Many startup product ideas are securing funding. This is inspiring to see as most of their founders discuss seem confident about changing something about our markets and the future itself. These ideas tickle our fancy and can be the “next big” thing. However, the real challenge comes when it’s time to sell them to the real bosses; the customers.
Selling itself can be an uphill task when your target audience is a real person. Let’s be honest. People will put down anything on surveys and polls. It doesn’t change the outcome that human behaviors can be very unpredictable, especially when it comes to parting away with valuable things like money. Businesses that think about themselves only are setting themselves up for huge challenges in sales success.
To minimize sales failure businesses need to build better products that will make selling easier for the sales team. Simple! Build a product that sells itself. But how? In a world of scarce resources, you need to get things right before going to the market.
How to Build Products that Sell:
- Define your Product Mission
- Involve the Customers
- Develop a Prototype/MVP
In this discussion, we showcase three strategies to help you build products that sell in the market.
- Define your product mission
Do not fall into the trap of creating another startup just yet. You need to be able to fill a vacuum. It doesn’t have to be like Amazon or Alibaba. You don’t even need to be crazy enough to create your own universes like Google and Facebook. Don’t be too obsessed about having their kind of products. Rather than imitate the outcomes of these businesses it is best to adopt their processes. Hence, begin by having a mission. For example, Amazon is focused on the customer, and Google is focused on the user. These businesses have their philosophies around people, not just the product.
A mission helps you craft better and more compelling offerings your customers will love. It will also help your team adopt a learning orientation to product development and sales. They will strive to innovate and improve for the sake of the customers and even for the sake of trying different possibilities.
Sometimes, customers themselves are confused about what’s best. They expect businesses to lead in those innovative thoughts.
In cases where a business tries new things out of the box [win or lose], due to its charismatic history of success and customer focus, customers are likely to trust and even forgive them. Take, for instance, the several backlashes suffered by Microsoft for its Windows Vista operating system released in 2007.
Your business is definitely out to do something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be different or newsworthy but it must be better and worth the purchase. So what is this product out to achieve for customers? Who are these customers? Where are they? How does this mission impact their life? What will buying a product from you mean to them, their goals, and their life purpose?
A product should be able to serve the immediate functional purpose for which it has been bought. It would also be better if it can add some emotional value and even social value. A phone can make calls. But it can also serve as a status symbol for its users who are likely to command respect and even attain a sense of belonging with other owners by simply owning it.
Humans love to join something bigger than themselves. So why not make your product mean more to them? Your product can also be one out of the books. There are markets where “quality” is just a serious mess. You could design it for people who just want value for their money; people who do not care about joining anything “grand”. “I just wanna buy something and see it work!” There’s a market for every business.
You want a loyal community, not just buyers. When you properly define your product mission for customers, markets and societies, you are able to stand whatsoever challenge the market throws at you. You will be able to improve and refine your product to match the standards you have set for yourself in that mission document.
2. Involve the Customers
Now your production is tied to a mission. You need to consult your potential customers. Be proactive enough to request polls, surveys, and feedback focused on them. There’s always something to learn from customer interactions. You could also observe their opinions on online communities. Use insights from these observations to furnish your product idea. See what you need to improve upon. See what motivates top giants in your industries and even your competitors. When a business is customer-focused they tend to be more innovative and proactive. Observe how customers have been using your previous products if you have any or pay attention to how they’ve been doing things before. There are possibilities that they’ll pay anything for an improvement.
Apple wasn’t the first company to start computers. But it almost seems like it. They completely transformed smart gadgets into lifestyle products. Amazon has moved shopping into a customer-focused experience. Microsoft with its Windows has also revolutionized how people use computers to achieve endless life possibilities. And, Netflix and Zoom during the pandemic have shown that thoughtful businesses are mostly customer-focused and tend to be more proactive. They pay attention to their customers’ lifestyles and are always willing to push the right products to make life better for their customers.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not enough to involve the customers as polls may not completely reveal true purchase behaviours. Human psychology is complicated and we don’t always mean what we write in surveys and polls.
This is where thoughtful businesses lead the pack. They are so customer-focused that they are also willing to take good risks with the hope that the customers would love it. They innovate on behalf of their customers. They are also willing to properly time when to release a product with the hope that the season would also affect demand. Many have attested to Zoom’s success in the lockdown situation of COVID19.
Proper timing can affect the success of a product. There’s no amount of effort that can successfully sell a product whose time hasn’t come. But one must observe customer trends to be able to get these predictions closely.
When a business makes efforts to understand its customers, its chances of success are higher. It’s even difficult to take advantage of proper timing if one still sees customer involvement as an afterthought.
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3. Develop a Prototype or MVP
It’s risky to launch an untested product idea. True, life is a risk. But why not take calculated risks? You can still rerun surveys, and polls to validate this idea first. Be sure it is something people would want to pay for or pay attention to what’s already selling or not selling. Develop a sample of your own product and let it out. It doesn’t need to have all of the features, remember it’s a minimum viable product version. This is the essence and core of the product itself. Just as operating systems are to Microsoft Windows and shopping is to Amazon, your MVP has to be the core upon which everything forms.
Let people have access. Conduct interviews and test phases. Let people into the beta version of the product. Receive feedback and act on them. Be sure to run a wide test on people from various categories of your audience like gender, social class, and even location. Feel free to also consult experts. You will need their research and professional insights too. There’s no limit to what research-backed evidence can bring to products.
Release an updated version and marketable version of this product and prepare to get into the market.
Now you are ready to get into the market. Fix your pricing, and get your sales and marketing team ready to swing. Here is where you will need to draw up effective marketing plans that include all forms of digital marketing, and offline marketing. You can also begin your own thought leadership series on social media or blog to help your business quickly gain followership in the market. Collaborate with media houses for a press release. Make yourself available at events where your product feature can be showcased.
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