Have you missed the change in your prospect’s decision process?


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With the growing influence of the web on purchase decisions, particularly for high–risk or complex business–to–business sales, the traditional way of thinking about the purchase process no longer applies.

Begin with one key fact: 74% of purchasers conduct research on the internet before they even contact a company for the 1st time.

We all know that; don’t we research before buying a bike, a car, a house, personal insurance and so on?

The larger the dollar amount, and the greater the risk, the more research we will do before we contact a providing company. One of the reasons why is because we fundamentally don’t trust advertising or sales anymore. Now, that may be a difficult fact for salespeople to understand, yet by understanding it they can become even more effective than before.

The goal for us when we conduct our research is to obtain independent assessments of different products and unbiased answers to the critical questions that we have. Armored with that information, we then feel prepared to engage in the selling process. We find that information on Facebook, customer reviews, Twitter, independent web reviewers and so on. Not to mention our friends — now we can do a “shout-out” and ask our network if they have experience or learnings from buying the specific product or service. Not only do we seek independence information prior to the sales process; in fact, we will go back over and over again to the web to provide confirming or disconfirming data as we engage with company salespeople and then present that information to influencers in our lives.

Word of mouth was always there — but before the internet it was slow, sequential and difficult to find. Not anymore. The insights come as fast as a Google search, and are considered far more credible than anything a salesperson can offer.

So if you are in a business–2–business complex selling environment, how can you use this insight to your full advantage?

  1. Create the right content. Remember, you have some deep-seated expertise in your category. What are the key questions that your prospects need answered? What questions “trip them up,” so that they never seem to get to a decision? You know these questions and you know the answers. Write it. As Joe Friday said, “just the facts, ma’am,” no spin, just the unvarnished truth. Now, the truth can lead to your product, that is fine, but you have to earn trust with content, remember that,
  2. Find the right content. If others have written the answers to your prospects’ questions, that is fine too. In fact, if they are unbiased (e.g. industry analysts) then even better. Bring that information to your prospects and you bring the credibility of those outside sources with you.
  3. Stop selling. I have not lost my mind — listen to me. Your prospect does NOT want to be sold, and all the transparency of the Web is out to get you. Anything you say or write can be instantly validated, and if you spin it, you will get caught. Rather than sell, fill the information needs of your prospects, earn trust and the sales will come to you.
  4. Measure, measure, measure. As opposed to white papers and trade shows, it is very easy to measure the impact of good content. Simply put, does your prospect read the materials and do those materials fill their information gaps and move them along to the next question and eventually on to a sale? Email and web analytics are your friend in this process. So is Marketing, since content-based selling is essentially where Marketing meets Sales to drive revenue.
Albert Einstein is attributed to have said that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. If you think your sales process has become more complex, it has. Your customer has changed — they now have access to all the information you do, and maybe even more. You can either influence the information your prospect consumes, or get blown along with it.
“Stop the insanity” and become the content supply and assist your prospects to answer their questions. Your result will be trust, and the sale.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (www.liftpointconsulting.com), a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at www.liftpointconsulting.com/blog and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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