Going green is proving to be the path to explosive sales growth.
Pioneering companies selling everything from soap (Unilever) to cars (Tesla) are winning customers and generating billions in revenues by offering more sustainable products. Today Unilever generates half of its sales growth from its Sustainable Living product line. Tesla just won $14 billion in pre-orders for its Model 3 electric car. A dozen companies now generate over one billion in annual sales of sustainable products. http://www.greengiantsbook.com Yet most companies still struggle with selling green products.
Here are some of the fatal flaws in a company’s typical sales (and sustainability) messaging:
- Fact based. Facts inform. They do not engage. And too often the facts are focused on what is important to the seller.
- Fear. “The earth is dying from heat!” This type of fear motivating messaging does gain attention. But the attention is like touching a hot stove. Reaction but not sales conversion.
- Jargon. We love our LCA and ZNE acronyms. Using them creates a communication barrier not unlike speaking a foreign language. For a listener it raises questions and potential mistrust.
- Immediacy. Saving the world and mankind is a compelling action item. But it is too big and long term for most of us. Effective sales communications creates a path to an immediate action.
Three steps to successfully selling sustainability and green products
Yes, it is not an even playing field for selling green products. Harmful products too often have lower prices (and sales advantage) because their emissions and pollution costs are not reflected at the pump, meter or cash register. In classic economic theory rational customers would understand this distinction. Behavioral economics knows better. People buy based on the lower sticker price. Tomorrow’s problems are for tomorrow. But green products can have explosive sales growth when they align with the consumer expectations.
The three steps to selling green products are:
- Hitting the customer’s hot button. Emotional connections sell. Rarely do we buy based on reason. We buy for the thrill of winning a huge discount. We buy to impress others. We buy to fulfill an emotional need to be handsome, funny or sexy. Green products, just like all products, sell when they hit the customer’s hot button.
- Today’s reward. People live in the now. For example, we feel guilty that we do not save more for retirement. Even with this quilt we still do not save enough. Is it a surprise that green products sit on the shelf because they offer long term problem solutions? Positioning a green product as the fulfillment of an immediate (and emotional) consumer need is the path to immediate sales success.
- Competitive prices. Sales sell. That is why every retailer has a sale every weekend. Buy one and get one free built a national clothing company. Trying to sell a green product with a higher price is a hard mountain to climb. Nailing a competitive price on a green product is the path to explosive growth. That is how Tesla pre-sold $14 billion of their Model 3 electric car priced at $35,000.
About the author
Bill Roth is a disruptive tech business pioneer that led teams in launching the first hydrogen fueled Prius and in developing one of the first non-thermal utility scale solar power plants. He has applied his behavioral economics expertise to develop disruptive pricing and consumer engagement digital platforms. Visit his LinkedIn profile to learn more on how Bill is coaching clients on disruptive technology strategies that win customers and competitive advantage.