I wrote last week about the challenges professional services companies have in getting their true worth in fees and suggested some strategies that might help. https://www.alecwdrew.com/post/why-aren-t-we-getting-our-full-price
Today, I want to look at products and ask some challenging questions that I believe all sellers should ask themselves. I know we are in a lockdown and the challenges that poses for so many but equally it has made many companies think outside the box and come up with innovative ways of delivering their products. Equally I am aware of Brexit and the additional challenges that poses but rather than bemoan the situation it is better to use that energy to find creative ways of engaging your customers. I will not get into online marketing as it is such a vast area and there are those much more qualified than I am to talk about it. However, I will say this from the customer perspective, TIP – please try your own service, buy something as if you were a stranger and experience what your company has to offer from initial engagement to receipt of product. Now try and return it or introduce one of the problem you hear your sales team talking about and see how it is dealt with. Contact your own business online using a pseudo name and email address, try to ring customer service or have a chat online. I firmly believe that if more people from senior management completed this exercise their customers would benefit greatly and so would their sales.
And please stop trying to get my details the minute I show an interest in your products. For example I tried recently to download a product brochure from a company and was not allowed to do so without entering my contact details, needless to say I left the site and now cannot remember who they were. If you go onto my website www.alecwdrew.com I will try to capture your details, but if you do not want to give them you still have access to all of my free tools and tips.
How easy do you make it for customers to buy your product? I am a big fan of Harry’s, the mens grooming company. I particularly like the razor blades and shaving foam but they cannot be bought in Ireland. They are UK based so sell in that market, the US and Canada but you cannot order them here in Ireland. Up until recently I used Parcel Motel which got around the problem but Brexit has stopped that. I contacted Harry’s customer care team over a lost parcel which they resolved with upmost speed and courtesy. I asked about supplying me directly but they said that they still cannot sell to me in Ireland and even admitted that they had other customers here using Parcel Motel. I now have a solution, my son takes delivery of my orders in London and ships them. Now you may be saying what is the purpose of this story which is – I want to buy these products, I like them so much that I am having to go to extraordinary lengths to get them and yet the company cannot respond. What barriers are you placing in the way of customers buying your products?
Now let’s talk price. As I have illustrated in the last story price is not the issue when the product is right. Apple and other recognised brands have built an empire on products that maybe perceived as over priced compared to similar offerings but their customers wanted them so price was not an issue. You may be retailing groceries which is a price sensitive market place and yet the corner shop or local small supermarket can live side by side with the large multiples even though they are more expensive. They offer convenience and so shoppers will pay a premium for that.
You could be selling widgets that are price sensitive but are you going to compete on price or could you provide something the large suppliers cannot compete with. TIP This could be visits to local buyers, demonstrations on new ways of using their products or sales seminars on how to up sell to their customers. What I would like you to think of is what can you do to make yourselves different.
If we explore price further, it is driven by many factors including availability, cost to stock, cost to supply and this begs the question, are you getting a fair margin on your products. Do you know exactly what each item costs, the best sellers against the slow sellers, the margins on each, which lines you should drop, what items are obsolete and other such questions relevant to your industry. Modern technology can provide such information that is up to date and yet I meet so many business owners who do not invest in systems that would not only make their business more efficient but also much more profitable. Unfortunately, they see this money as a spend rather than an investment in productivity. What systems are you using and how up to date are they?
I was talking with a client who has developed a new way of tracking stock which is drawing attention from those with large product ranges and/or large volumes of stock. This is the future as the information provided gives valuable insights into all of the metrics companies use to drive efficiencies. TIP You may not be technically minded so get an IT specialist either in-house or as a consultant, ask them to research new technologies relevant to your sector.
Let me finish by saying that too many business owners and senior managers are so tied to the coal face that they do not take time to stand back and look at the technologies available that might free up more time. If you would like to know more schedule a call, it may free up time that could be invested more wisely.