If Your Product is Good, It Will Sell Itself

Business Myth No. 1

A very bad idea!

If you believe the title of this blog post, you are in for a huge disappointment. Which is why I was astonished to see this dangerous idea supported by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in a recent retweet.

According to their website , this “…is the department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business.” Commendable ideals but can we have a reality check, please?

I was introduced to the concept of ‘if your product is good…” almost 30 years ago. Of course, it was a development engineer who said it – it nearly always is someone from that side of the business. I had been in sales about five minutes at the time but, even then, it didn’t ring true.

Nothing I’ve seen since then has led me to change my point of view.

What’s wrong with ‘good’?

This idea makes the fatal mistake of assuming that people buy features. They don’t, they buy benefits.

The classic illustration of this point is the Ted Levitt quote

People don’t buy a quarter-inch drill bit, they buy a quarter-inch hole.

However, this doesn’t go far enough. The quarter-inch is the feature, the hole is the advantage but the benefit is that you can put up a shelf to hold your collection of model planes (or whatever.)

This is a trite example but I’m sure you get the idea.

If you have a good product, there’s often very little to distinguish it from another good product. The customer has a list of features to compare, that’s it. The law of averages says that you will sell some but are you happy with ‘some’?

So you take it one stage further, do some active selling – ‘with this feature, Mr Customer, you can do this.’ That’s better, you’ll sell more because you’re showing the customer the advantage of a certain feature.

But take it one stage further and you will sell even more. ‘Mr Customer, with this feature you can do this which means that this happens.’

It’s this final part that the customer buys. The benefit connects the facts about your product to a solution for your customer. The skill comes in identifying which features provide which advantages with lead to which benefits for any given customer.

Can you really do all of that by allowing a product to ‘sell itself”?

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