Experts Offer Winning Strategies for Selling High-Priced Solutions

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"We went to a client recently and found out their marketing budget was completely tapped," recalled Krystle Kopacz, CEO, Rev, on an SIIA webinar earlier this month titled Lead Generation Strategies for High-Priced Products and Services: A Holistic Approach. "It dissuaded us that we were late—we were pitching a solution for account based marketing, a new product we were offering.

"But then we found out that this would actually come from the company's sales budget, which had a ton of money in it. So [you need] to ask the right questions about where budgets reside. Try to be a strategic partner—even if you have to cobble together to do something special."

Kopacz and Brenton Flynn, marketing director, Investing Daily, each presented a successful approach to selling your higher priced items. Flynn's biggest takeaway was to always offer the immediate upsell. "If you don't have that, you need to add it," he said. "A one-click offer to buy another product."

After not having success with a $700 product, Flynn went to a much lower buy-in. It worked. Twenty percent of the people who paid $60 then bought that same $700 product, discounted to $600 after the buy-in. "Think about how you sequence your offers and price points," Flynn said. "That generated thousands of new subscribers for us."

Kopacz offered a six-step approach to selling higher priced products. (The webinar can be accessed by members at this link.)

1. Content marketing. Create less commodity blog posts and more uncommon research. "If we want people to pay attention to our high-priced services, then any content we put out has to be good enough for people to want to pay for it," Kopacz said. She encouraged doing case studies—"How [few] case studies we have that prove business success!"—and what she calls "uncommon research."

"Conduct research on your entire audience," Kopacz said. "Put out client surveys asking audience perceptions. Offer incentives, give gift cards, or agree to donate money to charity for each response. Analyze it. What is the perception of client x vs. client y?" From there you can present the data you learn, build and distribute an analysis, contact companies to set up meetings, and show how your marketing services and media can help them solve issues.

2. Paywall stratgegy. Do less metering and more Pro services or differentiated work tools. "It's a subtle difference but metering is taking something away and Pro services is offering something additional," Kopacz said. "And workflow tools save companies time and money." She believes in giving qualified leads a free 7- or 14-day trial to try your product or service. "Only put stuff behind the paywall that is most in demand—competitive data, industry benchmarks, research studies."

3. Inside sales strategy. Use less cold calling to push the product, and more marketing and trusted adviser positioning. Kopacz said that a CMO of a billion dollar company recently told her that what it used to take 25 calls to achieve, it's now taking 65 calls. "You're not just selling them a product," she said. You're becoming an adviser.

4. Events. Go from passive attendance to speaking and presenting. If possible, Kopacz urges parlaying your "uncommon research" into speaking gigs at other conferences. If not, try to organize smaller events, a dinner or breakfast, at these events. And stay away from big, non-targeted events.

5. Conversions. Offer less hounding via phone calls and more surrounding across all platforms. Kopacz believes that publishers need to build a better proposal. "If you look at adjacent companies like agencies and information services companies for their proposals," she said, "you'll see big differences. [Publishers] need to address program management, references and case studies... Leverage discount pricing if they sign by a certain date. Or leverage pilot pricing if it looks like a good renewal possibility."

6. Upselling – Use team selling and client buying research. Besides your sales people, Kopacz urges you to bring someone who represents content and technology to any meeting to demonstrate their expertise.  

Flynn actually became a professional golfer for a couple years and has brought that same drive into the financial publications arena. "This is my new competitive outlet; it's a place you can measure yourself every day," he said. Here are six of his takeaways:

1. A single offer can totally transform your business. He learned this from a stint at The Motley Fool. "There's not as much competitive intelligence being done, especially if you're a smaller player," he said. "Find competitors that are sustainably playing in your markets. Find similar models. Try to understand at that intimate level."

But he doesn't want you to "reverse engineer" something unless you know their demographics, formats, traffic sources and ad copy. "We've spent most of the time here improving ad copy, a lot that we've learned from larger competitors."

2. "Create an offer inspired by competition, not copied but inspired." Or take an existing offer of your own and tweak it. About the aforementioned $700 product that wasn't working, Flynn said this was an area where retirees look to generate conservative income. "But we didn't have the leads and buyers. So we splintered out the lower value features and turned it into a low-ticket offer. It went from $700 to $39 for one year and $79 for two. He believes this type of strategy can work in other areas as well.

3. Stop thinking of your market as a winner-take-all place. "Financial publishers are notorious for this," Flynn said. "Swap email lists with competitors. They use multiple providers. Our next best traffic source is our competitors. Opportunity costs.

4. Try to develop internal media buying competencies. It's invaluable to have someone who you consider a distribution expert.

5. Think of innovative ways to position your products and services. Flynn called this his taco tip. He marveled at all the ways that Taco Bell can come up with to market basically the same thing. A lot of publishers get in a funk to think of new ways to sell," he said. "We're selling investing advice, the best stock to buy. Can be kind of boring." Be innovative.

6. Good copy is not as much written but assembled. A lot of times you can reassemble sequencing in sales letters or points made, or perhaps add a pitch in phone sales that might be appealing and resonate with people. "At minimum, it will make your offer feel fresh again," Flynn said. "Even just reordering your points."

In the questions period, both speakers emphasized the need to test. Kopacz said you can try different incentives to get people to respond to your survey. "Donating $1 or $5 for any charity in our market might cut out that lower level person who's just doing it to get the gift card and won't add to the research study," she said.

Flynn again suggested testing different prices, where a two-step upsell can be in order. He gave a list of competitive research tools that he's used: Moat, Similarweb, Adbeat and Whatrunswhere, most running perhaps between $50-$100 a month.

Kopacz urged the use of Google Trends—"it's still under-leveraged by sales teams," she said—and MediaRadar. She also said to try testing in social media with platforms that allow you to mix and match with photos, headlines, blurbs and calls to action. "They will show you performance in real time," she said. "No other media offers that surround-sound approach."

She stressed the importance of getting face-to-face meetings for the high-ticket items. Although Flynn does not do much face-to-face, he did say, "Every new lead we acquire is a new relationship."

Again, the webinar can be accessed by members through the SIPA Webinar Library at this link.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…