A lot of people in business fail to recognize a subtlety that makes all the difference between mediocre achievement and great success. The issue I'm talking about is whether you sell in or sell through.
Selling is a method most companies mistakenly use they are trying to sell products that are repeatedly consumed. These companies only focus on how to get that customer to buy their product or service one time. They are not particularly aware that if they don’t attempt to sell the product repeatedly, the customer has no compelling desire to ever purchase from them again.
I believe that in order to build a business you have to realize and understand the fact that your greatest area of likely growth is getting existing customers to buy more products more often. How do you do that? Depending upon the business you’re in, you need to focus on “selling through.”
The process of “selling through” is going to mean different things to different industries. For example, if you are a wholesale supplier to different retailers, just getting retailers to buy your products and put them on their shelves or hang them on their displays or put them in their catalog, isn’t really enough.
If the positioning, the marketing, the propositions that the retailer extends to their customers are not compelling enough or if there is no customer demand for the product or service, all you end up doing is getting a one-time, one-shot sale, and that is tragic, because the same effort with the right mind-set or strategy could produce a repeat customers indefinitely.
The key to “selling through” is to help your customer get the maximum benefit and the maximum use out of your product. Your goal, if you’re really committed to building a successful business should be to make absolutely certain that your product gets passed through and consumed to its fullest and delivers the maximum benefit.
For example, if you’re an accountant and you calculate tax returns, your clients should know that you are saving them the most money, that you are looking out for their welfare and that you are getting them the best yield. When they understand and experience those benefits, then, they will be committed to continuously using your services.
Another example of “selling through” would be a clothing manufacturer. To maximize your business you would have to do everything in your power to make sure that the retailers know how to sell, how to advertise, and how to display your merchandise.
In this case you should do whatever you cost-effectively can to get market demand established so that when they buy from you, they know that you’ve already helped them sell through, because you’ve established and created customer demand, awareness and interest.
The point here is simple: Just selling to someone the first time is only the beginning of your responsibility. If you want to maximize your business, you’ve got to concentrate on what happens for the purchaser after he or she has purchased your product or service.