There has been a quiet revolution going on.
In the earlier days of my career, sales teams used to sell things.
If you wanted to buy something that you didn’t know a whole lot about, you had to ask a salesperson who would then use your enquiry as an opportunity to try to get you to buy what they had to sell; ideally signing you up there and then. You pretty much had to rely on the information they gave you as they were the only real source of that information. The system tended to work but much of the power (the information) was in the hands of the seller. This approach still continues (or tries to!) in some major high-street retailers, but (IMHO) most of them are rubbish and, to be fair, the majority are now getting the message and starting to try to move to a more customer-focused style.
Knowledge is power – and Google is my friend!
The internet has levelled the playing field. Now if you want to buy something, a quick search on Google® can give you seemingly endless information:
- Professional reviews
- Customer testimonials
- User forums
- Video reviews
- Where to buy
- Who has stock
- Best prices
The internet has moved the power from the seller to the buyer. People don’t sell things anymore, people buy things, based on what they know. But here there lies a new problem.
I read it on the internet so it must be true!
Err no! Unfortunately, the internet has become so ubiquitous that it is used by some to promote inaccuracy. They take the view that if they shout loud enough and long enough, people will hear them – and believe them. You now need new skills to be able to read up on a subject (or product) of interest and learn how to filter what people are saying to almost ‘read between the lines‘ with the aim of getting somewhere close to the truth…a process which actually opens up new opportunities for the sales team.
In 2017, the job of a seller is to inform and advise, to demonstrate knowledge and, most important build confidence in a potential customer that they can meet the customer’s need and solve their problem at an acceptable cost. If they do this then they become more a trusted advisor than a sales rep.
There is hope – maybe
The other week I was exploring the possibility of upgrading a wifi router. It was a bit special because I needed the facility to include a SIM card to access mobile data. I had bought one a few years ago but the performance was becoming less than I needed as it couldn’t keep up with the latest mobile data developments.
Anyway, I called the specialist company that had supplied my existing router to be told one of their technical specialists would call me back – they didn’t!. Disappointed by the lack of response I went to explore other options but nothing quite matched what I was looking for. Eventually, I found myself back on the website of the original supplier. Despite the fact that they had let me down by not returning my call, their specialist products brought me back for another look- the advantage of having a Unique Selling Proposition!
However, as this time I simply visited their website, I could see what products are available and which would best suit my need, and so I could make my decision.
I now knew which router I needed so the purchase moved from technical to a commodity. I no longer needed information and expertise I just needed a good price.
So did they get the sale? I’m afraid not. Selling is dead – Long live buying. The same product was available on Amazon at 35% less – but that’s another story!
This shows the importance, even in a business selling quite specialist technology, of having competitive prices. The internet can be pretty brutal!
Got any questions about marketing your business? Drop me a line