Four Things to Remember When You Sell a Complex Product or Service
Here at Kayak, we work with all kinds of businesses, and not all of them have an easy time explaining what they do for customers.
There have always been highly technical companies, of course, but the need for them to market effectively has never been greater. That’s because the information age is leading to more and more specialization, where new companies are springing to life, helping businesses and consumers to meet needs that didn't even exist a few years ago.
But, how do you effectively sell what you produce or offer when most people don't know it exists and have a hard time understanding the benefits? Here are some great tips to help them see the value in putting together a great website or marketing plan for a complex product or service:
1Emphasize benefits over technical details. The big mistake technical companies make is burying prospects in details, when all they really want to know is why the product or service is important. For that reason, it's a good idea to emphasize broad benefits and outcomes over minute engineering specs and other facts. There might be a place for the details, but it usually isn't in your front-line marketing materials.
2Sell to multiple layers of an organization. Many technical businesses bypass that first step with the rationale that they sell mainly to engineers, IT support managers, and other experts who understand their products. That might be true, but the ultimate buying decisions are typically made by someone else in the organization (like a business owner or division VP). For that reason, it's important that you have materials that focus on big benefits so they have reasons to approve the purchase.
3Back up your most important claims. When people don't completely understand what you're offering, they become more skeptical of your claims and guarantees. Backing up big statements with case studies, instructional videos, and customer testimonials can go a long way towards building credibility. Again, these don't have to focus on detailed explanations of your products and services, just reinforce the real-world benefits.
4Justify the pricing and tried-and-tested ways. One of the classic hang-ups with technical solutions is that they are complex, innovative, and proprietary, meaning that you're asking the customer to pay a high price for something they don't fully comprehend. To get around this issue, emphasize what the purchase will cost your customer on a daily or monthly basis (rather than hitting them with a large "sticker price"). Or, put the cost in terms that are relative to their cost savings or increased profit margin.
5Address the competition carefully. Obviously, if you are the only business offering your product or service, you'll want to let customers know that fact. However, if you have competitors, think carefully about how you address them in your marketing pieces. For one thing, your buyers might not even realize that there are other providers out there, in which case you might not want to mention them at all, as it could slow down the sales process. If there is the chance that customers will shop around, make a point of showing your competitive strengths, but again in "big picture" terms: lower prices or operating costs, longer warranties, more performance guarantees, and so on. The last thing you want is your buyers comparing technical details that they don't understand between one company and another.
In the end, it isn't necessarily important for potential customers to understand everything about what you do; what’s more critical is that they come away with a firm grasp on the benefits of the product or service, and why they should consider buying from you. Most complex businesses still have – or should have – relatively simple value propositions. Find yours, and you'll find the key to selling something that would otherwise appear overwhelming to your potential customers.
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