Ever face one of these B2B product sales challenges?
- You have a product, you take it to market and nobody seem to want it?
- You have an existing product that has been selling well, but now isn’t?
These are more common than one might think. And, they’re fairly easy to overcome with a little hard work.
Let’s be very candid. What has worked in the past doesn’t any longer. It’s a new world of selling business-to-business products. A world that must be adapted to or a business risks irrelevancy and a slow (maybe, quick) demise and death.
To overcome the circumstances above, here are things that you’ll want to immediately consider and implement:
1. Product innovation. If your products don’t look different than the competition, it’s trouble. Take a look at your existing product. Ensure that it has a strong, clear and valuable advantage over the competition. Innovate new capability, new benefit and new value to the market and customer. Customers seek new, innovative approaches to solving their problems. Be the innovator and watch product sales grow.
2. Product/customer experience innovation. Evaluate the end-to-end look customer experience. Identify and eliminate inconsistencies and bottlenecks that send your customer and prospects to the competition. Today’s battlefield is customer experience. Be the one that delivers the best product customer experience and see more product opportunity and revenue.
3. Price and profit innovation. Dig into your supply chain details and internal processes. Seek out and get better pricing and terms from suppliers. Drive out internal process complexity and streamline your customer interactions for cost savings. Customers seek to know that you’re flexible in adapting to their pricing, terms or process requirements.
4. New or updated value proposition. Often overlooked, but one of the most powerful tools to reinvigorate or create new product opportunity is the determination and packaging of a validated and compelling value proposition. Make sure that your product’s value proposition is truly unique, easy to understand, packaged in a manner the market or customer expects and showcases value and benefit that the customer wants.
5. Better competitive differentiation. Quit following what your competitors are doing. If your customers can’t see a difference between your product and your competition then why should you expect them to buy your products? They won’t. Instead, find and highlight those distinct advantages that your product delivers. Stay away from the “me-too” product features and benefits and really stay away from highlighting disadvantages (those things that your product does, but that your competitors do better). Stand out and be different and see an increase in the number of times you make the “short list.”
6. Stay out of the weeds. Product managers and product marketers really like to highlight the nuance, the detail, the little things in an attempt to show value and benefit. Stop doing this in your marketing. Find the really big advantages and simplify how you present them. If you think that your product has many, many advantages… find the most strategic and highlight those. Customers seek simplicity and ease of identification and understanding, so don’t make them work so hard at seeing why your product is better.
7. Connect to the business. It’s rare that a product “sells itself” for the reasons stated above. However, even if the things above are solved…you still need to connect the product to the business. Identify, validate, package and communicate how your product saves time or money, or how it creates new opportunity, or how it creates customer loyalty and stickiness, or how it impacts revenue, profitability and business value. The better you can connect your product to positive impact on your customer’s balance sheet the more they will want what you’re offering.
8. Grow your company brand. Engineers, product managers and product managers will want their product to be the “center of the universe” for your business. They’ll want to have their product “brand” be the one implanted in the market. Avoid this outcome if at all possible. Build your company’s brand, customer experience, value proposition and reputation. Use products to be the “point of engagement” into your company’s brand and customer experience. Products come and go. Product brands come and go. Your company does not. Get the market and customer to be loyal to your company. You don’t have to be #1 in your product category, but you do have to make your customers feel that their best, #1, brand experience is with you.
9. Elevate product marketing. In the past the front-line to the customer was exclusively the domain of the salesperson. No longer. Today’s buyers expect to make decisions independent of the salesperson as they often know what they want before they talk with you or your salesperson. It’s critically important to have high-performance product marketing that can drive compelling use cases, benefit and value information and decision criteria. Oh, your product marketers are also the best conduit of real-world, use-case-based information to your engineers and product managers.
10. Think like the customer. Avoid the trap of “internally-driven product.” That is, product we build because we think it’s neat or “we would buy it” thinking. Turn information gathering, product idea validation, feature/benefit prioritization, value proposition, positioning, packaging, pricing and customer experience into a customer engagement exercise. Integrate your customer into every step of the process as they’re the ones with the budget and will really buy what you’re offering.
11. Use outsiders for new advantage. While most businesses and products are started to innovatively solve a discovered problem or challenge, it’s common for the mission to change to maintaining or incrementally growing the status quo. When this happens, internal resources become internally focused and lose their ability to see markets, products and opportunity with objectivity and willingness to innovate and take risks. Find and engage proven, experienced, skilled outsiders to provide “cold-eyes review” of products, product portfolios and product ideas to more quickly and cost effectively turn your product sales problem around.
The Afterburner Group has been turning around problematic product sales for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.
If you think that your product sales are suffering or could benefit from an evaluation, strategy and reinvigoration, fill out the contact form below and let’s connect to see what that might look like and how you’d benefit.
Sell more product.
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