The golden rule of sales

Under promise, over deliver? Customer is king? Stack ‘em high watch ‘em fly? Not really, but they all relate to what I believe is the golden rule of sales: Sell through, not in.

Unless you are selling direct to the end user your product needs to successfully sell through each channel e.g. internal sales people, retail store, online, call centre until it is bought by the end user.

Successful ‘sell through’ means those people involved in representing your product (either employed by you or others in the channel) sell it along the channel to end users. Sounds obvious I know but I have seen many products fail because of the lack of sell through.

It’s all very well to make a sale or launch a product but it’s the volume of repeat orders that will determine profitability. Depending on what is being sold, there will either be costs to either make or buy the product, or costs of staff to develop and deliver a service which is often called a ‘product’. Getting repeat orders is critical to recouping the money, time, effort and opportunity cost of developing and launching a product.

Don’t get the sell through and at best you have eroded some equity with the channel. At worst you will be forced to relaunch or discount the product to make sales. And human nature being what it is, when you go back to your sales channel with a refreshed product or lower price they will need persuading.

Who does this sales rule apply to? It starts with the Product and Marketing teams and applies to all sales people in your channel whether they are employed by you or others in the channel.

A successful product relies on the Product and Marketing team getting the four Ps of marketing right (product, price, place, promotion). By getting this right Product and Marketing teams will more easily sell in to their sales channel. From there it needs to be sold in to retail or end users.

When selling in, promotion is the marketing principle most often overlooked. Promotion of the product is thought by many to only involve promoting to the end user, and not the sales channel. However, fail to promote to your sales channel and you risk slow sell through. If your sales channel are convinced and committed, then sales are more likely to lead to repeat business.

Go 2 market principle: invest the time, energy and money in promoting your product to your sales channel so they successfully represent your product and generate repeat business.

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