A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham McGregor: So what do you really sell?

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Many years ago I was listening to a well-known business speaker talking about sales success.

And one comment he made in his talk made a lasting impression on me.

He said that it's vital to know what you are 'really selling' from your customer's viewpoint.

In other words 'what are 'all' the results or benefits the customer enjoys from purchasing what you offer?'

The speaker gave an example of a home cleaning company that was struggling to improve their sales results.

The main service this company offered was to clean the inside of your home on a regular basis.

However they had hundreds of competitors who offered a similar cleaning service.

The cleaning company then asked themselves and their customers a simple question.

'What are we really selling from our customer's viewpoint?'

They discovered that their customers certainly enjoyed having a lovely clean home that looked great.

However many customers commented that by having someone else clean their home they had a much more important benefit. They now had hours of extra free time that they could use to do more enjoyable things with.

The cleaning company decided to change what they were selling.

They now sold 'extra leisure time to busy professionals and executives'.

Sales exploded as a lot of busy people loving the idea of having extra leisure time.

In your own business it could be useful to think about what you sell and see if there are a number of benefits that your customers enjoy that could be helpful to mention in your marketing.

And spend some time thinking about how you can explain these benefits in a way that customers can understand easily.

One way you might do this is to compare what you sell with something else that a potential customer already understands.

Here is a good example:

I met with the owner of an innovative IT company called WorkGroup Resources www.workgroup.co.nz recently.

Graeme Binsted (the owner) explained how he had helped a number of medium sized businesses to streamline their business and work flow processes.

Graeme was having a bit of difficulty explaining 'how' his service worked in a way that potential customers could easily understand and relate to.

After hearing what Graeme did for his clients I realised that part of his service was showing potential clients the 'invisible bottlenecks' they had in their business processes.

Graeme made these 'invisible bottlenecks' highly visible so clients could now see clearly the huge amount of wasted time and money they were losing each month.

(For a number of medium to large sized businesses these bottlenecks are often costing them several hundred thousand dollars a year in wasted time and money.)

Until his clients 'see this problem clearly it is unlikely that they will invest in any of Graeme's recommended IT solutions.

I suggested to Graeme that when he talks to potential clients that he introduces his IT service as being a bit like a 'thermal imaging camera that finds money and time.'

Now a normal thermal imaging camera can show clearly where heat is being lost in any building.

And once you see clearly where this heat is escaping from in your building you can take steps to fix your 'heat loss' problem.

However heat loss in a building is normally invisible unless you use something like a thermal imaging camera to make it easy to see.

What Graeme's service does is like a thermal imaging camera that helps a client to see clearly the invisible bottlenecks in their business processes that are costing them a huge amount of wasted time and money.

And once a client can 'see clearly' this huge amount of lost money and wasted time they are experiencing in their business they are suddenly in a much better position to solve this costly problem.

There are also many other ways that Graeme could explain his IT services in a way that potential customers would find interesting.

The idea in this column is that is often a variety of benefits that your customers enjoy by using your products and services.

And it can be helpful to explain these benefits in a way that makes what you offer a little bit more interesting to potential customers.

'Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.'

Paul Hawken

Action Exercise:

What do your customers enjoy as a result of buying your product or service?
Which of these benefits could it be helpful to mention in your marketing?

Graham McGregor is a consultant specialising in memorable marketing. You can download his 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage' Ebook at no charge from www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com

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A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham has had 36 years 'hands on' experience in sales and marketing. He has sold a range of services including advertising, sales training, personal development, life insurance, IT services, investment property and business consulting services.

Read more by Graham McGregor

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