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How to sell products that are low in demand or unpopular

While the ultimate goal of marketing is to target products at customers who are ready to buy, occasionally products or services require additional push.



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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:

[READ ALSO: How to plug your spending leaks)

  • 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:

  • “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)

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.

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.

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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How MSMEs can get easy access to finance

MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.



How MSMEs Can Get Easy Access to Finance

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.

One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.

Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.

In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:

1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.

2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.

3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.

4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.

5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.

Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.

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AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.



AFEX to partner with FMDQ and Dubai Commodities Exchange, 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities agric funding initiative

AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.

This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.

READ: AFEX partners FMDQ, Dubai Commodities Exchange to deepen markets opportunities

Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.

“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.

“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’

He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”

READ: CBN to increase loans to agricultural sector to 10% of total bank credit

Why it matters

  • The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
  • With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.

What you should know

  • AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
  • As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.

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