Do Buyers Even Need Sales People Any More?
by Shawn Karol Sandy, on Sep 14, 2014 2:10:00 PM
It’s an amazing marvel to watch my 5 year old work technology. Navigating Netflix on a tablet or doing Math games on a computer, I am in awe at how easily and intuitively they navigate something that is mystical, perplexing and a continuous moving target. They have no context of B.I. (Before Internet) and they have no fear of making permanent mistakes like their parents and grand parents do because they’ve never lived in a time without access to immediate answers and vast, VAST amounts of information.
The internet has revolutionized most every aspect of our lives for the better and some say, for worse.
One group that the internet has really thrown for a loop is Sales Professionals.
Sales used to be like this: seller, product, buyer. Seller controlled the information and education about the product and released information to buyer in the Sales Cycle. We lived in the era where the sales process was initiated, lead and controlled largely by the seller. Sellers used information as leverage to earn the sale.
Thank you, Internet. And Email, and Google and Social Networking.
The Connected Economy has Forever Changed the Consumer Experience and has Revolutionized B2B Selling
We're living in the age of the buyer and customer and it’s all about the Customer Experience
The process – means, methods and resources – used by buyers and customers has flipped and shifted the information leverage to the buyer. Buyers have more advanced knowledge, industry insight, access to expertise and very critical – access to other buyers and the experiences, perspective and reviews of those buyers. Buyers are having “Learning Parties” via Search and Social media . . . and they are not inviting sellers. At least not right away.
Information is No Longer the Key of the Seller; Information is the Muscle of the Buyer
Google is a verb now. It was a seemingly obscure, random word which has now transcended a proper noun & surpassed its context as a search engine. Google is a verb, an action, a solution to questions. I’m going to “google” something.
People filter and trust what they find on the internet—and if you’re not found on the internet, you don’t exist.
Consumers are reading reviews and asking for opinions from people they trust. Who do Buyers trust? Other buyers!
94% of people participate and rely on Word of Mouth referrals and do NOT trust advertising or company scripted messaging. Buyer to Company Trust = 33%. Buyer to BUYER trust = 92%.
Peer to Peer trust is at an all time high and thus we’ve seen a growth in 3rd Party Validation, Implied and Actual Endorsements as marketing strategies. Buyers trust their peers, they trust people in their networks and are influenced by those networks.
By the time a buyer reaches out to a company, they have completed 57% to 70% of the buying process. And Executives: 86 percent use their tablet and 72 percent of executives use their smartphone to conduct research for products or services for their business. (IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014).
How do sellers impact a decision to buy when they enter the decision making process 2/3 of the way in to the decision?
Imagine you call your spouse to discuss dinner plans—you’re thinking pizza or burgers—and they say, “We’re at the sushi joint—do you want spicy tuna or a California roll?” You’re late to the party to bring your own agenda to the discussion.
Buyers do not need sellers to tell them about the features, capabilities or benefits of their product. Modern, sophisticated buyers know what they need. They’re educating themselves through search and social and other customers’ experiences and through the user reviews and recommendations within their own companies. They know most of the differences in features from your product and your competitors’ products (terms, capabilities, location).
They know what they value and have weighed their decision making criteria and for the most part, how much they are willing to invest in the solution to their problems.
So what is left to talk about? WHY do BUYERS need sellers?
Because the one thing that buyers cannot clearly discern on their own is what it’s like to work with you and your company.
Buyers gain information not insight from their research.
They can glean organizational structure from your web page but not your corporate culture. They can get someone else’s perspective, but until they have direct contact with your company, they don’t know what they will experience in working with you.
Step into the shoes of a potential buyer:
- What Insight can you offer to me as a customer?
- What customer stories can I relate to?
- How do I relate to your company as credible? Authentic? Trustworthy? Transparent?
When I engage with you, are you going to confirm my decision, validate my research, highlight inconsistencies, dive deeper in to my problems, provide additional expertise, share relevant customer stories, advocate for my business, align with my company culture, work within our operating structures?
There is still plenty of value that must be demonstrated by the seller. Sellers’ roles have just morphed into something beyond our previous context of features, benefits and capabilities that are packed into a neat presentation.
Sales People Show Buyers What it’s Like to Work with You and Your Company
They demonstrate your business's credibility, authenticity and transparency. Sales People aren’t going away. Value is Learned, Trust is Earned. People, not presentations, win business.