Selling The Invisible

I just returned from the winter workshop of the National Speakers Association. It is a great opportunity to renew friendships, share ideas, and hear the latest buzz. I had particularly been looking forward to the Saturday morning keynote, delivered by Harry Beckwith, the author of “Selling The Invisible.”

If you haven’t read Harry’s book, I strongly recommend it. Although a large percentage of our business economy is based on selling goods and services that you can’t hold in your hand, such as insurance, investment counseling, and other professional services, the principles are certainly relevant to physical products as well.

Harry stated that there are four main issues you must manage in order to achieve success in “Selling The Invisible.”

1. Price

Price is important, but not in the way you may think. Price denotes value. Therefore, if you sell at a low price, then your value is perceived as low. If you sell at a substantially higher value, then your value is perceived as high. People naturally desire to buy high quality.

Taking this concept further, studies have shown that a client will be intrigued by a 25 percent price difference. They see this price decrease as a significant saving and may justify a lesser quality in order to save the money. If your prices are 5, 10, or even 15 percent lower, then odds of making the sale do not increase. You will only be giving up profits.

If you want to use price to help convey value you must be more then 25 percent higher then your competition. Remember, price alone does not determine value. Your perceived value will also be conveyed through the level of service you deliver, as well as the other features and benefits of doing business with you.

2. Brand

What are you known for? What reputation do you or your company have in the market place? A brand is a promise that you make with the market. When someone chooses you and your service, they should know what they are going to receive.

Think of your brand as your reputation. Then the question is, “How do you grow your reputation?” If you work on developing and strengthening your brand, the value of your business will grow.

One way of conveying to the market place what you do is through stories. Don’t just tell people how great you are, how wonderful your service is, and the fantastic results you will help your clients achieve. Tell stories about actual experiences that your clients have had working with you. People relate to stories, and they learn from stories. Stories are believable, and are a very powerful way to make a point.

Use stories in your marketing efforts, and you will build your brand.

3. Packaging

How are you visually communicating with your clients? What does your office look like? How do you dress? Are your letters and other printed materials presenting the image that you should be sending?

Everything about you and your organization should present a great first impression. Your “packaging” has a direct correlation to your perceived value.

Look at your competition and the industry in which your work. What type of packaging do they use? How do they dress? What do their presentations look like? What is the quality of their web sites, printed materials, and any other collateral marketing materials?

Once you have a good grasp on what everyone else is doing, you are in a great position to determine if you are on the right track, or if you need to make any course corrections.

4. Relationship

What are your relationships with your clients and prospects like? Relationships are built over time and through service. When your clients call you, how long does it take for you to return their call? What type of commitment does this response time show your clients?

What do you sacrifice for your clients? Do you give them time, attention, and assistance? How do you welcome them when they call, or when you meet with them? What are you doing to show your clients the level of importance they hold?

These are tough questions, but the answers to these questions will reveal how you are building relationships, and they will identify possible shortcomings.

People like to be valued. We want to feel important. Invest the time and energy to make each client and prospective client feel important, and they will show tremendous loyalty to you.

Focus on these four areas, and you will be on the road to being accountable for your organization’s success!


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