Stop talking about what you sell, and start talking about how customers use what you sell.
How often do you tell your customers what your product or service does?
Every day (hopefully) if you are in sales – but what actually do you tell them?
Is it a repeating/reworking of the brochure ware – the message that was put together when the product was first designed or when you first got into selling it?
Was it written in the early days of the business – when you were bright eyed and bushy tailed, and thought what you had was the best thing since sliced bread.
If so, when did you last review this material? When did you last ask your customers exactly how they use the product or service that you offer?
In other words, do you know actually know what the capabilities of your service or product really are?
How does your business grow?
Unless you are sitting happily on a lifestyle business, that gives you the yacht, racing car and as many houses in France as you can fill with wine, you will want your business to grow – all businesses need grow if they want to survive.
And there are three ways you can do this
- Sell more to more people
- Sell more to your existing people
- Make deep cuts!
Assuming you don’t want to make deep cuts (it isn’t a sustainable way of growing your business) you are going for the first two options, which means that you need to start on a process of lead generation – so you can surface new opportunity and begin to nurture new clients.
As we mentioned in our last blog, Finding Your Niche, everything you do towards growth begins with the customer.
So, it’s vital to understand how your existing customers actually use your product or service. Because you might just find that not all of them will be using it in the way you first expect.
There have been numerous examples of this over the years.
- Listerine was first invented as a surgical antiseptic, but also as a cure for gonorrhea. In 1888 it was recorded that Listerine was for “sweaty feet and soft corns, developing between the toes.” Over the next century it was marketed as a freshening additive to cigarettes, a cure for the common cold and as a dandruff treatment. But it was in the 1920’s that the powerful antiseptic finally found its most lucrative use – a cure for bad breath.
- Twitter was set up originally for people to post about what they were doing. But before long, users were sharing links, ideas and all sorts of things. The developers realised this and changed the interface accordingly. Now, Twitter is one of the leading news reporting channels on the planet.
- Text messaging developed as a way for mobile operators to notify customers about network issues. No one predicted that customers would start using it to send messages each other. But people discovered it as a communications tool and started texting to each other. The sudden popularity of texting was such a surprise to the mobile industry that service providers were unable to set up a charging system for it to begin with. Before long it was so popular that the word “texting” appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.
- Brandy started off as a byproduct of transporting wine. About 900 years ago, merchants would boil the water off of large quantities of wine in order to both transport it more easily and save on the customs taxes. After a while, a few of these merchants dipped into their inventory and discovered that the distilled wine tasted rather good – and had a more marked effect!
- Kleenex started in 1924 marketing their tissues as a disposable face towels to remove make-up. Two years later, the manufacturer conducted research based on customer feedback and found that the majority of people were using the tissues to blow their noses. At that point they shifted to advertising Kleenex as a disposable alternative to the handkerchief, doubling their sales figures.
How are your products or services being used?
If you were to conduct a customer survey on how your products or services are being used what would you find?
Are your customers using what you sell in the way that you describe them?
A customer survey allied with a content audit is well worth doing if you are going to begin to grow your business.
By comparing the two you can see if the sales message you are delivering to your customers actively reflects their use (and therefore their needs), or whether you need to reconsider how you talk about what you sell.
This is the start of solution selling – understanding the customers needs and knowing that you can provide a solution, as opposed to features selling – telling you customers about how great you think your product is and wowing them with features, bells, whistles and everything they don’t need and won’t use.
For this to work well, after reviewing how your customers use your product, it vital to get a clear view of who your customers actually are, who it is you need to be targeting and how they are searching for the solutions you provide. This will be covered in the blogs of the next few weeks.
But by looking at your products uses first, you can begin to flesh out a new way of speaking to your existing customers, and new ways of attracting those all important new customers – A way that talks to them about their needs, and shows them the solution they have been looking for all this time.