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Why Great Products Fail to Sell

metaphor of a dull light bulb for products fail to sell
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When your products fail to sell, some would argue that the answer to problems lies with developers or engineers. Many companies invest heavily in product or solution development and are disappointed when it is not the boom in the market they planned or hoped would be achieved.

For a CEO, it can be devastating as the business’s growth plans incorporate new product launches. But it is not usual that many excellent products fail to sell. As CEO you look at others with an inferior product gaining market share every day and become frustrated. Your strategy was to have a superior product, and you have priced accordingly to go to the market, and it has strong reasons for buyers to purchase.

The product was initially offered to some customers who gave great reports and feedback. Unfortunately, the new customers are not knocking down the doors, and quite a few existing customers are tentative to jump right into the new product.

Does the question then become if you have a superior product, are the customers willing to pay for it? Do you have enough good marketing to support educating the market, and do you have enough quality sales personnel to generate the demand and convert it to revenue?

As CEO, it is time to start asking questions and look through a different lens at your product. It is time to group your leadership team and review the following questions to see if any unplanned or unknown hurdles are in your competitive environment landscape.

  1. Does the new product confuse your buyers? People will not buy what they don’t understand, and if your product takes them in a different direction or a new journey with you, they may be confused. You need to do a check and decide if one or all of the following applies. Is your marketing team and sales team fully conversant on the product and capable of selling it or are they confusing the market? Is the application of the product and how it fits into the customer environment challenging their thinking? Is there confusion in the offering and the value you bring to the market?
  2. Is there product conflict? You complete the confusion test, and you decide that is not the problem. Your products fail to sell so is there a barrier to them purchasing that you did not expect? The customer has other products or solutions in place that this new product creates conflict with so they cannot move forward. Have those situations been identified and included in the sales and marketing plan, or are sales finding this information part way through the sales process? This conflict is likely to prevent buyers from purchasing and either the market needs to be redefined or the adjustments made to the product.
  3. Wrong customers are being attracted to the product. The product was launched, but the profile of customers that are enquiring are the wrong ones. The customers are drawn to a problem that is not what your product can solve. Has marketing misunderstood the problem-solving capability of the product or written the wrong content? Are sales grasping at issues in an attempt to find doors to open? A review of the go-to-market strategy must be done immediately.
  4. Have you attracted new competitors you did not plan for? It is possible the impingement on your market is not a direct competitor but indeed can provide a substitute solution for your customers. You need to redefine your competitive position and make a stronger case that off-sets their intrusion.
  5. Have you misjudged the market? It is not unusual that products or solutions to be created based on the conversation of a minority of customers or through observations in the market of potential new markets or opportunities. If you have exhausted the above points, you may need to go back to your research and ensure the problem was not limited to just a few and was, in fact, a problem or something that customers were willing to pay for, across a broader audience.
  6. Are your sales and marketing not enabled correctly? In many cases the issue can be the sales and marketing team is insufficiently enabled to make the product a success. The marketing requirements were not sufficiently tested resulting in poor communication materials and content. The sales force is not enabled with a product strategy at the customer interface and trained in how to sell the product.

There are many reasons why products fail to sell. To identify specifically where the chasms are in product strategy – marketing strategy – sales strategy, the correct measurement systems must be in place.

If you believe you can improve your measurement systems of marketing and/or sales, please contact us and discuss your specific situation.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.