Missing your targets? It might not be what you're selling.

Sales and marketing

If there is something the Digital revolution of the last decade or so has taught us, it's that there are very few things people won't pay for. From apps to gadgets, if someone thinks of it, there are probably people who will want to buy it. 

What is it that makes a product become massive, though, and what holds one back from doing the same?? We often see a handful of similar products emerge at similar times, some hit and some miss. Taking out of the equation the product itself (for the sake of this argument well assume perfection) a lack of sales doesn't necessarily mean the idea is bust. Often the question of where is best to sell is cloaked in too many assumptions and the best options are missed.

The consumers for a product differ from place to place. Sometimes you can be targeting the perfect customer, but in a place that isn't wanting what you're selling. Before you argue that means the market isn't right or the customers targeted aren't properly defined, consider that markets mature and evolve at different rates in different places and the product life cycle also plays a role. Your target can be the best profile, but not ready for you yet.

At this point you often find businesses changing their product by simplifying it, reducing the cost to the consumer (often by opting for cheaper production) or splitting features in to other products. The first assumption is often that the product and the concept aren't right. 
We can all be too quick to assume a fundamental problem, when all is really required is a change of tact.

The place your product is conceived in doesn't have to be the same one you sell it in, especially not at first. In Australia particularly, we conceive and develop some fantastic things, but we are a reasonably small market and while early adopters, like something to be proven to work first. This can make it hard to get the traction you're looking for and lead to products deemed to have failed. 

Australian businesses are often encouraged to start small and locally to establish a base to work from. While there is some merit in this, sometimes it can hinder the potential of your product. There are far bigger international markets for almost everything created in Australia. The access to revenue is therefore greater, and if you are pioneering a new product or niche, you will have a global lead on your competitors. Once selling and established in larger markets, entry to Australia can be quicker, easier and more cost effective.

The way you construct and analyse everything around your product will shape how you sell. It seems obvious, but it is vital each part is dealt with comprehensively. Neglecting any part of it can leave a fundamental flaw in what you're doing. The biggest risk is often in making assumptions around people and behaviour, and what that will mean in terms of them purchasing from you.

It is a complex balance between product and market and often there will be some movement required on both sides. Forcing people to want something is near enough impossible. Don't be too quick to start hacking at your product though. Look past your own backyard to make sure the people you're wanting to sell to aren't out there waiting for you to find them.

When you're looking at your markets and sales, consider these points to help guide the who, where and what of your sales process:

  1. What are the targets we've set? What share of the market are we aiming for and how does that compare to our competitors?
  2. Are the people we're trying to sell to spending and buying at the moment?
  3. We're sure we're targeting the perfect customer, but are there enough for us to draw from in this location?
  4. Why have we chosen these people and this place? How did we work it out?
  5. Is there somewhere that would offer better return, based on market size and expected market share?

And lastly,

When did we last ask the customer if this is something they want?

 


Andrew Snell

Andrew Snell

Director at Coaster Group

Andrew brings a range of skills and experience not often found together. Working simultaneously across different industries and disciplines he has a unique view of the business landscape. He has high level experience in marketing and public relations strategy and delivery, live production and technical management and design and has worked in and with many high profile SMEs. Andrew founded and runs Coaster Group and is a keen, serial entrepreneur - making ideas real is his passion.

Coaster Group

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Consulting and strategy


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Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

It's true, about analysing what you are offering. When I think back on all the successes of certain companies it wasn't the big actions that got them there, but just a little thoughtful tweak that made it helpful for people to do what they needed to do. For ipods it was the wheel. Just by placing the control in a circular way made it vastly different but when you think about it - it's just a simple tweak, it wasn't a new feature. The buttons did the same thing other MP3 buttons did, in fact they offered less functionality. It wasn't exactly "new" technology but just a little design change that really made it more convenient. The devil is in the details and I think it will save you a lot of wasted breath if a little bit of thought is put up front to refine your offering. I also love the points you made about finding the right customer, that so important!! The difference between speaking to people that are already interested in your product and people that you have to try and convince is worlds apart - plus it gives us that little boost of confidence we need :)