Sell at a higher price

Igor Pauletič / / Sales

Practically every salesperson I know tries to justify his lack of success with the fact that his offer wasn’t competitive enough. If he had set the right price, he wouldn’t have had any problems. I’m not saying price isn’t an important factor in the buying decision, but it’s definitely not the ultimate one.

I’ve personally come to realize that there are two factors more important than price. The only two, I believe.

Convenience (of purchase)

It’s hard to provide a simple explanation of what convenience means to customers in theory alone. But it’s very easy to explain it with a few concrete examples. If you’re using the Revolut or N26 app, it sends you a push notification every time you cross the national border, suggesting that you sign up for travel insurance. To make your decision easier, it even promises you that everything will be done automatically. From charging you the amount due to signing you out once you return home. All you need to do is press a button. It’s so convenient you won’t even think about checking out what other insurance companies, like Generali, Vzajemna, and Triglav, have to offer.

Amazon developed its Dash Button a few years ago for the same reason. The idea was to simplify ordering products frequently used by households. Alexa was also probably created for the same reason. The imperative is no longer a single-click purchase; people now want to shop without a click altogether. 

The decision to develop Amazon Prime also went in the direction of increasing customer convenience. It’s not just about free shipping and express delivery. Now the technology has even come so far that it can predict regular customers’ needs and send them products without their even placing an order. If they don’t accept the products, they can return them to the Amazon warehouse free of charge.

I would personally also include all efforts related to servitization and other business model modifications in the category of enhancing purchase convenience. Business schools teach about Rolls-Royce’s aero-engine business model and how the company is selling its aero engines to aircraft producers, along with maintenance, spare parts, and consumables per air mile. In turn, most of us probably experience servitization best through cloud computing. It used to be that we’d buy software and servers and pay IT specialists to make things run smoothly, but today software producers do all of that for us and enable us to use that same software for a monthly fee. Based on how much we use it . . . 

Servitization reduces risk for the customer and simplifies use of the product, while increasing value for the provider. Even though this initiative developed as a response to the pressure of commodization, customers readily accepted it especially because it simplifies things for them and offers them greater flexibility. I think all of this increases customer convenience.

Anything that reduces the demand for customer loyalty, increases customer flexibility, and ultimately reduces financial risk enhances convenience for both consumers and B2B customers. Convenience is much more than just permanent optimization of the user experience.

Relationship

The customer relationship is another factor that may be even more important than price. You probably know the story about salespersons that use their connections to sell their products. To distance yourself from reflecting on the risks of corruption and how easy it is to buy things with someone else’s money, ask yourself why you always use the same hairdresser, beauty salon, lawyer or insurance agent. Because they know you and know what you need and like, and because you trust them. Doesn’t all this fall under “relationship”?

I think a relationship is built on communication. Whenever I spend a week on vacation with my wife, our relationship is at a considerably higher level than it will be after three weeks of work when we come back from vacation, when we manage to communicate for maybe half an hour a day, usually in the evenings. And even then we mostly talk about the logistics surrounding the kids and filling up the fridge.

This is no ancient wisdom. Salespersons know they need to build a relationship with their customers. The more successful they are at that, the greater influence they have on their customers.

The key problem of today’s “instant” world is that unfortunately there is increasingly less physical contact with customers and increasingly less personal communication. Ever more content reaches customers via digital channels, which are increasing in number by the day. Never before has there been so much communication noise and never again will there be less than there is today. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

In the past, lunches and membership in hunting clubs or choirs used to be the key, but in the future the ability to build a relationship will depend significantly more on how you can overcome this communication noise. The myriad of content and communication channels has led to the point where context awareness has become the key marketing and sales skill. Over the past ten years, everything has been about the magnificent power of content or content marketing, but now you need to brace yourselves for a period when this is going to be replaced by context marketing. Businesses will depend on how skillful they are in identifying the right moment with the right person for sending him or her the right message through the right communication channel to the right screen. This is the only way they will be able to communicate so that customers recognize the value of this communication. Without this, marketing and sales will soon become limited to the physical world, word of mouth, and building relationships the way we used to. Without context management technology, businesses will become limited to an ever-shrinking range of opportunities. The longer they wait, the smaller chance of success they will have. This is sad, but inevitable.

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