Book review: Oversubscribed

April 6, 2020
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The usual mode of doing sales is to focus on chasing leads and closing sales with anyone who is willing to do business with you. There’s another way where you select from the potential candidates the most suitable ones for your purposes.

This approach focuses on a small subset of potential customers who value what you are doing, appreciate your help and have the means to compensate you properly. You are not concerned about the total market in general or what is the consensus about the acceptable price level for your offerings.

The whole purpose is to focus on these customers and serve them better than anyone else: to delight those who value and want what you’re doing more than anything else. The process to become oversubscribed concentrates on understanding who are these people, how to find them and what is it exactly what they want.

The general principle is simple. You have a limited supply of something and more people demanding it than you are delivering. Turning away potential business plays into your advantage by signalling your high demand. This, in turn, makes your offerings even more desirable, attractive and viral.

You need to own your market to dictate the terms in your favour. Creating your niche separates you from the competition and makes it hard to compare you to other alternatives. It also means that you’re solving something better than anyone else, and this specialisation makes you successful.

People are interested in values and bigger reasons than just getting services rendered in business. This means building a loyal following and being clear about your integrity, values and philosophy are essential. It’s hard to like something or someone if you don’t understand what they stand for.

Gaining trust and closing sales does not happen overnight. It requires time, interactions and locations. More specifically the magic formula is 7 hours of quality time with 11 interactions in 4 different locations. The familiarity and acceptance require enough contact points to work, and this can be done with media and technology. Social media posts, articles, videos and other materials provide means to deliver your message and thinking to potential customers. Your tweets, meet-ups, guest appearances and podcasts are part of the process for people to become familiar with you, like you, and finally trust you.

Digitalisation is turning sales upside down. Buyers are doing most of the work via your marketing materials and information available to them, often in a digital format. They contact you only when they have already indicated interest towards your offerings.

Warming up the market is an important part of the sales process. Apple is very good at this when they are introducing new products to the market. They build up expectation and release out information gradually before telling exactly what they are selling and when it’s actually available. The same tension continues with the limited supply of products at first. This way they make sure there’s enough demand before starting to mass-sell the products.

Decision-making involves micro-steps that finally leads to sales. During these small steps, buyers are getting more comfortable with the purchase idea and your job is to guide them in this process by asking them small incremental commitments that serve as your sales signals.

In general, there are four market positions that enable you to become oversubscribed: innovation, relationships, convenience or price. Excelling in one of these categories is hard enough and usually, this is the choice you have to make: pick just one.

People are not buying what they need but rather they buy what they want. Emotions win the rational approach in many cases, and the purchase reasoning happens only after the fact. Your job is to create market conditions for buyers to take action and control the demand-and-supply tension to your benefit. Seeing other people wanting and appreciating what you’re doing for them brings social affirmation for the purchase decision.

All this is pretty simple in theory. You need to be brave enough to be different, find your way, stand by your values and philosophy, set your terms, delight your customers and embrace their successes. The harder part is to do this long enough without compromising your mission and stay the course despite the expected hardship and rough journey before the sunshine of being oversubscribed arrives.