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.
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.
Sales messaging template that sells
I use email best practices for insights on how to develop effective sales messaging. Think about the challenge to craft an email that is actually opened. Then there is the challenge of gaining a response to an email. Professionals who can create effective emails are sales super stars!
The following is an email template I love:
Headline: Exciting subject line. Emphasis on the word “exciting.” Your green product description needs to emotionally connect with, and excite, a customer.
Enticing Offer: A product has to have a motivating reasons for a consumer to buy it. Emphasis on motivating. What about your green product will move the customer from interest to “I have to have this!” Is it a bargain or special price offer? Will it win the customer positive recognition from their peers?
Personal Connection: Use a conversational tone. Align, don’t preach or point fingers. No big words or acronyms. Your tone needs to align with their personal journey toward feeling great about themselves.
Proof: Provide the customer with an example of a business or person like them that has purchased your green product and loves it. Testimonials are like chocolate donuts. Hard to resist, haha!
Keep It Simple: I love you. Three words. Maybe the most powerful three words in life. Do you ever say those words and not expect some type of reaction? Preaching to the choir, sustainability professionals just have too much to say. We know so much and we have great insights. But not for sales. Think Twitter. If you can say it in 140 characters then you have said a lot! Miller Brewery achieved the second largest beer product sales volume when they launched Miller Lite with just these four words, “Taste better, less filling.”
About the author
Bill Roth is the author of The Boomer Generation Diet, now on sale at Amazon! Here’s what Jen Boynton, Editor in Chief of Triple Pundit says about the book: ”Written in Bill Roth’s lovable, relatable tone. The Boomer Generation Diet is a must-read for any Boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it!” Follow Bill on Twitter and Facebook.