Don’t buy into the hype. Your clients still need you.
Between 57 and 87 percent of the buying process is complete before a buyer ever contacts a company—at least that’s the case if you believe the widely quoted but ill-advised statistics floating around sales circles.
Busting a Bad Myth
Bob Apollo gives us the facts behind this fiction in his brilliant article, “The B2B buying decision process: challenging the 57% myth.” He explains where these numbers come from, why they’re taken out of context, and how they can harm your business development.
Here’s a snippet:
The worst possible thing that any smart B2B organisation could do is take the 57% statistic too literally, or to assume that late-stage engagement has somehow become the inevitable norm. We need to put the statistic into a broader context…
If they have a clear sense of what they want to buy—for example if it is a simple or relatively inexpensive transactional purchase or the re-ordering of the same or similar solutions, then it’s hardly surprising that the prospect may conduct most of the buying process online.
But if the problem is poorly defined, and the solution less than obvious, or if it involves a high-value complex buying decision process with multiple stakeholders, then the prospect is much more likely to be open to early engagement with potential vendors. (Read the rest of the article.)
Why Your Clients Still Need You
Bob got it right. Our prospects still need us just as much as they did before. But their needs have changed. They don’t need us to give them demos or canned sales pitches, because they can get all that online. What they do need is our expertise, industry experience, and insights about what does and doesn’t work. (Read my Forbes.com post, “Becoming A Thought Leader: 5 Ways To Prove You Know Your Stuff.”)
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Our job as salespeople is to offer solutions before prospects even know they have a problem. To do this, we have to ask the right questions, become trusted advisors, and set the stage for their success—not just our own. Let your competitors believe the myth. While they’re waiting for the phone to ring or for emails to come through, the deals are yours to win.