We are no longer buying unknown products; gone are the days when a salesperson can sell you a product/service you have never heard off. With the emergence of the internet, we have all the information in the world at our fingertips.
We can quickly research and compare any product in front of us; therefore, if we encounter a product/service which we haven't heard of before, the first thing we do is pull out our phone and "google it."
With that in mind, having a great sales team is only part of the equation. Building awareness, interest, and desire for your product/service is marketing's responsibility, so irrespective of how amazing your sales team is, if they are not supported by great marketing they will fail.
For example, let's look at the Solar industry. A sales representative may initiate the first contact, but no one buys solar roof panels on the spot. Most consumers will hear the salesperson out, but probably only remember 10% of the conversation (e.g., solar will save you X dollars per month).
The consumer will then go online and do some research - this is where your marketing material will either make or break the sale. Without a doubt, your potential customer will check your website, Yelp reviews, and research alternatives. In other words, your solar panels are being bought and not sold.
Obviously, the larger the price tag, the more research the consumer will do but don't be fooled into thinking that selling inexpensive items is any different.
You Cannot Build A Great Business Without A Great Brand
What do Google, Nike, Patron, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple, L'Oreal, and Gillette have in common? They have such a strong brand that it cannot be separated from the product itself.
Google is synonymous with Search, Nike with Athletic Shoes, Patron with Tequila, Coca-Cola with Soft drinks, Starbucks with Coffee, Apple with Smartphones, L'Oreal with Makeup, and Gillette with Razors.
We all know that building a brand is difficult and time-consuming, but once you establish your brand, it is your greatest asset.
Even if you are a small business owner, you have to focus on building your brand. Let’s remember that all Fortune 500 companies started out as small businesses; therefore, if you are a small business owner, start by establishing your brand in the city (or part of the town) you are doing business in. Once you establish your brand in a small region, then focus on establishing it in the bigger area, and so on. Of course, there are exceptions but for most businesses building a brand is about small incremental steps that add up to something significant (true brand recognition). The same applies to growing your brand online (e.g on social media). Start by focusing on building a small loyal following (e.g. 1,000 followers), then focus on building a larger audience (e.g. 10,000), and so on.
Building a brand takes time, but it is imperative because you cannot build a great business without a great brand
Are You Soft Selling Or Hard Selling?
Most businesses will not admit to hard-selling, because when we think of "hard selling," we think of car salesmen. However, some companies don't even realize that they are hard selling. For instance, if most of your online content has the sole purpose of converting a lead into a customer, then you are hard selling. For example, if most of your social media posts are asking a user to buy or sign-up, then you are hard selling. On the other hand, if 90% of your content is useful and helpful, and 10% is intended to convert, then you are soft selling.
You have to keep reminding yourself that products and services are bought and not sold; therefore, hard selling is ineffective and highly discouraged. Of course, hard selling can result in short-term gains, but you cannot build a great business and a brand by hard selling.
The bottom line is, no one wants to feel like they've been "sold to"!
Consumers Will Happily Spend Money On Experiences, But Not Things
To fully grasp the idea of why products and services are bought and not sold, you have to understand this concept. For example, Patagonia sells outdoor clothing, but if you look at their marketing efforts (e.g., Website or Instagram), you will notice that most of their photos are of people enjoying outdoors - with no product shots in sight. Also, if you look at Patagonia’s website, all hero images (large web banner images) are focusing on experiences. Clearly, Patagonia understands that they are in the business of selling experiences and not things.
Patagonia's Instagram (last 3 posts)
If you sell “things,” you can only win on price or specs. However, if you sell a great experience you can command a higher price, and customers will be happy to pay for it because people are willing to spend more on experiences; so remember to sell experiences, not things.
You have to treat customers with the respect they deserve. Assume they are educated on the product/service you are offering, or if they are not, they will quickly get up to speed. In other words, there is no such thing as a quick sale in today's digital world.