So how about hitting some serious numbers?  How about owning your category?  The good news is you don’t have to change what you sell, you just have to change the way you think about what you sell.  The key is to raise yourself above being a supplier, and become an expert who just happens to sell your product.  Here’s how.

Don’t sell products, sell something priceless

I was recently addressing an audience from The Locksmiths’ Association.  If you’ve ever bought a lock in the US, you’ll know that there are about four manufacturers who cover the whole industry.  All locksmiths sell the same products from the same manufacturers.  Their challenge – and yours – is to raise themselves above the perception of ‘supplier’ or ‘distributor’, and add value for the customer by becoming an ‘expert’, becoming their ‘go-to’ guy, in their case for matters of security.  This will bring more customers, greater loyalty, repeat business and higher sales. 

Don’t sell locks, sell peace of mind

Once you start asking questions that relate more widely to your category the customer’s perception of you will shift, and that is huge!  My message to the locksmiths was that when the potential customer calls, they need to be ready with a few key questions that will transform them from simple supplier to trusted security advisor.  I suggested something like this:

  • Why are you calling, did someone break in? 
  • Are all the members of the household safe?
  • Is this door the primary entrance to your property? 
  • What other entrances are there?
  • Do you have an alarm system? 
  • Can you install an alarm yourself?

Now all of a sudden, it’s not about a lock, it’s about a deep-seated need for the security of the customer’s family, and that’s priceless.  You’re likely to sell more products more often if you can touch upon a nerve like this in your customers.

Find out what your customers dream of

Think about every great brand you know and you’ll see that most of their products are actually by-products of what customers are actually buying a piece of.  Take Harley-Davidson.  Harley Davidson has never sold motorbikes.  You see, for about $250,000, they sell the experience, the attitude, the chrome, the sound, the vibrations, the feeling of belonging to an exclusive club.  The bike comes for free.

Different demographics, different dreams

Harley made only one mistake: they got stuck on the dreams of an ageing customer demographic.  For decades the primary HOG rider has been easily recognizable to dealers: black leather, tight black T-shirt and so on.  But Harley’s new target audience includes more women and young guys who just a few years ago were riding skateboards in the skate park.  Focusing on a dinosaur customer base is not a forward-facing strategy.  So the trick for Harley is to figure out how their product appeals to this new demographic, enable them to indulge their own dreams and buy into what the Harley experience means for them. 

So if you want Serious Business Growth, stop thinking of yourself as selling products, start thinking of yourself as a provider of expertise, experiences and the indulgence of dreams!


Jack has literally “been there, done that”.  He founded one of the top five creative groups in his native England and then he did it all over again in right here at home in the United States.  His marketing agency became the #1 ranked in America.  Now as an author and consultant Jack speaks for companies who are looking to strengthen their brand and grow their business.

Jack’s meeting presentations and keynote speeches are high energy and loaded with information that he has proven to work in the real business world.  You will laugh at his stories, be excited by his delivery, but most importantly you will walk away with information that will help you go for serious long-term business growth. – 914 509 5170    

Copyright Jack Sims 2010