Today, selling a product idea has become increasingly challenging.
There is a lot of information, targeted at consumers through many channels.
Across different industries, consumers feel businesses are offering the same thing – through different advertising twist.
Therefore, prospective and current consumers are eternally confused and circumspect.
Advertising messages are taken with a pinch of salt. It is akin to the same impression some discerning people have of politicians.
Yet consumers need services and products; to alleviate their pains or improve upon their prevailing experiences.
- So how do businesses get the attention of their target consumers?
- How can businesses meet up with the consumers’ expectations?
- What could businesses do to earn trust by prospective consumers?
Within the crowd of other competitors, these and many other questions are asked by serious businesses as producers.
- Consumers as co-producers could help in product formulation before the beginning of the sales process of a new product or service.The 9 Steps Before An Effective Selling
The aim is to have a sample of target consumers to test the product for their feedback and comments.
Some of these steps may not be applicable to some industries or some businesses. But a modified form of these steps would assure of certainty before a product is released.
Provision of an expendable budget
This is an amount of money that you would need for the field exercise.
The event could be offline or online. Or both.
You will determine the time frame and the number of events.
The budget will be expendable — as an affordable loss — should you decide to drop the product idea after this test.
The need for patience
Resist the natural urge to rush a product idea into the market place in expectation of making quick money.
But are you so sure about the product?
However, it is less risky to find out what your prospective consumers feel about your product idea, before the full launch.
The “tasting” exercise gives a clearer picture.
Only very few producers or businesses have made a success in blind prospecting.
Some people attribute a unique gift to Steve Jobs, as a good reader of anticipated needs of consumers. Maybe.
Use Different Meeting Points
Subject to your budget, you will decide on the meeting places where your sample prospects will interact with your product or service.
Don’t box yourself only into the traditional way of meeting your customers. In addition to this, get ideas from other industries for this interface.
The meeting point or interface could be a one-off event or a continuous one, within a determined space of time. Look at your budget.
These activities could be an offline or an online event. I will always advise a hybrid, where you do both. (Human beings are still physical in nature. Many salespeople are losing out by ignoring other opportunities waiting to be tapped offline – in the real physical world)
Training The Sales Team
You will design the parameters and the check list, to get the responses from the sample audience. Your designated members of the sales team would have been given detailed briefings.
They should understand the real meaning of what these prospects are communicating beyond what they voice out.
It is an exercise of more active listening, keen observation and understanding of the sample audience. Do not disregard a lone commentary.
If your team hears contrary views — different from your earlier assumed position — that should be noted as a big opportunity. Appropriate attention must be given to that during the feedback analysis.
Collating the results
Give the product out as free for testing or heavily discounted – possibly close to your cost of production at worst.
You can also use technology to mimic the features and get feedback on user experience. That ought to be cost effective.
After the completion of the field exercise, it is time to study all the findings.
Study the feedback and the findings to arrive at logical conclusions.
Adjustments will be made – no doubt. Your company’s assets and resources would influence your final decision on how to come up with a finalized product or not.
The counter-intuitive thinking
These figures and inferences from the field exercise might not be enough to make the final decision. Before you conclude on a particular course of action. Think again.
Is there anything amiss?
This is where past experience and power of intuition would be brought to play, despite the logical indices in front of you.
No one is ever sure if a product idea would succeed or not until it is finally sold in the market space and over time.
Some questions to be asked:
- Should I deploy now…or wait or I shouldn’t at all?
- What are the lost opportunities, if I don’t deploy?
- What would the business lose, if I deploy?
- What are the risk factors if the product would not do well or ultimately fail in the larger market?
- What are the other influencing factors that are at play within the industry?
- What are the influential issues within the organization and outside of it?
Your reservations and answers to any of these would guide the final decision you must still make.
Recognize other product opportunities
During the field exercise there is a likelihood you get an inkling for other complimentary products ideas.
You may want to take note of that and determine what you want to do about that piece of information. Don’t be surprised if there are more favorable comments for a different product from the one being tested
Time to sell
Now you have chosen to sell.
Launch the finished product and where practicable, give support to the customers who participated, to blow the trumpet about the product.
Guy Kawasaki calls himself and such people “product evangelists”. People trust in words of mouth by referral because it is built on trust.
But don’t rule out other selling and advertising channels.
Continuous appraisal of consumers
After releasing the product into the market, a system must be in place for periodical feedback.
It is extra work though, especially if the product is doing well. You don’t want to do it.
But never trust the continued loyalty of your consumers in the midst of other overwhelming choices.
This appraisal will reveal when their tastes would have changed.
Then you will have to go back to the first step; to initiate a new innovative product — with the consumers as co-producers.
Prior understanding of your sampled customers gives a clearer picture of your product formulation.
It gives your sales-force a better traction and confidence; to win customers’ trust because they understand your offering. And they need; it to pay for it.
Let me hear your comments below.
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