letting them see it, touch it, feel it, you can instantly make them feel more comfortable and the transaction will be more familiar.

Focus on tangible benefits

The bad news is is that traditional companies do not care how good your app or product looks or what a great UX it has, the things that you believe are important in your product are not as important to them.

Rather than wasting your breath meticulously explaining every little feature and detail, all you need to focus on is the most tangible measurement of all: revenue. This is the number one concern for traditional businesses, and the metric that is best understood and the most translatable between the online and offline world. Tell them exactly how much more revenue they will generating using your solution compared to how they are currently operating.

Freemium model

It is incredible hard to get someone to change a longstanding behaviour and mindset that has worked well for them in the past but it is even harder asking someone to pay you in order for them to do so! Especially one that they struggle to understand and see the benefits in.

Often the best way to demonstrate the value in your product and to earn their trust that you can provide tangible benefit is to let the customer use your product for free initially, and employ a freemium model so as to once they are comfortable with the product, understand the upsides, and even come to rely on it, then you can charge for additional features or usage.

Full service solution and support

The last thing that these type of businesses want to take on is more work, especially work that they will see as challenging, and unfamiliar. Often offline businesses assume that an online solution comes with a lot of behind the scenes work that they would have to take care of, and this can be a scray proposition.

The best way to put this objection to bed is to ensure your solution is as full service as possible and that the support is exceptional and ensures that they do not have to worry about anything too technical or do anything too time consuming on the back end.

Hire a quality salesman

Finally, unfortunately no matter how great the product is, the key to your product being a success in this market is to ensure you are able to convey the benefits in the most effective way.

The biggest battles you are facing in terms of market saturation are overcoming habits, mindsets and behaviours. Therefore hiring a good salesperson is vital, in this market this is as, if not more essential than hiring good developers and product people if you want to succeed.

I write regularly on customer acquisition, content marketing and startup communities over on my blog, you can sign up to it here, I can also be found on Twitter here.