15 December 2016 Category: Blog
Much of the work we do is with what we call ‘challenger’ products, that is a product that is (or pertains to be) completely new. Whether or not you have, or might have, a product that fits this description you should read on - there’s a little of something for everyone in this article, particularly in the second section.
Kevin Byrne, Senior Business Development Manager
In this post, first we'll explore the particular challenges in selling ‘the new’. And in the subsequent section, rather than covering AGAIN the conventional characteristics of a telemarketing call (opening, features and benefits, objections, closing) we will look at the emotional triggers (important with both ‘the new’, and/or the unknown), which individuals may be susceptible to those triggers, and how to spot them.
Section 1: Selling ‘The New’ - Educational
Firstly a quick definition, (and no, this is not semantics), of what new really is, or to put it another way, what is ‘real’ new and what is ‘fake’ new. It matters because the selling approach is different in each case.
There are fewer ‘real’ new products than you think - most products are enhancements or replacements. Someone like Apple does ‘real’ new all the time - did we know that we needed the iPod, the iPad or the Watch? Comparison sites like Trivago or comparethemarket.com also gave us something we didn’t have before, and many software products also do this in a small, incremental way.
Your selling challenge here is conceptual - people don’t know they need this product, they don’t understand what it can do for them, any pain point they have may be unknown. If you look at it another way, based on a traditional sales lead model such as BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), there’ll be no budget or timing, as they don’t know about it, and the need will have to be explained to them. Only Authority, who CAN buy it, may be something you can identify.
Why is this important? Because telemarketing works on impact - the first ‘golden minute’ - and you are giving yourself a lot of ground to cover in that time. You need to explain the product, explain why they need it, and move into selling mode to continue the call.
If it is a replacement or enhancement, then your challenge is to highlight the deficiencies and shortcomings of the existing product, but also to understand whether they represent a real pain point for the business. Imagine there is a watch that stays accurate for 100 years, and you have one that stays accurate for a million years - it’s a whole different paradigm of timekeeping technology. But do people need it?
How do you address this?
Decide if your product is ‘real’ new or ‘fake’ new, and plan your approach accordingly.
If it’s ‘real’ new, think about splitting the call - doing the concept and explanation first, maybe followed by some extra information or product collateral - and then a second call to sell to them.
If you are going to do it in one call, focus on the benefits (see the Golden Minute again), and bluntly, gloss over the ‘explanation’ of the product piece of the call. If they say ‘I need more information’ or ‘I don’t understand’, that’s an engagement signal, so you can go on with the call.
If it’s ‘fake’ new, your job is to get inside the products that you are looking to replace or enhance so pre-research is a must. But, if that’s not enough, then you might consider the two-call approach again - the first call positioned as market research, understanding how the products you are challenging are used, perceived, purchased and so on.
BUT here’s a further clue - selling the ‘new’ creates a differing range of emotions to those evoked by sales leads projects, and you may be able to take advantage of these in a way that isn’t possible with conventional telemarketing campaigns.
Section 2 - Selling ‘The New’ - Emotional
Can you create a cachet to this product? Are there messages about being an early adopter or a way to create a sense exclusivity within your target audience?
Companies that see themselves as market leaders may be susceptible to this approach which, we believe, may also work well with marketing people.
Is your product going to give competitors a key advantage? Or, can you highlight a hidden risk to the business that people may not be aware of?
Although it might apply to any business, companies in regulated environments are likely to be more receptive and conversely, also companies in highly commoditised businesses, where a small incremental product advantage may just make the difference.
It goes without saying that compliance people may be susceptible but, depending on the product, Finance and IT are the other obvious target functions for the fear factor.
If it’s a new product, particularly if it’s ‘real’ new, it’s not beyond belief that people might be interested in it. This can be more about how the proposition is expressed, the words used and approach adopted, and about the demeanour of the person making the call.
Again, depending on the product, this emotion may evoke a response in the ‘creative’ parts of the business, or equally in IT, especially where there is a product innovation or development function. Curiosity is a good IT department’s lifeblood.
We often find, particularly in IT again, that people like new toys. I used to work in a software selling environment where we used to have little products like ‘debuggers’ for £20-£25, typically 5-10% of the order value. We could add 2-3% to sales fairly effortlessly so a demo, or an element of trial product is always useful and, if it's ‘real’ new, back it up with materials that show how to get the best out of the product.
The Brand, the Look, the Feel
It helps if you are Apple, IBM, Amazon, Google, Harrods, Hermes, Mercedes… If you are, please feel free to call us.
But if not, it’s important to present with confidence and aplomb, as if you were one of these brands. Yes, this is common sense but think about carrying it forward into your sales message - the choice of words, the whole tone of the call needs to reflect the confidence and belief in your product, as if you were one of the commercial giants I have mentioned above.
What’s not here?
Most importantly – PRICE. In the ‘real’ new, very little discussion is about price and even in the ‘fake’ new, the arguments that have the most resonance are competitive advantage, convenience, compliance - non-financial factors. Honestly, money comes later…
What’s going to stop us?
The biggest enemy to the NEW is INERTIA. Most businesses are probably doing OK without your product. Change is hassle and people are lazy, cautious, fearful, or all three. So, what can you do?
Most importantly - BREAK THE CHANGE DOWN. When people are faced with something new or unknown, their natural instinct is to go slowly. If it’s possible, make it about small steps e.g.
- “We’re not selling the product at this stage, just identifying companies where it might fit”
- “We can set you up with a trial - no obligation at this stage”
- “Why don’t you come and look at this working at another company similar to yours?”
In each case, you are getting them to make a less painful ‘baby step’, but a step forward nonetheless. When you engage with them at this basic level, you’ll start to understand what combination of lazy, cautious and fearful you are facing, and deal with it accordingly.
This information has been distilled from many campaigns over a long period, although the message is relevant for all campaigns.
BUT, if you are selling ‘The New’, we are the people to call.