Did you know a client needs to be exposed to a message three to five times before they will trust it? That’s according to a 2012 survey performed by Edelman.
How often do your sales executives get three to five shots at making a sale?
In today’s rapidly growing technology driven marketplace, consumers are doing more of their own research and that is creating a major shift for sales people. Most notably, it is changing the point in the sales cycle where sales professionals even enter the conversation. The effects of this are critical.
How Information Creates Late Sales Entry
In the hay day of sales, the client would have their “trusted advisor” that would come in and guide the organization’s technology adoptions.
The expectations of this trusted advisor were that they knew what technology was out there, they had access to demonstration of product, they would offer competitive/fair pricing and, of course, they were able to install the technology once it was procured.
With this set of priorities it made the role of the sales person invaluable to the organizations they served. They were needed to enter the sales process very early so they could help with needs analysis, introduction and vetting of products and ultimately the sale and implementation.
For technology sales this has done a 180 in the past few years. Tech buyers are now engaging with on average more than 10 pieces of online content prior to even starting their process of sourcing a supplier. This means they are about 70 percent into their buying decision prior to including a sales person.
Does this trend impact your business?
Think about it. Are your customers more or less often dictating the technologies they want implemented when you are brought in to deliver a proposal?
If the answer is “more,” you are likely experiencing the effects of the more informed customer that is doing more of their own research through online and social networking. This shift unfortunately means your role as trusted advisor might be less substantial than it once was.
That doesn’t mean you should give up; it means you should change the way you approach this new breed of consumer.
Working with Highly Informed Consumers
Do you fancy yourself as a highly informed consumer? When buying your cars, televisions or smart device, do you walk into the store and say, “Help me?” or do you walk into the store and say, “Here is what I need?”
I’ll bet most of you aren’t the former. Like your clients, you scour the web and ask friends what their experience has been with “XYZ” product. Do you think your clients are different? Probably not.
To work with highly informed consumers you need to do one of two things:
- Come prepared to take their knowledge and turn it into something more useful (problem solving).
- Be the source of the knowledge.
Ideally you will do both of these things, but sometimes it is hard to control where the consumption of information comes from. However, if you want to have more control early in the sales process it is a great idea for your organization to be doing the education early and often.
Say for instance that you want your clients to buy the newest unified communication platform? Then make education readily available through online content, live events, webinars and of course the face to face sales meeting.
(Note: When you do get those meetings make sure you are coming with some valuable ideas. Lunch doesn’t cut it anymore!)
In cases where you can’t get ahead of the curve, the key is making sure the value you bring solves clients’ problems beyond just knowing what technology they need.
If the client thinks they want a video solution from Cisco, help them figure out how to deploy it as widely as possible so they can get video on the desktop, in the huddle rooms and on mobile devices rather than just in the boardrooms and conference spaces.
Sales professionals who can take their clients knowledge and make it more valuable will long have their place, but beware the informed consumer is changing everything and it is the first of five trends that are transforming the tech sale for the foreseeable future.
If you are interested in keeping up with the ongoing release of the book, it is being showcased here on Millennial CEO and on Commercial Integrator. Check back weekly for excerpts:
1/10—Intro: Redefining the Sales Process
1/17—Trend 1: How Informed Consumers are Changing Everything
1/24—Trend 2: Why Your Response Time Must be Faster: The Impact of Immediacy on Customer Experience
1/31—Trend 3: Getting Creative: Your Business Value Lies In Your Creativity
2/7—Trend 4: The Role of The Human Network; Your Human Network
2/14—Trend 5: Don’t Sell Me. Show Me! Selling More by Driving Outcomes and Advocacy within Your Client Organizations
2/21—Trend 6: Customer Experience Trumps Everything Else You Do: Why Mediocre is the New Bad and Extraordinary Must be the Ordinary