Even though products can have great and demonstrable benefits to organizations, sometimes they can be very hard to buy. That can happen when products are used across functional areas, with no single owner. Or when a product is being sold too high up within an organization. It can also happen with new innovations in markets with few innovators and early adopters as buyers. Or it can happen when products have more than one barrier to adoption, as is the case with most collaboration-based products.
So what is an organization to do when faced with this kind of dynamics? Sure, you can do what most of them do: improve sales force training, develop better tools with tangible ROI’s and case studies, have better demo’s and make it easier to try out the product, etc. But those are all efforts focused on improving the seller or selling channel for the product.
There are two other levers you can play with in this equation – specifically product and buyer related levers. On the product level you could “dumb down” the product so that it becomes a single problem solution, with a clear owner for that problem. You could also evaluate whether your product could be turned into a service – and as such reduce the buyer’s risk for trying the solution. On the buyer side of things you should look at your value proposition and find ways to tweak it so that some, if not all of the value, benefits the buyer personally instead of the buyer’s organization. Is there something in your value proposition that the buyer could put on their resume or gain additional professional status or advancement from? Because remember – if there is nothing in it for the buyer or the users of your product, your product will fail – even if you can achieve a few sales early on!
The key point which most companies miss is that they should be focusing on the “buying cycle” instead of the “sales cycle.” The buying cycle has a lot more moving parts than the sales cycle – and thus a lot more alternative solutions when things don’t work as planned.