I would like to continue on from a previous post (found here) and there is a new ‘Moment of Truth’, as Google calls it. Previously I recommended an e-book called ZMOT, which outlined a ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ for buyers. It says that once a consumer encounters stimulus related to a product or service, their first reaction is to hit the web. From the standpoint of a buyer, that’s fantastic! An increase in readily available information simplifies what or when to buy.
But how does this impact the sales person?
Sales people are increasingly being engaged once a buyer is already a step or two in their buying cycle; resulting in two main thoughts:
- What challenges does this create? How, as sellers, do we react?
- How do we “get in front” of our customers?
Both buyers and sellers want to be in control. A sales person’s preference is to initiate a call, identify a need with a prospect, customize a solution, and then implement it with their new customer (I over-simplified this process, I am aware: work with me). This process is linear and makes sense to all sales people; it is what we do day in and day out. A wrench gets thrown in our plans when a customer already knows what their issue is and has conducted research to find a solution that suits their need the best (they control the situation). What do we do? If we “go back” and attempt to re-visit a customer’s pain points, we run the risk of wasting time. But if we launch into “Sell Mode” we may not understand the complexities of a particular buyers situation; which can result in a misaligned solution or worse.
Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Each sales person is different, each buyer and their needs are different. My take: be different. I would guess that 8 of 10 sales people would regurgitate as much as they can, upon receiving the call from a prospect who seems ready to buy. “Blah blah company. Blah blah blah me. Blah blah blah blah buy.”
Sure, there are ways to phrase our statements that sound different, but most of the time we focus on our company and ourselves. Why not start with some questions? “Sounds like you have done your research. What sites did you find useful? Where was the most valuable information from? What prompted your research? What would you like my involvement to be?” The goal is to attain as much information about the stages of the buying cycle you missed, but without having someone retrace their exact steps. And why not try to gain some insight to how a prospect could arrive at their decision: future knowledge cannot hurt. Accepting that a buyer will conduct their own research and find their own information (read: relinquish control) allows sales people to approach a sales meeting with a different mindset. This can often be a hurdle in itself.
In order to truly be different, we need to go beyond the obvious. Understanding our customer’s buying cycle is critical, but again I feel we need to be able to bring more value than that. We need to sit on their customer’s side of the table, so to speak. We need to be engaged in their business; their goals, their challenges; their processes. THEM THEM THEM. Get it?
In part 2 I’ll address how we, as sales professionals, can start to “get in front” of our customers.
Until then, thanks for reading!