What Do You Really Sell (It’s Not What You Think)

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Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 2: How to Create Messages That Sell
Post 3: What Do You Really Sell (It’s Not What You Think)

We were asked to share insights with the strategic planning committee of a bank. One of the questions we asked them was:

“What do you sell?”

It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves. We also ask it of our coaching clients. It’s a part of one of our speeches to business owners and leaders.

It’s an important question to ask about your business.

The bankers had all kinds of ideas – banking products, loans, deposit accounts, mortgages, fees, trust services and more.

We followed up with, “But what do you really sell?”

But we didn’t stop there. We went through an exercise which we’ll tell you here shortly. They started to get it. They finally realized:

They sell dreams!

Now of course, they do that through deposit accounts, mortgages, and loans for cars and businesses.

But ultimately, this bank is in the business of making dreams come true.

Just like an insurance broker we know is in the protection business. A plumber sells quality of life. At BIGG Success, we sell freedom.

The power in knowing what you really sell

Once you understand what you really sell, strategic decision-making and communication is so much simpler.

You understand the core of your business. So options can be filtered by their contribution (or detraction) from your core. Saying “No” is easier because you have a focus.

You understand the true benefit that you deliver. You can communicate that benefit in a word or phrase:

Dreams. Protection. Quality of life. Freedom.

Let’s go back to the bank for a minute. What would get you more excited – making loans or making dreams come true?

If you have employees, don’t you think they’ll be equally excited about making dreams come true instead of just pushing products?

After all, we all want to feel like our work makes a difference in the world. Making dreams a reality makes quite a difference!

Do you see the power in connecting what you sell to a deeper purpose?

An exercise to discover what you really sell

Okay, you’re sold. So how do you go about doing it?

Stop seeing the tangible products in front of you. Then you’ll uncover the intrinsic product within your product.

Stop just thinking about the features of your product. Then you’ll start to understand its benefits.

(And in case you’re wondering, these last two paragraphs also apply to a service.)

So how you can determine what you really sell?

Ask yourself another follow-up question. This is the part of our conversation with the bankers that we didn’t share earlier.

To determine what you really sell, go through this exercise:

Why do people buy your product or service? When you have that answer, ask this question:

“And that means…?”

Once you have your answer, ask it again. “And that means…?”

Keep going. It will probably take four or five times to drill down to what you really sell. (Yes, this is a version of the Five Whys.) But it works.

It’s how we helped the bankers get to “dreams,” the insurance broker realize he sold “protection” and the plumber find out that he sells “quality of life.” It’s also how we discovered that we sell “freedom.”

What do you really sell?

Your phrase that pays

Many business owners don’t grasp an important concept when it comes to dealing with people:

Nobody likes to be sold. Everybody loves to buy.

Once you know what you really sell, you need to find to explain it on the buyer’s terms.

You need a phrase that pays.

A phrase that pays hits a sweet spot. It conveys your ultimate benefit (what you really sell) in a way that sparks emotion with your ideal customers.

The shorter it is the better – as long as it makes your point. You probably can’t explain it in one word. But it should take no more than seven.

For example, we said we sell “freedom.” What does that mean by itself? Well, it can mean all kinds of things. The prospect is left wondering. And confused people don’t buy!

So we need a phrase. Here it is: “life on your own terms.”

We’d like to highlight two things here:

First, note that what we sell (freedom) isn’t mentioned in our phrase. It’s conveyed. Your phrase should describe your ultimate benefit from your ideal customer’s point-of-view.

Second, the industry you’re in doesn’t matter. We’re a business services company that sells freedom. But so do these people:

  • Lincoln Financial (life insurance): “You’re in Charge”
  • Harley Davidson (motorcycles): “American by Birth. Rebel by Choice”
  • Charles Schwab (investment service): “Own Your Tomorrow”
  • Burger King (restaurant): “Have It Your Way”
  • The National Lottery (gambling): “It Could Be You”

We point this out because you may find inspiration by looking at other industries. So keep your eyes and ears open about your phrase that pays.

If you really get stuck, try out this FREE slogan generator. We won’t say you’re likely to find “the” phrase with this tool. But it may help spark ideas.

Sample phrase that pays

We’re going to share a phrase that pays for a product, rather than a company. But it’s a great historical example of an iconic brand’s release of a new product…

Apple’s iPod. How did Apple introduce it?

Well, they could have described its features:

The iPod is a portable media player with a black and white LCD screen which features a 1.8” 5 GB hard drive, and a battery life of 10 hours

Instead, they said this:

1,000 songs in your pocket

The first one is precise, to be sure. But it’s full of jargon. And except for the most avid users, it’s emotionally flat.

“1,000 songs in your pocket” summarizes it all by conveying the ultimate benefit. It’s a five word phrase that pays. As we all know, it resonated.

It’s what you’re looking for – a phrase that reduces the clutter into a communication which connects quickly with your ideal customers.

Next Step

You’re ready for either Part 3 of the Create Messages That Sell Guidebook or the next post.

And don’t forget – if you have a question, just email us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.