Do you have invisible sales in your business? Here are three strategies to try
OPINION: Invisible sales can be a gold mine for many businesses and are often “hidden from view”.
They can easily be worth hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in new profit in your business every week.
Here are three strategies you can use to create invisible sales in your own business.
First strategy: find “new uses” for your product or service
I first discovered the invisible sales of a “new use” of a product or service about 31 years ago.
At the time, I was selling a motivational seminar to help improve performance and productivity.
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I was chatting with a client who had sent one of their top performing salespeople to this motivational seminar.
He told me he did it because he thought it would be a nice way to express his appreciation for the great job this salesperson had done. (It wasn’t to improve that person’s performance.)
I quickly realized that there were “invisible sales” for our motivational seminar.
These sales could be made to business people with staff they wanted to thank. (It was a very large potential market.)
So I started to explain how this motivational seminar could help business people say “thank you” and show appreciation to some of their key employees.
The end result was new sales every month in a market that I had totally ignored until then.
One of the easiest ways to find new uses for a product or service you’re selling is to talk to your customers on a regular basis.
When you are chatting, ask them “how” they are using your product or service.
The answers will often surprise you and lead to totally new sales that you have overlooked until now.
I read a fascinating story about a baking soda maker whose sales were dropping because more women were working full time and therefore not baking as much.
The baking soda maker surveyed its customers and found that their customers actually used baking soda for dozens of uses that had nothing to do with baking.
They used baking soda as a refrigerator deodorant, laundry detergent, stain remover, and more.
The baking soda maker has created a wide range of brand new products such as refrigerator deodorants, laundry powders based on these reviews. And they’ve made millions of dollars in new sales from these new uses for baking soda.
Many of your customers and customers are a lot smarter than you think, and they can often use your product or service in ways you never imagined.
These new uses of products or services can generate a small fortune in invisible sales.
Action exercise one:
Chat with a dozen or more existing customers this month.
Ask them how and when they use your product or service.
Pay close attention to any new uses they mention that you may not have considered.
New uses of a product or service can often lead to a large number of new sales.
Second strategy: find “new markets” for your product or service
This is very closely related to strategy number one.
Cindy Cashman saw an interesting idea for a new book called Everything men know about women.
The book had over 100 pages and they were all blank.
Cindy liked the fun nature of the book and started looking for new markets to help her sell massive amounts of her book. She ignored traditional bookstores when she realized that her blank book would be competing with thousands of other books for sale.
Instead, Cindy approached businesses like women’s clothing stores and asked them to display her book next to the cash register.
Women who shopped at these stores would pick up the book because of the catchy title, laugh when they saw it was totally empty inside, and then buy copies to give as gifts to other women.
Cindy kept the price affordable and sold over a million copies of her blank book over the next few years.
So, the new market for Cindy in this example was women’s clothing stores.
Often there are whole new markets for your products and services.
And once you find these new markets, they can be very profitable.
Here’s a simple example to get you thinking:
Imagine you own a florist.
A “new market” for most florists is what I call the “delusional fan” market.
In other words, the market is made up of companies that want to turn their normal customers into enthusiastic enthusiastic fans (this is a huge market).
The florist might simply approach local businesses that sell expensive products and services and offer them “enthusiastic fan” service.
In other words, the florist will personally send a beautiful potted plant or a bouquet of flowers to every new customer of one of these companies.
And include a handwritten “thank you card” with the flowers or potted plant in the name of the business.
It would come out a few days after a person made a purchase.
The florist takes care of everything and the company just has to give him the name and contact details of each new customer.
This unexpected giveaway would delight customers and generate lots of repeat customers and referrals.
And once a business saw how well it worked, they used the service on a regular basis. So a new business customer could easily generate dozens of new profitable sales every month for that florist.
While tapping into a “new market”.
Action exercise two:
What are the potential new markets for your product or service that you have not yet thought about approaching?
Strategy Three: Sell your “proven sales and marketing systems” to other businesses.
Marketing legend Jay Abraham was consulting with the owner of a gas station who had a car wash as part of the business.
The gas station was losing money and the owner hired Jay for advice.
Jay discovered that the owner of the gas station was very good at selling car washes.
He managed to get a high percentage of people who bought fuel at his gas station to buy a car wash at the same time.
And a lot of those people would actually buy the most expensive car wash.
Jay told the gas station that his business was not worth keeping because it was not profitable.
However, he told the owner that his system for selling such a large number of car washes was very valuable.
So Jay wrapped up the sales script that the owner of this business was using to sell a lot of car washes.
He then sold this sales script to 1,000 other gas station companies that had a car wash.
These companies all paid $ 500 each for this proven car wash sales system.
Total revenue from the sale of this proven sales system was $ 500,000. And Jay shared that 50/50 with the owner of the gas station.
The good news is that many of us in business have one or more proven sales and marketing systems that could easily be sold to other businesses.
Here is a simple example.
The proven insurance sales letter.
Some time ago, I was chatting with an insurance broker who told me about an interesting four page letter he wrote to send to self-employed workers.
He explained that this letter identified a problem common to many of these people and gave them an interesting reason to encounter it.
This insurance broker told me that he mailed this letter to 96 tradespeople over a four week period and then made a follow-up phone call to each person.
He would mail the letters on a Friday and phone the people he sent them to on the following Wednesday and Thursday.
Of the 96 letters he sent, he created 26 appointments with his follow-up phone call.
And that resulted in five sales producing commissions of $ 19,800.
I immediately realized that this insurance broker had a proven system for getting appointments and making sales.
So I suggested that he make it available to a few other insurance brokers in non-competing fields.
I then emailed six insurance brokers I knew and told them about the success this insurance broker has had with their proven marketing system to trades people.
Five of those insurance brokers agreed to pay $ 297 to have a copy of his letter and phone script so they could use it in their own insurance business as well.
And they made a great investment because now they have something that is proven to work in getting dates and making sales.
The end result was almost $ 1,500 in new sales from the sale of a proven sales and marketing system.
Action exercise three
Take a look at your own business and see if you have any proven sales or marketing systems that seem to work well on a consistent basis.
It can range from a sales pitch that seems to work most of the time, to an email that produces a good number of qualified leads every time you send it.
Once you’ve identified these proven sales or marketing systems, offer them for a fee to other business owners in non-competitive areas and see what they say.
There are often a large number of invisible sales in many businesses.
I recommend that you spend a few minutes each week researching these invisible sales.
These may be new uses for your product or service, or entirely new markets for your product or service.
Even proven sales and marketing systems that work well in your business could be sold to other businesses as well.
Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant. You can get his free marketing guide “The Selling Solution Plan B” at www.simplemarketinganswers.com