You’ve got your product arranged beautifully in your store. The doors are open, your Google Business profile is up-to-date and accurate, but your employees say they love coming into work in the peaceful atmosphere where they aren’t driven mad by people constantly trying to give them money. In short, nobody’s buying…why not?
One major possibility is that the products you’re selling don’t meet the needs of the customers you have. This can happen because you misgauged the market, or it can happen because customers are fickle. Either way, you have a business full of something that your existing customers don’t want, and it isn’t because they don’t know how great it is. They know how great it is, and they still don’t want it. There are really only two fixes for this one, and neither one is painless: either you find new customers (which is expensive) or you replace your stock (bad news…also expensive).
If you will sell me a car sound system for $500 and the guy across the street will sell me the same system for $500 and will also install it for me while I wait, from whom am I going to buy my car sound system? The reality is that almost no matter what marketplace you are in, it is a competitive space and there is always someone willing to do more work for the same money. This does not mean you are doomed to a race to the bottom, but it does mean you have to think about the value you provide and how you inform your customers that you provide it.
Sometimes it’s obvious (such as free or same day installation) but other times you need to educate your customers. For example, perhaps you have been in the car sound system business for thirty years and literally know everything there is to know about every single model, and are giving absolutely amazing advice to your customers, while the installer guy across the street started last week and he’s just ordering the first item from the catalog and blindly wiring it together. It’s up to you to convey to your customers that added value you provide.
Particularly for high-investment items like a new computer (or even more so, a car), a certain level of trust is often needed before customers are willing to commit to a purchase. Why do established new car dealerships survive for decades even when upstarts will underprice them by hundreds of dollars? Because those dealerships have established trust relationships with existing customers that bring the existing customers back for repeat transactions.
If you are selling items that carry a large psychological burden for your customers (because of their cost or the longevity of the product or some other reason), failing to establish trustworthiness can undermine or eliminate their willingness to buy. Earning trust is not always easy or quick, but initiatives like warranty programs or buy-back guarantees can create a positive first impression, while signaling longevity and stability (“thirty years in the same location!”) create a presumption of trustworthiness.
This one can be frustrating for customer and business owner alike. Your product meets their need. They see how valuable it is and how perfect it is for them. They want to buy it. They just don’t have the money. Well, you aren’t running a charity, but possibly you can find a way to solve this problem, particularly if your customer is running a business and using your product to make more money.
Offering financing can be a way to bridge the gap between the immediate sale and the ultimate payoff. Not all businesses and not all products are suitable for this sort of arrangement (don’t offer loans for consumable goods that you can’t repossess), but some are. If you lack the capital to self-fund such an operation, there are finance companies who are willing to partner with you.
This one is a combination of many other reasons. Your price is too high for the combination of product, service, and expertise that you offer, and other people are doing similar work or offering a similar product in a way that better meets customer needs. In short, you lack a unique value proposition, and for that reason you aren’t competitive in the market space you inhabit. There’s a simple, though incredibly difficult, fix: find a UVP and reorient your business around it. It’s hard advice, but necessary. There are no successful businesses that do not have a viable UVP, and if you don’t have one, your business will not succeed.
Also known as the Betamax Scenario, you have a quality product that’s competitive or even hyper-competitive…but the customers don’t realize it. You’re selling hand-made Belgian chocolate of a quality that makes the gods weep with envy, while the shop across the street is turning out mass-produced junk food at twice the price…yet they’re getting the business. There are two basic solutions to this problem.
One, you can engage in a long-term effort to educate your potential customers about the virtues of your product. Two, you can raise your prices. Yes, raise them—because human beings automatically associate price with value (whether or not there is an actual correlation). Triple your price per box, and advertise that fact, and suddenly the people crossing the street for the worse product will pause and re-evaluate their choices. This doesn’t always work, but if your product genuinely is better and this fact is discernible to customers who actually look into it, then sending that price signal can actually boost your sales.
We all know about the peril of overselling the customer— it’s why people hate used-car lots and telemarketers. There is an equal and opposite problem: underselling. It’s a tricky balance sometimes, but you have to find the right level of salesmanship to deploy. The exact balance depends on the industry you’re in and the people you are trying to sell to. Clothes shoppers want someone to tell them that they look great in that sweater, while people buying lumber want you to point them to the right stack and then get the heck out of the way. This is a problem that you can address with experimentation. Try upping your sales game a little bit (or a lot) and see if that starts to increase your numbers. If it doesn’t, try something else, and if it does, then you know that underselling was at least a component of the problem.
You could have a top-notch product and superior services, but without reviews from existing customers, you’re likely to lose business to competitors. Download our free guide below on how to get positive online reviews for your business.