How Do I Sell a New Product in a Crowded Market?
Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
I was just hired to boost sales at a company whose product is great, but not very well known in a very crowded market. I sold the number-one rated product for the top player in my region for years, so I never had to worry about my pitch. Now suddenly I’m nervous about my persuasion skills. Would love any tips!
Congrats on the new role. Let’s focus on the things you have going for you and the things you need to enhance.
What’s going for you:
1. Your credibility and relationships with longtime clients. It takes time to develop trust in business, but that fact that you’ve sold a great product for years means that your former clients have trusted you to provide them with a product or services that suited their needs.
2. The effectiveness of the new product for other clients. If you truly believe that your new company’s product or service is as good as if not better than the number-one ranked product you sold for years, you are in a good position to describe the new product’s advantages over the old one. But aside from just listing the facts and features of the new product, make sure to prepare some stories showing how some of your old clients have started to recognize that changing to the new product has produced very specific financial or other benefits.
What you need to enhance:
1. Relay specific stories with you as the protagonist. Even though I just discussed the importance of telling stories showing how other clients benefited from your new product, you can enhance your pitch more by bringing yourself into the story. For example, your clients would be impressed if they heard you say, “Truthfully, in all my years of working in the industry I haven’t seen a company as committed to customer service and to modifying its product in response to customers’ suggestions.”
2. Act more like a consultant than a salesperson. Let your clients know your role is to be a partner whose mission is to help them succeed. Ask them about their teams’ goals to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Listen carefully and use that information to help them solve their specific problems with what you can offer.
3. Broaden your relationships within a company. Sometimes motivated new hires-- think the boss’s eager nephew-- are looking to change old ways and make their own personal internal mark. Don’t write these kids off. If you can help them bring in a new way of doing things and stroke their egos, just go for it. One last point, however, if you’re a boomer: don’t hand out next year’s desk calendar with your logo on it as a remember-me gift, no one under 65 uses calendars (or mousepads) anymore.
Last point, non-verbal communication is critically important on phone and Zoom calls since we don’t have the former luxury of true eye contact. Keep your voice strong, don’t interrupt, and show you’re listening by paraphrasing what they said. People are always impressed when they feel they are heard.
Best of luck and stay safe,