What your customers need to know about your product nowadays
Having an innovative product that will genuinely improve your customers’ businesses doesn’t mean you will enjoy abundant sales. Time, effort and investment is needed to communicate the value of a product – and the obvious marketing methods don’t always reap the right rewards.
A key focus of marketing a product is often on all the features and functionalities, bells and whistles it has. This is never truer than with technology. Yet research increasingly demonstrates that it is not all the impressive-sounding innovations that actually sell a product. Instead, it is what a product will do and how it makes people feel (Harvard Business Review).
Of course, potential customers want to feel reassured that a product is backed by innovation. Subsequently, offering documentation and insights that go into depth about features and functionalities of a product is a useful part of a sales process. But it is rarely the thing that seals the deal.
What will actually secure a product sale is helping customers understand how a product will solve a challenge for them. Customers need to feel they know how a product will do this inside-out, which doesn’t necessarily relate to the technical specification. Selling the vision of the end result drives product sales.
We always ask our clients about their procurement process, to really understand what makes them purchase certain products. Based on our experience, here are some of the things you need to tell prospective customers about the products you are trying to sell.
1. Product development
Customers don’t just want to know what a product will do for them now, they want to know what it will look like in the future too. This means you need to relay accurate information about the product development process and imminent updates being implemented.
Share as much about your product roadmap as possible, including when certain features will be developed and launched. Some customers are happy to buy if a product doesn’t yet have certain features, as long as they know it is coming in the near future.
Many customers like to know how the product development process works more generally, including how you go about developing new features. If customers have an opportunity to be involved in suggesting ideas and being involved in the pilot stages of new features, this fact alone has the potential to win them over.
If your products have a good level of investment being ploughed into them, this is received as a positive sign by prospective customers. Communicate this information through the product roadmap, but also have additional information about investment to share with customers too.
They may want to know what level of investment is made into a business as a whole, which includes the level of funding, how funding rounds have been raised, and who is backing it. If your business is being taken seriously by investors, then customers are more inclined to work with you.
3. Product experts
Although your business may have operational developer expertise in it, a product expert is a powerful addition to the team when it comes to securing customers. A product expert has a crucial understanding of how a product’s innovations will apply to a customer’s specific sector.
In-depth knowledge about a specific industry gives customers reassurance that the product will be continually developed with their needs in mind, constantly evolving in a way that it needs to in order to fit the industry. Research even shows that sales representatives with expertise in a product sell up to 123% more than those who don't (Wharton School of Business / Forbes).
4. Underpinning technology
Once a prospective customer has gained an understanding of how a product will help them solve a challenge, they will want to know more about the underpinning technology itself. This may include whether it is cloud hosted, cloud native, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, has automation features, and the format of its integration into the business. Being ready with answers to questions like this will help to secure more confidence in the product as a whole.
5. Integrations and connectivity
An aspect that is of increasing importance to customers who are trying to manage multiple technologies, is how your product will integrate and connect with other systems. This is a key point to communicate.
Provide as much information as possible about integrations, interfaces, levels of connectivity and open API. Consider integrations with everything including CRM, payment systems and internal messaging systems. Also think about how the system will be accessed by remote consultants in a safe and secure manner.
Customers want to feel that the process of implementing your product will be seamless rather than disruptive to the business.
6. Use cases and examples
Having specific examples of how a product or product feature has been deployed in real life is a central way of describing a product’s value. Although success metrics are useful, a success story or case study doesn’t necessarily need to include this. The focus should be on demonstrating how the technology, system or service has been implemented within a business. This is one of the most effective ways for a customer to understand how the product could be implemented in their own business.
7. Results and proof points
Providing prospective customers with additional information to secure their buy-in will range from data about product usage, to pertinent industry trends. Delve into your product usage statistics to find information to relay to customers. This includes the current level of activity and what behaviour trends you’re seeing.
You have a duty to understand the industry and communicating some of your insights to customers is compelling. Create your own insights into industry market behaviours and how customers are using your product to gain specific results in the market.
See our Hotelier’s Voice podcast for more insights into the procurement process in the travel and hospitality industry.