How to Sell a Losing Product

You don’t sell the world’s best product or service. Well, maybe you do, but let’s pretend you don’t. Let’s say your product is lagging behind three others in your same market.

So how are you going to sell anything?

How can you possibly hope to position yourself against better products?

At some point (IRL) you will run into this problem. Maybe you are building a startup and believe that yours really is the best mouse trap. Undoubtedly, one day someone will tag you in a tweet (if Twitter’s still a thing by then) with a link to a company with more funding and more experience who came along and bested you.

I have never backed a company I didn’t believe in, but I have worked with products that weren’t clear frontrunners.

This is what I’ve learned:

#1 Know what matters

So your biggest competitors offer free shipping. You don’t. Ouch. But does free shipping matter to your client? Did you stop to think that maybe what you see as a roadblock is less than a speed bump to them?

When I worked in home security and automation, the technology I dealt with was pretty cutting edge. I kept up with other companies in the industry and found that there were still features we didn’t have yet.

Want to know how many potential customers turned me away because of those features? Zero.

I never once heard, “But those guys have X and you don’t.” We had a terrific system that provided peace of mind, and that’s all my customers really wanted.

#2 Be likable

A prospective buyer’s experience with you as a person has a huge impact on the decision making process. If you can make her look forward to work with you, she may not need to vet your three competitors.

Imagine you sell a new CRM, and you’re up against giants like Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics. You’re probably not going to beat them on price or total number of features. But maybe the buyer you’re working with values your down-to-earth approach and simple explanations.

Now you’ve stopped selling a CRM and begun solving her problem.

#3 Believe in your product

If you don’t think you sell something people should buy, quit.

I mean it.

If you’re good at sales or product development or marketing or any marketable skill, the world is your oyster. Don’t you dare waste your precious time selling something you don’t really want people to buy.

How can you expect someone to buy from you if you don’t believe your own pitch?

This doesn’t mean you can only work at Google. You don’t have to sell the perfect widget.

Guess what – the best today won’t always be the best tomorrow. Your company may become the industry leader. The big name competitors may go belly up. Nobody knows the future.

You can be happy selling a #2 product as long as you believe that #2 is good enough for your client.

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Despite its reputation to the contrary, I believe that sales can be a highly ethical field. We’re not all sharks and swindlers. We can sell cars with over 100k miles and not feel ashamed. Some people need what we’re selling, even if we aren’t all selling new Bugattis.

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