So, for starters, the title to this post poses a bit of a trick question because significant research suggests it is in fact a fact.
Buyers have become so adept at doing initial purchase research that they no longer need or have the patience for a sales presentation on the benefits of your widget. Ironically, this applies doubly for B2B, big ticket items where you might think a little face time would be a good thing.
A CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers across industries revealed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier.
So, what does this spell for the typical sales and marketing professional? You better find a way to make your marketing as useful as your products. That’s right, sales and marketing is no longer about being found and providing educational information – those are still important, but today you better have prospects looking to you as an adviser, teacher, time saver, problem solver and guide on life’s journey or what’s the point.
I repeat – it’s not just your product or service that must perform – it’s your actual sales and marketing process that must provide these things as well.
This same CEB study also found that 53% of those surveyed claimed that the sales experience itself was one of the greatest contributing factors in continued loyalty to the brand.
The feeling is that most products, services, brands and even pricing are about the same, but the sales experience, or value, ease and insight delivered during the actual process of buying, was what tipped the scale.
Two recent books hit this theme pretty hard. Mitch Joel’s CTRL+ALT+DEL (Check out interview with Mitch Joel here) and Jay Baer’s Youtility (Ships June 27th – look for an upcoming interview Jay.) And of course CEB’s book derived from the extensive sales research cited in this post called The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. (Check out interview with Matthew Dixon here)
So, how do you make your sales process more useful?
Let’s say you were shopping for some running shoes. You search around and find a few sites that seem to specialize in the selection you are looking for and a couple even provide lots of information and reviews from other runners. But, you’re not sure which $150 pair of shoes are right and that’s enough money that you want to get it right.
So, you fire off a couple questions to sites that seem the most informational. One sends you back some specs from the manufacture and then Patton Gleason from OptimalRun.tumblr.com sends you a personal video showing you all 3 shoes you were considering and telling you why, based on your needs, which one he suggests.
Now, you tell me – is that sales process useful?
And, the beauty of this kind of sales process is that it actually favors the little guy.
Here’s what some of his customers had to say – sounds like they found his sales process useful!
“It was amazing and so helpful and kind: I finally felt like someone was actually listening to me instead of just trying to rush me into making a purchase.”
“You’re too great – this is awesome that you answer with a personal video.”
“Thanks again so much for your help, it especially helps to be able to see the shoes other than just in photos.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the bar today. Creating marketing and sales insight that’s so useful people would be willing to pay to receive it.
So, what can you to create a much better buying experience in your business? What have you seen others do that you would like to share?