“Nothing happens until somebody sells something” – Zig Ziglar

It’s a fundamental rule of business that sales drive everything. If you don’t have any sales, then you don’t have a business—pure and simple. You might have a charity or a hobby, but if you don’t have sales that drive sustainable profitability, you don’t have a business.

“Sales” is what happens when a customer’s perceived needs match your value proposition.

Your value proposition is more than just the specific product and/or service and its price that most people consider when they think about sales.

Your value proposition includes:

  • Brand
  • Time
  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Capabilities
  • Price

Of all of these factors, your brand carries the heaviest load. It stands for your reliability, trustworthiness, and, very importantly, aspirational value. For instance, what’s the difference between a Timex and a Rolex? Both tell time. Only one tells an aspirational story.

Most business people focus only on the price component of the value proposition. Competing on price is a loser’s game. The competitor with the greatest capital resources and/or most diversified income stream will win every time. You need to be price competitive or price premium depending on your brand positioning, but price is not the most powerful and effective variable of your value proposition, your brand is.

The best way to generate sales is to have customers who need what you are selling. You get there by selling things people want to buy. That sounds very simple, and it is, but very, very few businesses understand that fundamental fact of business.

Instead, most businesses spend tremendous amounts of time, energy and money moving customers from a mindset of “that would be nice to have” through a mindset of “I want to have that” to a mindset of “I need that.”

If you start out by selling what people already think they need, you don’t need to spend that time, energy and money moving customers from nice through want to get them to need.

It is critical to remember that every single sale, at the instant of the transaction, is between your business and a customer who believes they need what you are selling.

If you don’t have customers who think they need what you are selling, then you must invest in getting them to a point where they have a perceived need for your products and/or services.

It is marketing’s job to create the perception of need in your customer. Marketing moves customers from “nice to have,” through the “want to have,” to the “need to have” perception of need.

Until you get a customer into a perception of need for your product or service, you will have zero sales.

When your customer has a perceived need that matches your value proposition, then a sale can happen. Note the word “can.”

If you make it difficult to do business with you via a high friction (painful, hassle-filled, slow, cumbersome, etc.) purchase process, then the sale won’t happen or it will be abandoned. Even worse, it will never happen again.

To increase and sustain sales:

  • Sell something people want to buy (via identifying unmet needs in the marketplace)
  • Create customers who have a perceived need for your product and/or service (via marketing)
  • Have a compelling value proposition (driven by your brand)
  • Ensure that your actual sales process is as low-friction as possible

Lastly, remember that it costs five to 10 times more to win a new customer than it costs to satisfy and retain an existing customer.

Existing customers are your businesses most important asset.

If you are looking for sales, start with who is already buying from you.

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