So you have a product or service that you think is the greatest thing yet. You believe that people should really want it. And they will as long as you do a good job of explaining why. You think that sales is persuading and convincing.
Sales is really about matching your product or service with someone else’s needs. It’s not about trying to fit your product or service into their world, or about convincing them that they should have your product or service.
I see too many salespeople and small business owners who have this backwards. They think they are supposed to ‘sell’ their product/service.
That can be a costly mistake. If you aren’t paying attention to what your target market really needs or wants, you run the risk of putting something out there that they won’t buy. Consider the example set by Earvin “Magic” Johnson. After leaving the NBA, he bought an NBA store franchise that lost $200,000 before it closed. He had picked merchandise that he preferred, not that his customers wanted. He learned a valuable lesson that you can read more about in a CNNMoney.com article from June 16, 2009.
Because of that lesson, when he decided to partner with Starbucks and offer inner-city franchises to local entrepreneurs, they sell sweet potato pie instead of scones. As Dominique Hanssen, chair of the marketing department at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, puts it in the article, selling sweet potato pie instead of scones “shows customers that you’re trying to figure out how to serve them in new ways.”
You see, it’s not about what you find interesting or valuable. It’s about what your prospect base thinks is valuable. You have to know your target market well. They aren’t going to buy what they don’t want. As “Magic” Johnson says, ‘the key is paying attention to customers.’
So, when you decide to hang your shingle, or go to work as a salesperson for someone, consider what your target market needs and wants. This understanding will not only help you determine your marketing message, but it will help you define WHO you should be targeting. When you get that figured out you will be able to find those people who need or want what you have to sell. The process will be relatively easy because you WON’T have to convince or persuade.
Remember that no one likes to be sold, but people do like to buy. So, educate them on what you have and why it is valuable. The people who should be buying your product or service will understand what you are telling them and they will see the fit. They will want what you have. That’s a good match.
Providing a service or product that others need or want will keep them coming back time after time. No matter what the economic conditions are, you can continue to succeed in business if you remember to consider your customers – what they really need and want; not what you want to sell them.
When you only focus on what you want to sell you will discover that it is harder to find people who want to buy it. If you, on the other hand, consider what your clients and prospects want and need, you can develop a message that speaks to how your product or service meets that need. It truly is about them, not you.
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About the Author: Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Sales Experts Panel at Top Sales Experts.