Written by: Alan Rodway

Businesses go to significant effort to create products they can profitably sell. But having a quality product is sometimes not enough especially if there are buying or selling blockages at play. This article looks at some typical blockages and how they might be removed. Some are practical blockages but some are more about perception, either on the part of the buyer or the seller.

Buying blockages:

Buying blockages are those that exist in the minds of the buyer. Sometimes they can be overcome by simple actions. Sometimes they need more creative thinking.

  1. Buyer concerns over potential poor quality, functionality or suitability of a product can be overcome by a money back guarantee …. providing the guarantee is perceived to be genuine and can be easily achieved practically.
  2. Online buying concerns can be numerous … delivery of a wrong product, product might not work properly, slow delivery times, cost and inconvenience of returning the product if it’s not right, lack of trust in the seller. Online sellers therefore have to remove all of those blockages by convincing messaging (and proof) that any of those situations will be remedied swiftly, easily and without cost to the buyer.
  1. Sometimes buyers are reticent to buy, either through experience or from hearsay, because it’s just difficult to deal with a particular business or industry. Buyers would then, at least, be on guard or, at worst, not buy. If that’s true then continuing the same approach to selling and messaging won’t work. It (all) has to change to convince buyers not to be reluctant.
  2. Buyers won’t buy sometimes because of possible low resale or trade in values. Guaranteed buy back provisions / values can work very effectively in these cases. The car industry has engaged that approach, with success, in recent years.
  3. Distrust or scepticism per se. In these case it’s particularly important to create a known, trusted brand, including what it will do to remedy situations a buyer could be concerned about. There are some standout retailers who do this very well. Such brands can take time to create but that’s part of sustainable success.
  4. Buyers often defer purchasing due to anticipation of newer models or versions. Discounts for current products help but long lead times prior to the new products should probably be avoided. Also, educating buyers into knowing expecting that there will be a new product every year or whatever is probably not the smartest approach.
  5. Consumers can avoid purchasing some types of products according to weather / predictions. In such cases, sellers might offer forms of compensation if the weather turns out to be adverse to the effective use of the product, e.g. re-wash a car without cost, discounted second holiday. Some creative thinking is necessary with these situations.
  6. Products that are seasonal often experience lower sales towards the end of a season as buyers wait for the new season. That’s not a problem of itself, unless stocks are too high. This is probably more about astute planning of production, buying and stock levels than anything else.
  7. A major blockage of products that have a practical use is the (perceived) difficulty of working out how to use them. Products that are ‘technology’ based fall right into this category. Imagine the number of purchases that are not made simply because of a fear of not being able to use a product properly or set it up properly. One solution is to show people in house (including training sessions) how to use the product and another is to set the product up for the buyer where it’s going to be used (including at home or at work). Building the cost of these remedies into the product is not as big a blockage as someone not buying it because they are fearful of not being able to assemble or use it properly.

Selling blockages:

Selling blockages are those that exist within the business itself. Some of these blockages can be deep seeded and will require some time to overcome. Others can be removed more easily.

  1. One of the biggest selling blockages stems from buyers having a purpose as against sellers having a product. Someone wanting to build a home has a special purpose but that can be taken off them by the product’s drawings, concrete slab, frame, bricks, facade, door sizes and taps. It’s the same with any significant purchase a consumer makes … they have a purpose that they feel. That should never be reduced by a seller changing the context to a product. The product serves a purpose; it’s not the end in itself. An appointment at a hairdresser is to look and feel good, a car purchase is to love driving, a visit to a medical centre is to feel healthy, buying a computer is to be able to do really good things. Any of these can be ‘destroyed’ by a seller accidentally substituting the purpose for their product.
  2. Industry jargon follows the previous point. Never use it. Only ever speak in terms the consumer has at the core of his/her purpose. Technical speak reverts to product rather than purpose. See “Stop The Industry Speak”.
  3. Pushy sales people may make some short term sales but they are not in the long term interests of any business. People today are more informed prior to communicating with a seller so it’s more important than ever to provide useful information and make a connection than it is to ‘convince’.
  4. Commission has so often gotten in the road of making sales (contrary to what it is supposed to do, obviously). Buyers are not naive and can easily spot self interest in a sales approach. If commission for sales people or in the sales approach gets in the road of providing useful information, objectively, then it should not be a long term approach used by a business.
  5. Following the previous point, the same applies to commission structures within a business that cause sales people to compete. They will not share leads, help other sales people nor their prospects , nor do an array of other things that are actually in the best interests of the overall business and the consumer. It can be as bad as ‘hiding’ information from each other. The consumer can figure it out and the situation often leads to lower overall sales and poorer business reputation.
  6. The internal perception of price can be a major blockage to sales. If people internally do not absolutely believe that the price represents good value to purchasers then they will not be able to stop that feeling being picked up by the consumer. Everyone has senses and it’s not difficult to pick up that the seller doesn’t really believe it’s priced well.
  7. Thinking that the only price a consumer pays for a product is money. It’s more than that. It’s time, travel, research costs and emotion. Understanding that price is but one of the costs to the consumer helps create the connection to purpose that is needed for high level sales.
  8. Absence of Why a business is doing it. Remember “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Any business that is not clear on their Why or doesn’t live it in their interactions with buyers is just selling a product and that is much more difficult. It will be picked up by the buyer. If a business is primarily selling to make money rather than for a purpose the buyer can connect with then the selling process is flawed.
  9. Lack of authenticity or sincerity from within the business. This will cause buyers to question everything and possibly go elsewhere. There are two ‘musts’ here … hire the right people and ensure they live out the business Why.
  1. Just making it too damn difficult to buy … paperwork, time it will take, travel, waiting in queues (online, in store, phone), not knowing answers, etc. Objectively evaluate how easy or difficult it is to do buy from your business and if it’s more difficult than easy then you must remove the causes, now.
  2. Just not being good at marketing or selling the product. Sometimes the wrong people do the marketing or selling. In privately owned businesses that’s sometimes a creator of the product or an owner. They can know a lot about the product but are poor at communicating its purpose, uses, etc. The right people have to have the opportunity to market and sell the product.

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