Jun 22, 2020 • Podcast

How do I sell unfamiliar products and services?

Paul shares three tips to help you sell an unfamiliar product or service

Show Notes:

Selling something new and unknown is challenging. “Most people like to stick with what is familiar and proven.”

Focus on selling to the innovators and the early adopters. These two categories represent about 16% of the population.

“Your unknown product had better solve a known problem.” The mommy hook is a great example.

“Anytime a product solves a problem, there is a profit to be had.”

Social proof is key. “Social proof demonstrates how others have implemented your ideas successfully.”


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How do I sell unfamiliar products and services?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we have a question that came to us from the website. Just a reminder, make sure you visit TheQandASalesPodcast.com. Ask us a question. This is proof positive that we’re going to turn it into a show.

Actually, on today’s show, we’re going to talk about proof as well. The question is “How do I sell an unknown product?” When you think about an unknown or an unfamiliar product, that does create some challenges. People typically like to buy something that they’re familiar with; something they feel comfortable with. On today’s show, we’re going to address that challenge.

Before we get into answering that question, a quick word for our sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea’s team has been supporting The Q and A Sales Podcast from the very beginning. And now she’s offering her popular Launch Your Podcast class online. It’s via Zoom. It’s going to be Thursday, July 9th at 7:00 PM Central Time. Experts say podcasting is the next big thing in marketing, and now is the best time to launch your show. But how do you know if a podcast is right for you? In this class, you’ll find out what it takes to extend your reach, build community, and establish thought leadership with podcasting. Andrea is going to give you a behind-the-scenes look and share five tips to help you sound like a pro from the start. The first fifteen people to sign up by July 2nd will get in free. You can register at TheCreativeImposter.com/QandALaunch. We’re going to have a link to that on this show’s webpage as well.

Also, pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. A couple of the key concepts that we’re going to talk about today are in the book. So pick it up. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

Let’s get into that question. How do I sell an unknown, unfamiliar product to a new buyer (or a new customer or whatever it might be). When you think about the challenge we face, most people like to buy something that is proven. They want to buy something that is proven so that it works. They’re comfortable with it; they’re familiar with it. We’ve talked a lot about loss aversion on this show. People hate to lose more so than they love to win. One thing people hate losing is their money. If they’re going to throw away money on a new product that is unproven, that might not work, man… that seems risky. So, we’re going to give you a couple of tips and ideas on how to get past that. Granted, this show could be an entire series on how to sell an unknown product, but we want to give you at least three things to think about when you’re selling an unknown product.

The first tip: focus on the right targeted prospect or customer. When I think about this, I think of Everett Rogers’ famous book, Diffusion of Innovations. In his book he talks about the Adopter categories. And this is how innovation is adopted in a society/in a group. He said that the very first to adopt a new idea are called the innovators. Then you’ve got the early adopters. Then you have the early majority, then the late majority, and then you have the laggards. The laggards are obviously the last to accept a new innovation or new technology, whatever it might be.

When you think about this, you’re selling a new unknown product. Are you going to try to start with the laggards; the people that usually buy something last (that new technology)? No, of course not. You’re going to start with the innovators. The innovators represent about 2.5 percent of the population. And that’s for an individual. So if you’re selling to an individual, think about who those innovators are. These are going to be venturesome people that are willing to take risks. They’re okay with losing out occasionally or making a bad decision as long as they can be the first. If you’re selling to individuals, focus on that type of individual to sell to.

Now, that only represents about 2.5 percent, so it’s a pretty small group. The early adopters, are going to be the thought leaders in any industry or within their social group. This group is not willing to take as much risk as the innovators, but they’re definitely willing to take some risks. They want to be there early. This group represents about 13.5 percent of the population. If you’re selling to individuals, you want to look for this combined group. Thirteen and a half plus 2.5… Sixteen percent. Math was never my strong suit. But you’re looking at that 16 percent—that one out of six—that slice of the market that is willing to buy something new. Make sure that you’re focusing on the right people.

