Image by TheeErin via Flickr
The good old days, for some sales and marketing people, were the days huddling up for the big presentation. All bent on creating the slide deck of all slide decks to wow the prospect. Everyone working on their portion of the sales pitch to be sure they are in tune and in the right key – just like an American Idol contest. Knowing full well they will be judged by a panel of buyers and waiting with anticipated breath to see if they make it to the next stage of the dance.
As the new buyer experience economy evolves, these so called good old days are faced with extinction. The sales pitch, as we’ve known it for the past few decades, is dead. Without belaboring the points that became more prominent the last few years, we all know that buyers are off doing their own thing in the early stages of the buying process. The digital capabilities of today doing the job salespeople of yesteryears did. This rapid transformation into a buyer experience economy is causing many organizations to look at what really matters to buyers. And what is becoming more evident is that buyers care more about the buying experience than ever before. I like what David Brock , author of the Partners in Excellence Blog, had to say in a recent interview:
“What you see in great sales organizations and great salespeople is that they focus not on the selling experience but the buying experience, and how to create a compelling buying experience for the customer and throughout the lifecycle of that customer.”
As noted in several articles I wrote on buyer experience, the case is becoming pretty clear: to succeed the focus must shift to creating a compelling buying experience. And the old sales pitching methods of yesteryears certainly don’t make for a compelling buying experience in today’s world.
If sales pitches are dead in the new buyer experience economy, then what are buyers responding to?
- Networking: it is weird to put this word here because it conjures up the old image of networking – as in working the room. However the digital age has opened up networking to a new level of accessibility for peers, colleagues, and influencers to communicate. I think using the word social networking is actually too limiting and refers to just a few digital platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It is getting more expansive than this.
- Educator Role: companies today must see themselves in the role of educators because buyers are expecting to learn a thing or two. And if they are not learning anything at all, well, you will have no value to them. In fact, I may go so far as to advocate a CEO give serious consideration to establishing a buyer education capacity in their organization.
- Media Integration: buyers today are responding well to organizations that create a compelling buying experience through integrating various types of media into an overall content strategy. Those doing it well are not those going only for the wow factor but know that their buyers are intent on receiving valuable knowledge.
- Advisory Role: as I see it, for many years, the term trusted advisor was tossed around a little too loosely. In theory, a good idea but it was focused on changing the perception of sales representative rather than being a real role and function changer. With the new buyer experience economy, we may actually be entering a period where this change in role can take place. Buyers are seeking advisors who can help them to navigate the digital spectrum of information as well as help with making assessments. This has some important implications for top selling organizations. It is time to dust off the reams of paper that exists around hiring criteria, skills, experience requirements, and training. It is time to do a serious evaluation of whether these are adequate in identifying people who can do well in an advisory role as well as serve as a counsel to buyers.
The changes in the economy, whether we look at the financial crisis or the rise of the digital age, is causing profound changes in the way ordinary consumers and business buyers go about making purchases. The question for today’s organizations is whether to stand still or transform – and with sales pitches being dead – it seems the latter is a better choice.