“My name is Zainab Makinde, I’ve got something I know you’ll be interested in.” Five minutes and fifty mumbled up sentences you heard little of and you mouth the four words –“Sorry, I’m not interested.”
Many of us have been faced with similar scenarios from random sales people with products or services we didn’t think we needed. However, sometimes we were actually in need of these products, but the problem was that the salesperson failed to enlighten us on which of our needs the product would meet, and how.
One of the major problems faced by small business owners is that they fail to identify the solutions their products or services provide to the customer. Many times we find an entrepreneur with a ‘great’ product, yet he knocks from door to door, from morning till the clock strikes five, unable to record meaningful sales.
How do the features of your products translate into benefits and gains for the customer? Why should the customer go out of their way to buy from you, and not your competitor? Which of the customers pressing needs and nagging aches do your products meet and relieve? In being able to confidently provide answers to these questions, lies a secret to making great sales.
Here are two basic steps you must take to answer these questions.
Identify Your Niche
What product do you sell? In what industry do you operate? What subset of that industry do you serve?
You have to identify a particular market segment that you serve or will serve. How can you answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question when you don’t even know who your customer is?
Remember this: You cannot be everything to everyone. This is a small business mistake. They attempt to be small fishes in big ponds and as a result, they get drowned. Why be a wandering general when you can be a meaningful specific?
Don’t try to be all things to all people, choose your niche.
For instance, a make-up artist providing services for all kinds of events- weddings, birthdays, movie shoots, professional engagements. In serving the entire industry, you will get frustrated. Your marketing efforts will yield dissatisfying results because you will need different marketing strategies to reach out to the different sets of customers. Furthermore, you will get lost in the haze, becoming a Mr. Nobody- jack of all trades, master of none. Instead, tailor your services to cater for a particular market segment. For example, movie shoots. Carve a niche for yourself and establish yourself as an expert in theatrical/film make-up services. Start from there and build your business into a brand that is well known and recognized for theatrical makeup.
Let me share some examples with you.
Banke Meshida of BM Pro has established herself as an expert in bridal make-up. When you think bridal make-up, first name that comes up is Banke Meshida. Zapphire Events is an event planning company. They have carved a niche for themselves as wedding planners. The first wedding planning company one would readily think of is Zapphire.
Aim to be a big fish in a small pond. When you have dominated that pond, you can dive into other ponds, spread your tentacles, and conquer those territories as well.
When you have identified who you want to serve- your customers, you will be able to determine where you can find them, how you can reach out to them, and what their needs are. Let’s use the wedding planner for illustration. Your customers are men & women who are planning to get married. Who would more readily desire to use the services of the wedding planner? More often than not, it’s the bride. This is your primary target market- brides.
Now, where would you find prospective brides? Would you find lots of them at schools parents/teachers meetings or associations? Not likely. Would you find them at couples retreats? No way! Having identified your target customer, you know where you can’t find them in mass, and you can brainstorm where you can find them in higher numbers. You can also identify what will make them decide to use your services, how you can appeal to their needs, why they will want to settle for you and not another wedding planner, how they like to be served, etc.
Identify the Value You Provide.
Your product is the next best thing since slice bread. So what? How does that affect me? You know that question “what’s in it for me?” Yes. Every potential customer wants to know what’s in it- your product or service- for them.
Before your customers can buy from you, the potential Return on Investment to them must be evident. What does the prospect stand to gain by buying from you?
What needs and wants do your products meet? What problems do they solve? Stop selling your products, start selling benefits. Sell your products in terms of how they make your customer’s life better. What itch does your product scratch? Identify it.
Find out the pressing needs, and compelling desires of your customers that your product can solve. Customers buy for different reasons, be it financial or emotional. If you’re selling to businesses, more often than not, their pressing needs is making more money. How can your product or service help the potential customer make more money? Identify this, and project it when presenting your product to the prospect.
If you are selling to individual buyers, their pressing needs could range from financial to emotional. It could be to save time, for social status/prestige, to reduce risk, et cetera. Find this out, and identify how your product can help meet these needs. This is what you should present to the customer.
For example, you are a caterer, providing home cooked soups and meals for married female professionals. One of the pressing needs of this market segment is time- maximizing the little free time they have. They work 9-5, and get home to late to cook anything up. You package your product- local soups- in varying sized bowls, to sell to them. The value of your products to the women you sell to includes keeping their husbands, raising healthy kids, preventing physical breakdown, and so on. Find out which of these is most important to the customer, then present this when trying to get them to buy from you.
Why will I buy from you when you have not been able to tell me what exactly your product can do for me? No one really cares about all the technology that has been put into designing your product, when it comes to the customer, it all goes down to what- in plain, simple English- he stands to gain.
The most successful businesses have been able to identify who their customers are, where they can be found, and what they really want. Want your business to be successful? Brainstorm your own answers to the who, where and what questions.
Photo Credit: anser.com
Like you, sales and marketing coach and consultant Bukola Olayemi has seen many businesses fail in their ultimate aim of selling their products/services. She works with small-businesses and entrepreneurs that are stuck in this low-sales maze, helping them get more customers and make bigger sales, faster than they thought possible.