Generating sales in a business climate where products are constantly being created that render others obsolete can seem a bit unstable. This may appear a little depressing, but really it should be highly motivational, especially with regard to your sales strategy. Do you remember digital cameras? At one point, they were indispensable during holidays, vacations and meaningful life events, but the market for new products is ripe for disruption as each quarter of the fiscal year unfolds. Nearly all functions of digital cameras were subsumed by smartphones. This can mean several things for those of you in the sales department.
- Remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that your product will run the course of the Walkman, the Discman and possibly even the iPod when technology comes along that integrates all the best features and improves upon it. Case in point: smartphones.
- Become the agent of disruption in the market and provide a product or service that eliminates the competition.
Disrupting the Market Sure, this is far easier said (or written) than done, but a few companies have pulled it off. Forbes used Apple as a prime example of what happens when a company successfully disrupts its own products. You would think a product as successful as the iPod wouldn't be hit very hard by smartphones because they hold such cultural cache and have been established as a status symbol. But, in fact, sales of the portable music device fell by 32 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, sales for iPhones rose by 20 percent during the same period, meaning Apple still enjoyed a substantial expansion in revenue in spite of laggard iPod sales. As part of a smart sales strategy, you must:
- be able to identify the product or service that is most susceptible to disruption, even if it's your most successful offering.
- look at others in the industry that have become enraptured with the status quo, maybe a little complacent.
Another example of this can be seen in Netflix. While some might say the company cannibalized itself by doing away with its home delivery of DVDs, the company had the forethought to identify a market shift where people were no longer interested in waiting for the mail to be delivered to get the content they desired. The same reasoning could have applied to brick-and-mortar DVD rental stores, but the vision simply didn't exist.
The Benefits of Reinvention However, sales are generated with increasing variety with the proliferation of digital media. You no doubt have memory of pop-up ads. They're still in use, but under the pseudonym of hover ads. Content is extremely valuable for generating leads for companies, as a recent Business.com survey indicated 50 percent of small-business owners indicated leads derived from white papers and similar online content are of value. While pop-ups have gone out of vogue, Entrepreneur suggested that hover ads have improved sales on their site by 162 percent. Whereas pop-ups generally disregarded the people reading the content, hover ads provides the target demographic with a precise message that will encourage sales leads and conversions.
The philosophy remains the same: Stay ahead of the curve. A sales strategy that encourages your team to buck the status quo is a great way to start. No matter how successful your current service or product is, there's a line of people around the block developing ideas aimed at knocking you off your pedestal. Technology is certainly more susceptible to disruption than other industries may be, but any business interested in perpetuating its success must be able to identify what consumers want before anyone else does.