understand how to sell your product to the customer
Write out the pros/cons and choose your right customer path: retail stores, mail order catalog/online sales, direct sales and wholesale
Which customers can you sell even before you’ve finished your product or service?
Who can help you in sales?
How can you get the sales pipeline going even before you finish your product?
Joan currently has limited work opportunities now that she has a newborn baby. Joan has worked at the front counter a meat shop in Montana since she was a teenager. The beef and bison jerky was a huge hit for the tourists. In fact, some tourists would call the store for follow up orders but they could not take telephone orders. Joan had once approached the owners about starting a website but the owners weren’t interested. Joan was at a playdate when she saw Jennifer, an old friend who developed websites.
By the end of the playdate, Joan decided she would develop an eCommerce business which specialized in beef and bison jerky. She could call on customers who bought before and promote the website through the retail store. After a couple of nervous days, the owners agreed to sell Joan the product at wholesale price and let me Joan be the “website agent,” as long as they did not have to pay for any of the website. Joan was about to start a next chapter in her life.
Ted has developed a new line of scrubs for doctors and nurses. Scrubs haven’t changed in 50 years but textile technology has with wicking, antimicrobial and knit to make it comfortable. Ted knew there were several channels to consider. The hospitals rented the cheapest scrubs from linen companies so that wasn’t an option. Selling through retail stores was tough because Walmart and Scrubs and Beyond were forcing the mom-and-pop scrub shops to close. Ted wanted to look more into how to sell directly to the doctors and nurses through tradeshows or the internet. Ted knew the old distribution channels were not the way to go, while the new channels can create opportunity but at great risk.
Susan, a former pharmaceutical rep, had created a great sales award gift for high performing sales reps at large organizations. Her first customer was the Sales VP of her former company. They re-ordered quickly. After initial success, she called on sales award companies and attend several tradeshows. She had no success.
When she was about to give up on the product, her friend Barbara asked how she sold the first order. Without thinking, Susan said that she called the assistant of the Sales VP to set up a meeting. Barbara suggested that she do the same for other companies and cut out the middlemen.
Susan found that getting CEOs and VPs to take meetings was nearly impossible but she could always get 5 minutes with their assistants. She found that if the assistants liked her product, then the assistants would immediately show their bosses and get results. After failing with the usual channels for months, she found that getting in the door and showing the first gatekeeper, the assistants, really paid off.
FAQ & Resources
What is a customer path?
A customer path is how you sell your product to the customer. This can be done directly, through stores, or through middlemen.
What is a channel?
A channel is also a customer path.
What is the end customer?
The end customer is the final buyer of the product. There are often middlemen, wholesalers or retailers, who will buy and then resell to the final buyer.