Now, if you’re selling to organizations, you’ve got to think about the organization itself. Is it an innovative organization? Are they forward thinking? Are they willing to take risks? Those are the types of companies that are going to be more open to a new product or an unknown product. So, tip number one, make sure you’re focusing on those innovators and those early adopters. Focus on those companies that are willing to take risks; willing to innovate and to try new things. Because it appeals to them, they’re willing to take that risk. So you’ve got to get the target group right.

The second tip when you’re selling an unknown product: think about the problem that it solves. An unknown product better solve a known problem. When I think about this, I’m thinking of a product called the Mommy Hook. If you don’t have children out there, or maybe even if you do, you maybe have never heard of this product. Maybe it’s an unknown product. Let me show you the problem. When you first start having kids, you’ve got the stroller, and then you’ve got three other piles of crap that you have to carry around with you. You’ve got bags of stuff. It’s amazing all the things you need when you’re going around with your kids.

So here’s what the Mommy Hook is. It’s a hook that you place on the end of the stroller that will allow you to pile up bags: someone’s purse, a murse if you’ve got the man-purse going. You’re able to just attach those things to the stroller using the Mommy Hook. Now, if you say the term Mommy Hook, it’s a new product. It was an unknown product when it came out. Really, all it does is it solves a common problem; a problem that anyone carrying a stroller with all the kids and all the stuff… It’s solves that problem. It’s basically a fabricated carabiner that’s used for mountain climbing. But someone had the idea to solve that problem. Think about your product. If you’re selling an unknown product, it better solve a known problem. Anytime a product solves a problem, there’s profit to be had. Make sure you know what problem you’re solving.

And finally, the third thing: social proof is going to be key. Social proof demonstrates how others have implemented your ideas, or your solution, and how they’ve been successful with it. When you think about it, this is the benefit of having thought leaders in your industry or an account that’s already used this product and they’ve had some success. It’s like sharing success stories with [about] your product.

I’ll give you an example of how social proof works. Last year around this time, I was at a Golf Galaxy just killing 20, 30 minutes. I was looking at some new clubs; I was looking at driving irons. This is when Tiger Woods started using it. It was kind of the new hot club. So I’ve heard of the driving iron. I was at Golf Galaxy and I saw one of my friends there. This is a friend who I respect their opinion, especially when it comes to golf. This particular friend has a very low handicap, so I know that they’re a really good golfer. And, also, they always seem to have the newest, latest and greatest equipment out there.

And so I’m over by the driving irons. I’m showing them what kind of driving iron I’m going to get, and he says, “Have you ever thought about getting one of those new hybrid crossover irons?” And I said, “Well, I’ve never even really heard of them. What are they?” And he showed me. There was one in particular called the Ping Hybrid Crossover. He was showing it to me and he said, “Look at it. It’s a little bit more forgiving than the driving iron. It’s kind of a cross between a hybrid club and a driving iron. So it’s right in the middle of those two things.” I had never heard about this club beforehand. And then he said, “I’ve been using it for weeks, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s such a great club. You can use it for so many different things off the tee and the fairway. If you’re going to buy one of these driving irons, I would consider this one first.”

That was social proof right there. Someone who I respected—someone whose opinion I valued—shared some insights and ideas about a product that I had never heard of. Obviously, I ended up buying the club and I love it; absolutely love it. That’s an example of social proof. Think about in business context how that can work, going out there trying to sell this new product. Look for opportunities to build up case studies, some success stories that you can then share with other people. Try to implement those case studies or success stories in companies that are highly respected. Think about market leaders. Think about those innovators that you’re selling to. Be able to prove your success with them, and that’s going to open up new opportunities for you for the rest of the masses.

Those are your three tips today. Again, [Number one:] focus on the right target prospect. Number two: your unknown product better solve a known problem. And number three: social proof is going to be key.

Make it a big day.

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