7 Big Reasons People Don’t Buy Your Stuff and How to Overcome Them!

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7 Big Reasons People Don’t Buy Your Stuff and How to Overcome Them!

You’re at a networking event feeling equally excited and nervous, only half listening to everyone else’s pitch, because you’re still running yours through your head. You spent ages the day before writing it… making sure you got all the features and benefits in AND a call to action.

Then you hear your name called!

Your heart is beating like a bongo at a salsa club, your throat tightens but you power through and deliver your pitch anyway… you remember it all and you’re pleased with yourself until…

… you look around and see faces that are either blank or confused or bored!

The same thing happens with your presentations, blogs and adverts.

It can be soul destroying…knowing you have a great product or service but not being able to get the attention of your dream customer or get them to understand what you do or see the value of what you offer.

Has that happened to you?

It’s happened to me!

When I started my first business in 2010, I felt so excited. I was leaving my corporate job to set up my own company, so that I could have more flexibility and freedom to spend time with my daughter and pursue the stand-up comedy and acting that I’d been doing for about 10 years. Even though I’d been a Director in the Corporate world, being an entrepreneur was new to me, so I listened to other people, and they told me the most important things I needed were a business plan, a website, and of course business cards.

(Why do we all spend so much time on business cards!)

A couple of months later, (yes, a couple of months… it was hardly an example of speedy implementation), I had my plan, a shiny website and some sweet business cards.

I remember going to show my Dad and he said, “very nice, but have you made any money yet?” I waffled on about ‘traffic’ and how things were different now because of the internet, but inside I was like, damn, he’s right, I probably need to get some customers. 

The thing is that most of us start a business because we’re an expert at something, and we want to make a living whilst helping other people through our product or service…BUT to get our stuff out there we need customers…and the way to get customers is through knowing how to sell… but so many of us struggle with this and it’s not our fault. We’ve been conditioned to see ‘selling’ as a bad thing, and so many of us find it challenging because it feels like we’re personally being rejected.

Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing…  but I realised that if I wanted to make my business work I had to do ‘sales’…something I dreaded. Even though I did stand-up comedy ‘selling’ felt way scarier to me, partly because I didn’t know what I was doing and partly because of this feeling that it would open me up to rejection…every time I thought about it my stomach flipped, but I knew that I needed to do it.

I found some local business networking events and went armed with my business cards, and a 50 second pitch filled with all the features and benefits of my offer.

I was ready to sell baby!

I told them all about my stuff, all that it could do for them, why it was better than other stuff… and nothing. I did a longer presentation at a few, and I went into more detail about what they’d get, what a great experience they’d have… and nothing.

I felt crushed… and every time people said no to my stuff, it felt like they were saying “no” to me.

I went on some sales training, to fix what I was doing wrong and even though I started using all the techniques, after 12 months on I had just a handful of clients… and they weren’t people I really wanted to work with. I was deflated and frustrated, my shiny dream felt tarnished.

I thought… “I’m doing everything they said…so, it must be me!”

It was then I got a call from an old boss offering me a job…I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world…but I was overwhelmed and scared and I just couldn’t get through to people, so I said yes to the job, and felt like a failure.

Before I went back to corporate,I’d booked onto a conference where some big business gurus were speaking, and I decided I’d go anyway. At that conference I had a HUGE lightbulb moment and discovered the secret to marketing and selling and I was so excited!

Since then I’ve spent years studying, researching and testing this new way to get my message to connect, and the best way to structure and deliver it so that people take action too.

These days, I help other business people get results with their message and their marketing and these are the sorts of problems they bring:

“People don’t understand what I do.”
“I don’t know where to start with marketing.”
“How can I get better at sales?”
“I just can get people to buy my stuff!”
“I find sales uncomfortable and awkward.”
“My business doesn’t stand out.”
“No-one knows my business exists.”
“I can’t seem to connect with people.”
“I don’t have a USP.”
“I can’t communicate the value of what I do.”

So, I wanted to share some of the most common reasons behind these problems, and some tips for turning things around.

Ok, here we go…

1) You have a technical or complex product or service that people don’t understand…

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get people to relate to what you do and see how it can make their life or business better, but if you can’t do that you won’t have any sales!

This might be hard because you are so close to your business and you have an ‘expert’ mindset, or because you just can’t find a way to explain it easily…or both. In this scenario there are two things you need to do. Firstly, you need to come at it from a beginners’ mindset…

Think back to when you first found out about the thing you do… how did that happen, what did you hear or see that made you think it was brilliant? Can you recreate that in some way for your potential customers… via a story or a prop?

Secondly, for anything complex or technical you need to find an analogy for it that people can relate to. I use something called a ‘kinda’ like bridge’ to do this. Let me give you an example…

I’ve had clients who work in ‘the internet of things’ which is basically about bringing inanimate objects to life and enabling them to talk to each other using cloud technology, which is kinda’ like one of those big old telephone switchboards except that it floats on the internet and it doesn’t need wires. This technology has made things like smart homes possible, has given us wearable technology to keep us fit and has given warehouse shelves the ability to automatically send an order to a supplier when stock gets below a certain point. It can make our lives easier and businesses more efficient.

So… to stop people from falling asleep when you write or speak about your product or service do these two things:

  • spend some time thinking about what your product or service in terms of an everyday object or experience that people can easily relate to; and
  • think back to why you fell in love with what you do.

2) You’re trying to compete in a crowded Market

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in business is trying to appeal to everyone.  There are literally only three markets… health, wealth and relationships, but there are obviously lots of other businesses operating in these spaces. The secret to success is creating your own space within these markets, so that the right people can find you.

