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Key points

  • Make it about the customers.
  • Do your research before reaching out.
  • Define your buyer.
  • Contribute first, sell second.
  • Ask questions, and listen.
  • Be mindful of psychological quirks.
  • Hit an emotional high point.

All marketers from time to time, come across products that could be difficult to sell. While the ultimate goal of marketing is to target products at customers who are ready to buy, occasionally some products or services require additional push. So why don’t some good-quality, good-value items sell? There are obvious and not-so-obvious reasons:

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  • Not prominently displayed: Unless it’s a product heavily searched for, simply adding it to the catalogue doesn’t do the trick. If you want certain products to sell, you have to show them off.
  • Costs too much: Use lightly discounted pricing or comparison pricing to entice shoppers to learn about the item.
  • Costs too little: People often associate low pricing with cheap quality.
  • Product details are lacking: If you want people to buy a product, you have to tell them what it is, what it does, and how it solves a pain point.
  • Others aren’t talking: The lack of social sharing and discussion can also be a turn off.

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So what are ways to ensure that these unpopular and low in demand products sell?

Use comparison pricing

Don’t leave it to the shopper to compare. Show similar products side-by-side. The classic study of a bread machine sold by Williams-Sonoma is a prime example. In the 1990s, after consumer research, the company introduced a bread maker for $275. After it didn’t sell well, a marketing research firm recommended that Williams-Sonoma add a higher-priced item to the lineup. The more advanced machine retailed for over $400. The result? Sales of the lower-priced machine took off. That’s because consumers had nothing to compare the $275 against. Once the retailer introduced another model, it made more sense. This practice is called anchoring, and nearly all the big retailers use it to sell anything, from silverware to cars.

Convey Scarcity

Once you’ve communicated the value of your product, how do you encourage the prospect to buy? Without a sales call or conversation with the prospect, it can be challenging to communicate why they should buy now. To combat this, try offering a limited time offer or discount. For example:

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  • “Limited edition available while supplies last.”
  • “30% discount, this weekend only.”
  • “Last day! Buy (product name) and receive a free gift.”

Once you have closed the sale, you need to work on building brand loyalty to encourage repeat custom. You may consider offering free local delivery, free returns, or running promotional deals. Exclusive special offers to online customers won’t have too big an impact on your bottom line but can strengthen loyalty and improve customer satisfaction. Ensure that you are meeting the needs of existing customers. Seeking and responding to customer feedback at the point of sale and after they have used the product is a great way to improve sales, encourage repeat custom and improve your offering.

Make it about the buyer

The cardinal rule of sales is to always make it about your buyer. Every email you write, voicemail you leave, demo you give, and meeting you attend should place the focus squarely on the buyer. Constantly ask yourself, “What’s the relevance to this particular prospect?” and customize each interaction accordingly.

[READ ALSO: How to plug your spending leaks)

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Define your buyer

This might seem like a paradox, but the secret of selling anything to anybody is not attempting to sell just anything to just anybody.

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Whether you work in retail, auto sales, or B2B business you’ll have far more success if you’re familiar with the characteristics of your target buyers and thoroughly qualify each prospect against that matrix. This is called an ideal buyer profile, and it’s like having a secret weapon. By finding the specific type of “anybody” who is just right for your product or service, you’ll avoid wasting time on poor-fit leads. Instead, you’ll have more time to devote to buyers with a good chance of becoming customers.

Contribute first, sell second

Do not jump in with your pitch right off the bat. Position yourself as an advisor who wants to help, rather than a salesperson thirsty to sell. With this approach, you’ll find a more receptive audience when you finally get around to connecting their problem with your offering. In short: Always Be Helping.

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Ask questions, and listen

No matter how thoroughly you have researched your prospect, there will be gaps in your knowledge, and you won’t be able to help the buyer solve their issue if you don’t fully understand it. For this reason, it’s critical to ask thoughtful questions during your conversations – and a lot of them.

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Be mindful of psychological quirks

Our brains are wired to respond to certain situations in specific ways. Here are just a few of the quirks relevant to salespeople:

  • Anchoring effect: The information we receive first acts as an anchor against which we evaluate all further data.
  • Decoy effect: A third option can sometimes help people choose between two possibilities.
  • Rhyme-as-reason effect: Rhyming statements seem truer than non-rhyming ones.
  • Loss aversion: We react more strongly to the possibility of losing something we currently have than the possibility of gaining something we don’t.
  • Peak-end rule: People remember the end and a high point within a presentation more vividly than any other section.
  • Confirmation bias: We are more likely to accept information that aligns with our beliefs than contradictory evidence—no matter how compelling.
  • [READ ALSO: How to plug your spending leaks)

Identifying recent buyers

Sometimes sellers need to identify the most recent buyers—even if there is only a handful of them—and try to find other people in the same category. Once you find out who the buyers are in today’s market, you can expand on that.

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