Selling Products In Development

If memory serves me correctly, the event was in Los Angeles and the attendance was somewhere around 400 people. Our back of the room crew was primed and ready to go, and then it happened. That table rush that every speaker selling from the platform dreams of was happening right before his eyes!

Dozens upon dozens of people rushed the table to place their order for his latest “magic blue pill” solution to website development. Our team processed sale after sale and when all was said and done this one speaker had generated nearly $375,000 in sales. It was definitely a day to remember.

But then there was a slight problem. Well, maybe not slight, significant would be a better word. The promised software solution that the speaker’s team was putting the finishing touches on didn’t work. For whatever reason, they couldn’t fix the issue they had, and every single sale had to be refunded—all $375,000 worth.

It was humiliating for the speaker and financially devastating for both the speaker and the event promoter.

Unfortunately, this scenario played out again a year or two later at another event our team was handling in Vancouver, British Columbia. This time the speaker sold a product that was also in the developmental stage, and he stated that the product would be ready in a week or so. Invariably, a week turned into two weeks and then into four and all those attendees that had purchased his product requested a refund. Fortunately, it wasn’t to the tune of $375,000, but it still ended up with the speaker having a lot of egg on his face and creating embarrassment and some financial challenges for the event promoter.

I’ve found that, over the course of my business career, that this timing pretty much runs true. If you think something is going to take a week, it takes two. If you think it’s going to take two, then it’ll be three to four. Think about it, you know it’s true!

Now, you’ve probably heard people talk about following the concept of sell it first and then develop it if it sells. And, for a coaching program, training program, or webinar series I think that’s fine. Creating the content as you go has been a very successful approach for many speakers, including Armand. Just be sure you’re able to deliver what you promise to your students in the timeframes that you’ve promised.

In my opinion selling any product or service that’s in development is a very dangerous game to play. If you’re unable to deliver it’s embarrassing for you, and it could be a financial nightmare in both the short term and the long term.

Why the long term? Well, let me ask you this. How many event promoters are going to invite you back to their stage when they’ve had that kind of experience with you? And remember, promoters talk, so word will get about what happened.

I personally recommend never selling a product or service that isn’t fully developed (with the exception of content delivery). There may be those that disagree with me, but first-hand experience has shown me the dangers of going down that path.

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Bret Ridgway

Find out more about Bret Ridgway and the services Speaker Fulfillment Services can provide you at SpeakerFulfillmentServices.com.

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