These days, because it is so much easier for people to connect, it is possible to serve people with very specialised interests, or in specific industries… this is what you will hear called a ‘niche’, (and it’s said that to have a sustainable business you only need 1000 true fans*).

It is scary and counterintuitive to narrow your focus, but it is so much better to be the whale in your pond, than to be a bit of plankton in the ocean that can’t be seen and easily gets swallowed up.

So, for example, in my business… my first market level is wealth, my next level is business, my third level is marketing, and my fourth level is story led marketing.

The more that you can niche down, the less competition you will have, and the easier it is for your target customer to find you… although the caveat here is that there still needs to be demand for your product or service and your target customer must still be able to afford what you do.

Ok… so to make your business stand out from the crowd you need to find a different angle to everyone else!

4) You’re Confusing People

People have only got a finite amount of energy and attention, and they will switch off if your message is confusing, (that is why you only have around 3 seconds to capture people’s attention with your landing page).

At its heart, marketing is about getting people to change their beliefs…Coke spends all their time trying to get you to believe that by drinking Coke you will have a happier life and smile more, and Pepsi spends all its time trying to get you to believe that it tastes better than Coke. (There is a whole separate lesson about marketing right there!)

The trouble is that often you will try to get people to believe more than one thing about your product or service. It might well have multiple features and benefits, but you need to focus on the one feature or benefit that your target customer wants most. Your goal is to get people to believe one thing… that your product or service will give them what they want most, and you are the only place they can get it from. All the other features and benefits need to wait until you have sold them on the one thing first.

If your message isn’t easy to understand, then you will confuse… and in marketing…if you confuse…you lose!

5) You don’t tell enough people

One thing that is absolutely true is that if you don’t get your message out there, people won’t know about your business and you definitely won’t make any sales. There are normally two main reasons why people don’t do marketing, whether that’s networking, posting on social media, speaking and so on…

It’s either because they’re not 100% sure ‘who’ it is they should be telling about their product or service, or because they’re not confident in how and what to share.

This is why I spend time up front with my clients to check they have their ‘Big 3’ clear. Once you have foundational clarity on the ‘who’, the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of your marketing, then sharing your message becomes so much easier.

If you aren’t clear on who you serve, what your offer is and how to share it, then spend some time working through those things and I promise you will be in a different place.

5) You don’t tell the right people

There is a game show on UK TV called ‘Take Me Out’, and the premise is that there are around 20 women each standing behind a light, and there is one guy who is trying to get these women to want to go on a date with him. The guy tells them about himself in three bits, and after each section, the girls either turn their light off because he’s not for them, or they keep their light on.

If he does a good job of selling himself, then he has women left with their lights on, and at this point the tables turn and he picks one from the women who are left to go on a date with.

Of those 20 women, one will be the best fit for him.

Now, all of those women on the surface have the same problem, they want a boyfriend. But… there is a deeper desire here which is that they want someone to share their ideal life with!

If he has done his research and knows the sorts of things about him or his life that will attract that ‘ideal’ woman then he will talk specifically about those things… leading with the thing she wants most… maybe she wants to travel, maybe she likes a great social life, maybe she is looking for a man that wants to settle down and have a family… but… if he tries to appeal to all of them, doesn’t give any thought to her specific desires and just talks about himself, his achievements, his cars, basically why he is such a catch, without relating it back to what she wants…then it’s likely all the lights will turn off.

The same is true of our ‘offer’ in business. There is an ideal customer for our product or service, but we need to think about what they want most and share with them how what we offer will give that to them.

(Obviously, I have only watched this programme for the purpose of research…honest!)

6) You are not sharing in the right places

Let’s go back to the TV programme ‘Take Me Out’… imagine a fella’ has seen the advert to go on the show and all it said was it’s a show for guys looking for love. He turns up, gets on stage to be faced with 20 women… and he’s actually gay. No matter what he says, or what they say back, there is not going to be any romantic love happening.

If we aren’t narrowing down our target customer beyond the surface problem they have, then it’s likely we’ll be wasting our money and time looking for them in all the wrong places!

I know some people struggle with this, but even if you make a decision and it’s not quite right, you can always pivot… but if you don’t make any decisions about your ‘who’, your ‘what’ and your ‘how’, you may never get started or you’ll be wasting your time!

You’ve got to get foundational clarity on this ‘Big 3’!

7) You’re not connecting with your customer’s pain or desire

One of the big mistakes I see people making is just talking to the surface level problem. Holidays are a great example to use here. Everyone takes vacations but there are often very different pain points that a holiday is solving for people. Think about yourself… what does a holiday do for you beyond giving you time off work?

It might vary depending where you are in your life… perhaps you’ve just bought a new house and your holiday will give you time to work on your home.

You might have a job where you spend lots of time in airports and a holiday for you might be perfect if it’s somewhere you can get to by car.

You might be into adventure and your holiday will give you a chance to explore somewhere off the beaten track.

You may have a young family and a holiday for you will be somewhere that gives you a chance to relax whilst keeping your children entertained.

You may be single and looking for love, and your holiday would be perfect if it gave you a chance to meet other single people to share an experience with.

By knowing your customer intimately, you can position your offer in a way that speaks to the deeper desire or fear that they have. It’s by connecting at that level that will get them to start believing that what you offer will be the answer, and that will motivate them enough to take action.

There you go!

The big takeaways are this:

  • Get foundational clarity on your ‘Big 3’ as this is at the heart of success with your marketing.
  • Don’t be afraid to make decisions and narrow your focus as you can always pivot.
  • Make sure you communicate clearly, simply and connect at a deeper level!

If you found this helpful and you want to find out what the secret was that I discovered that revolutionised the way we do marketing … [click here]

By Sarah Archer

*Read the 1000 True Fans article here

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