• How to Find Products that Sell Themselves

    David Falzani
    President of Sainsbury Management Fellows
    Visiting Professor at Nottingham Business School

    I increasingly look for products that sell themselves. After all, if your product or service does much of the sales work for you, then you have a business that can grow quickly and profitably.
    If you can, try to find products that adhere to the following 3 steps:

    1. Customer sees product: not as obvious as it sounds, getting a customer to actually preview your product is easier the simpler it is, or can be easily encapsulated.
    2. Customer ‘gets’ product: products that resonate with customers will always be self explanatory. The less you have to say the better.
    3. Customer wants product: the crucial part. If the product follows these steps with the minimal amount of intervention, then you may have something that lends itself to a scalable business (subject of course to the usual cost and supply issues).

    By contrast, there are products which have high educational and informational requirements. These have to be met before a customer is even in a position to decide whether it’s something they wish to buy. These sorts of products tend to be either new solutions in the marketplace, or have marginal USPs over the competitive products (think of all the failed “better mousetraps” launched over the years).

    If new in the market, the risk is always in being able to predict whether customers will change their current behaviour. Or, to put it another way, will they be bothered enough to listen to all the reasons they should change, and then still be bothered enough to make the actual purchase. I call these products high burden sales products. By no means a dead loss, they can nonetheless be onerous to grow. Many products and services rely on high burden sales pipelines. Much of the B2B technology market works in this way, and it is all fine if the eventual conversion rate of leads to sales is sufficiently high to warrant the investment (in a real sense, for both parties).

    However, if the conversion rate is too low for the time and money expended up to that point, or the USPs marginal, then a difficult future looms. Sometimes these situations are blamed on poor salesmanship. I’ve seen several technology businesses where the board believed that all that prevented success was getting ‘proper’ salespersons in, period. In actual fact, the product just did not resonate with the market and no amount of ‘push selling’ was going to change that fact.
    As a side note, the passage of a significant length of time can sometimes be the missing ingredient that fixes things. We’ve all seen products described as ‘solutions looking for a problem to solve’ and sometimes being too early in the marketplace can only be fixed by time (for example, smart cards took 20 years to become widely accepted).

    Today, I much prefer products or services that have an established purchasing behaviour which can be tapped into. Or, if a new and potentially disruptive technology, I look at whether the client propensity for purchase can be quickly validated, and once this has been done, the sales model can be successfully and quickly scaled.

    By looking at this established purchasing behaviour carefully or by soft launching a minimum viable product it is possible to maximise the chances of having an easy sale product.

    This blog was first published by Entrepreneur Country and has been reproduced with the editor’s permission.


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