Another missed sales forecast. Damn! Your product just isn’t selling and there’s lots of frustration and plenty of blame to go around. You pull together the Sales and Marketing teams for a brainstorming session but all you get are shrugged shoulders, pointed fingers and crossed arms. Here are three creative techniques to break the logjam and kickstart product sales.
First you need to check for leaks in your funnel. Hopefully you have a structured lead generation process and monitor your success at each stage of the marketing/sales funnel. Review your metrics to understand what is being lost at each stage. Is your audience big enough? Are they opening your emails and reading your social media? Are they clicking? Are they downloading? Are they requesting information or a demo? Do they disappear off the face of the earth once the lead goes to Sales? Does the sales cycle drag on, and on, and on . . .? Knowing where things are going wrong will help focus your remedial actions. If you don’t have this data you better start collecting it fast!
Hopefully your sales and marketing teams agree on the major target markets for the product. Instead of wasting time re-hashing value propositions, marketing campaigns and sales tactics for each segment it’s time to pull out the magic wand. Hand it to the Sales team. Give them 3 wishes that would help their success for each segment. Wishes must be things that can be controlled – typically related to the 4 Ps (product, price, promotion, place/distribution channel). When the Sales team is wielding the wand, everyone else must shut up! It’s time to pay attention to what they need.
At the end of this exercise you’ll have a matrix of your target markets each with 3 wishes for things you probably haven’t seriously tried before. Work together to evaluate the degree of difficulty of making each wish come true relative to its revenue impact. Slowly you’ll see a plan forming with prioritized actions by segment. If you’re lucky, some wishes may help across multiple segments. There’s no guarantee you can make any of the wishes a reality but at least you’ve listened to the feedback from your Sales team and can assess the effort and investment required to goose your revenues.
Up to now, you’ve likely been segmenting your market by industry sector or other familiar grouping. But if you’re not getting results, try looking at your market differently. One way is to identify leading indicators (events, purchases, behaviours, etc.) that point to a more urgent need for your product. Personal injury lawyers chase ambulances. What are the ambulances for your product?
Look back at the circumstances of the customers you’ve already won to get some clues. Did they suffer an outage beforehand? Did they recently relocate? Did they just acquire another company? Is the executive decision-maker new to the company and looking to make a mark? Segmenting your market differently will suggest new ways to promote your product (now that you have new segments, you may want to pull out that magic wand again).
There’s no guarantee that all this will work. Your product may just be a dog or your competition may be too strong. If the sales and marketing team have been dealt a bad hand, someone may need to make the decision to call it a day and move on to other opportunities. But before you decide to fold, make sure you’ve shuffled the deck one more time and exhausted all the revenue generation possibilities.
Hopefully these three techniques will be the trump card you need to kickstart product sales!