Are Your Products Bought or Sold?

bought-or-soldThe answer probably isn’t what you think.

Over the course of 25 years I’ve heard this question surprisingly frequently. It’s one usually asked by new entrepreneurs and is a reminiscent of entry level business courses.

What’s shocking is when established businesses ask this. Here’s a quick tip, the answer is always yes. Your products are bought and your products are sold.

The bigger answer depends on the point in your business career that you ask that, and the context in which you ask it.

When your sales lead asks the question

This question is fine to ask by a sales lead, as long as the context in is setting compensation plans for an inside sales team. If the answer to the question in this context is the products are bought, then the department is set up with order takers and customer service reps. Otherwise you need a new sales lead.

When your marketing lead asks the question

If the question is asked to gauge the perception of the company overall, to set the expectations and work at hand by a new hire, it means they are looking to find out how the organization views marketing as a whole.
Otherwise, you need a new marketing lead.

When the owner/head of the company asks the question

If the question is being asked to gain input of the other department leads, to understand their perspectives and starting points, as part of a lead in session about business and how businesses actually work, typically as part of an intern educational session or speaking engagement, that’s fine, it becomes a rhetorical question, part of a lead in.
Otherwise, you need to find a new company to work for.

Products are bought and sold.

That’s the nature of marketing and sales.

Customers don’t accidentally choose your products, even if you’re in a saturated market and pick it up out of convenience or need. Everyone needs toilet paper. Yet toilet paper companies advertise their brands, extolling their benefits, improving every year. The stores that sell toilet paper also advertise to convince customers to choose them over their competitors.

When you go to the grocery store you buy toilet paper, but you buy the brand you were sold.

Genuinely asking the question of whether your products are bought or sold suggests you have a bigger issue to address.