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Bust the “Buyer 2.0” Sales Myth

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Technology may power sales research, but people power the close.

Nothing has really changed in the sales world, although many pundits rant about the “new normal,” “new realities,” Buyer 2.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0….

They talk about the “informed buyer.” Is the so-called Buyer 2.0 more informed? Of course you are. We are all consumers; whether we want to buy a book, child’s toy, shoes, shampoo, or a computer, we have easy and immediate access to what others say about the product—did it fit the description, did it hold up or fall apart in a blink, did it work? The opportunities to share information, experience, and evaluation are numerous. (You need only read the reviews on Amazon or scan Yelp.)

(The Internet and technology are great, but you are the ultimate sales technology.)

Shift the “Decision to Buy”

The same holds true in business. Tons of information about potential clients and vendors is available via websites, social media, and through sales intelligence platforms. We learn about a company, its products, and approaches. We check on reputation, how a company operates, and the relevance and dependability of its products.

(Learn how to use social media to generate sales: watch “Social Media for Sales Professionals”.)

Marketing people tell sales professionals that up to 70 percent of a decision to buy is made before a prospect ever talks to a salesperson. Not in my world.

Yes, prospects research us and know about us. They know they need “something,” but do they really know what they need and what’s involved? Not always. In fact—not usually.

One of my technology clients proved this point. He encounters prospects who think they know what their problem is and may have already identified software to solve this problem. However, once my client’s salespeople ask the really good questions—the smart, information-gathering, critical questions that uncover the prospects’ real needs—frequently, the solution is far-removed from the prospects’ original concern. And, after all this illuminating questioning, it turns out that the prospects’ needs may not be a fit with my client and his company’s services and solutions. In which case, he and his team immediately refer the prospect to a trusted resource that can appropriately deliver.

Deliver Your Expertise

Here’s the great news: Buyer 2.0 needs us more than ever.  They need answers to questions they didn’t know they had. They need our perspective, examples of work with other clients, and an understanding commitment to what it really takes to deliver the perfect solution. Buyers need us to connect the dots between their business challenge and a solution that will impact their business results.

Deliver the Personal Connection

I’ll put it right up front: technology alone won’t deliver the complete answer. Never has and never will. Technology won’t deliver world peace or develop a cure for the common cold. It won’t fix our business-development, sales, or customer relationship management challenges.

Technology is a great tool, but selling is a person-to-person business. One of my clients sent me this wonderful message after we met for lunch before his retirement:  “Let’s get back together soon. I truly appreciate your knowledge and insights of the market.”

Buyer 2.0—welcome to my world!

Deliver Great Sales: Comment Here

Integrating technology and the personal connection deliver top-notch results (think: research online, connect in person). What works best for you? Where do you need help? I personally respond to all posts, so post now.

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11 Responses to Bust the “Buyer 2.0” Sales Myth

  1. Great points, Joanne. Buyers still need salespeople to lead them down the path of truly discovering that they need. Technology enables the process but it isn’t the sales process and that’s what some sales folks are missing. Sales is still a people business and though some like to suggest that we, as salespeople, won’t be needed in a few days, I don’t believe it. People buy from people.

    • Hi Barbara:

      Of course I agree with you. You and I are bucking the wave of pundits who say that the decision to buy has already been made by the time the buyer calls. Maybe if you sell widgets…

  2. Ian says:

    I’m going to disagree with you Joanne.

    While I don’t know about “70% of the decision being made before the buyer speaks to a salesperson” (personally, I have no idea what 70% of a decision actually is).

    What I do know though is that most buyers screen who we want to speak to. And we establish a favourite or pecking order way before we speak to them based on what we see online.

    So if you haven’t got the online stuff right, you’re not even getting into a bunch of conversations with potential clients – you’ve been screened out before you started. No matter how good you are at sales it’s difficult to sell if you never even speak to the client.

    And if they do speak to you and you’re not positioned right, it can be very tough. If someone else is in pole position you absolutely can turn it around like your technology client did.

    But isn’t it a lot easier not having to fight an uphill battle? To start out in pole position yourself?

    You must have had it yourself Joanne. People who’ve read your stuff on the web and who call you already wanting to work with you. If you do a decent job with them on the phone, they never look anywhere else – they just go with you.

    I get that. I assume you get that – otherwise why would you be writing great content on your website if not to attract great clients and pre-position yourself as they person they should be working with?

    Really, having a great online presence is just like getting a great referral. You don’t win that client every time – but it’s a brilliant start means you have much less work to do to win the sale.

    Ian

    • Hi Ian:

      I don’t disagree with you, at all. Yes, we must have a sensational online presence. That’s “a given” in today’s marketplace. (However, that news hasn’t gotten around to everyone.)

      The key point I was making is that technology alone won’t deliver all the answers. Buyers still want to talk. And, as salespeople, we need to ensure that our buyer is getting the correct product or service for his company. That’s why a conversation is essential.

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