A true sales master - Henry Ford, the man famously quoted as offering his Model “T” car as follows:
“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”

However, this isn’t the sales lesson from Mr Ford, as most customers demand a little more flexibility today. Yet he was a genius and a record breaker in automotive sales. He is also quoted as saying:
“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one”
Now this is something from which we can learn.
Some people have a problem here: what if the product is genuinely bad? Simple answer - find a job with a good product, because you’ll never make a good, ethical salesperson selling a genuinely poor product. And a worse case - what if you have a generally good range of products, with one or two runts in there too? This can be a disaster, because the customers who start off buying the poor product will assume that everything else is of similar quality and you’ve instantly lost a potential long-term customer to the competition. If this sounds familiar, do something about that poor product, if you are in a position to do so, and quickly, or you'll be risking a lot of future business
To those of us with a good product, then this quote rings very true - the market is unlikely to become flooded with it, because there’ll always be people who want it. Take, for example, the iPod - the market may be flooded by poor imitations of the iPod, but not by iPods themselves - people will always want these because they are the market leader, and if you work for a market leader (like ESI) then you’re in a very fortunate position and your job is a lot easier!
The problem many salespeople have, though, is that they either don’t work for the market leader, or there is no recognised leader in their field at all, yet they have a good product. It’s here that the salesperson needs to make the difference to build a customer base of loyal, returning customers. The job is a little harder if the market is flooded by poor quality products similar to yours, because as with most things in sales, it’s not about the product itself, but about the perception of the product. It’s also about how the salesperson presents the product to the customer, and the service they give. So, in this position, what can you do?

1 - differentiate, differentiate, differentiate! Sit down with your colleagues in sales, marketing, product development - anyone who could give good input, and build a list of really strong USPs (Unique Selling Points). What does your product do that others don’t? What makes your product the best? And be careful with USPs, and ensure they really are unique. Many people make the mistake of creating a list of benefits, forgetting that competitors have similar benefits. Spend a good amount of time on this, as it gives you a lot more ammunition when selling your product.

2 - respond to your prospects’ requests as quickly as you humanly can – in the mind of the customer, a good salesperson often equals a good product. Recently, I tried to book a hotel for my holiday, and I emailed the one I preferred from their website. They took two weeks to respond!! So what do I think in this situation? Do I think my room’s going to be cleaned promptly each day? Do I think I’ll get my dinner just after I’ve ordered it? Do I think they’re going to efficiently take my reservation? Do I think the breakfast will be good? No, of course not - I think my room will get cleaned at about 3pm, I’ll wait 45 minutes for my dinner, they’ll lose my booking and that breakfast will have been hanging around in the kitchen for ages - if the sales staff take two weeks to respond to when I'm trying to give them money, what will the rest of the hotel be like, once I’ve already paid?!

3 - develop a highly professional telephone manner. Last year I had a student in my sales team on a work placement. He was very enthusiastic, he’d done good research on the product, and his sales skills were actually very good in terms of questioning, understanding, matching, etc. However, his phone manner was appalling! He missed “t”s all over the place, called prospects “mate” and sounded like he was chatting with his friends in the pub. Not the image I want to project to clients. As a result, I couldn’t let him work on the best leads, because prospects would have perceived the company as sloppy, unprofessional and low-quality. I cannot emphasise enough how vital telephone manner is to sales success.

4 - get some third-party reviews of your product. Get some ISO accreditation, or another more relevant professional certification. Get some client testimonials and use them in your marketing material or even in your email signature. Get someone to review what your company does and put the results on your website - do anything you can to enhance the perceived quality of what you have to offer.

5 – most importantly: take the time to really sell properly to every prospect. Ask them enough questions, understand them properly, make them realise how well you understand them, and match as closely as possible to their needs, giving reasons for each aspect of the matching. They will feel that you’re a sales professional rather than just a sales person, and in their eyes your product will seem to be better quality, matching the quality of the sale.

Author's Bio: 

Neil Shorney divides his time between helping businesses to achieve their full potential through his company, Naturally Sales Ltd www.nsales.co.uk, and leading his European sales team at the world's largest project management training company, where he spends his time selling, leading and training in areas as diverse as sales, communication skills, ownership & accountability, and Microsoft Excel. He has over 12 years of international sales, management, and strategic experience in diverse industries including hospitality, energy, IT & telecommunications, project management, and business analysis. Neil is a firm believer in success through business partnerships, and the value of long-term business relationships.