A Few Pointers for Pre-Sales

Although they’re not the norm in every industry, pre-sales can be a great way for your business to drum up excitement about an upcoming product, and judge early customer interest. Pre-sales are primarily a B2C technique — if your focus is B2B, you’ll primarily work with prototypes and beta testing, and some of this advice may apply to you as well. Read on for a few tips on how to handle pre-sales in a way that will leave your customers happy.

  1. First, decide how to handle them. While many small businesses and artists use crowdfunding as a form of pre-sales, for a larger business that already has a sales infrastructure in place, there’s no reason to complicate things. Whether you sell directly to your customers or through retailers, you’ll need to work out the time window for pre-sales, and any other details such as whether there will be a discount price, special bonuses, or a limited number of pre-sales available. If you need the same sort of revenue injection that crowdfunding provides, consider bootstrapping or approaching venture capital firms or angel investors for help with your pre-sale initiative.
  2. The biggest issue with pre-sales is to make sure that you can actually deliver on time, even if you find yourself dealing with unexpectedly high demand or problems in your production pipeline. You should brainstorm about any potential problems and have contingency plans in place to ensure an on-time delivery.
  3. Sales and marketing should work together on how to promote this exciting pre-sale opportunity. Once sales has worked out the details on when where and how, turn marketing loose on letting your customers know.
  4. Maintain clear communication with your pre-purchase customers. Make sure they know when to expect their item, when they will be billed for their item, and if any unforeseen delays have arrived. Even if you’re not using crowdfunding, customers may now expect a similar process of receiving regular updates on the process of their order. Consider sending out teaser images of the item in production, or ready to ship.
  5. Speaking of shipping, it’s imperative to make sure that your pre-order customers receive their items on or before the day they land in stores or become available for the general public to purchase on-line. If you’re working with retailers or other third parties to fulfill your pre-orders, make sure they understand the importance of getting the item in your customer’s hands on or before the release date, or else what is the point of a pre-order?
  6. What’s the point? It’s the job of the sales team to convince the customer that they want to pay for the item now, before it’s out, rather than wait for the release day. If you can offer a discount, an order bonus, or early access, it sweetens the deal and helps you make pre-sales.
  7. How do you sell something that doesn’t exist? Your pre-order sales pitch may have to rely on concept art, mock-ups, and demos rather than an actual product. As such, you need to walk the line of being confident that the finished product will be amazing, without over-promising. Sales should work closely with production to make sure that your pitch presents an accurate picture of the forthcoming product.

Has your business used the pre-sale model in the past? If so, please share your experience in the comments!


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