Crafting an experience is key to mastering the evolving sales relationship with customers.
It’s no secret that the way customers buy from us is changing, big time. The internet has forever transformed the way buyers research, find, evaluate, and connect with sellers. It’s all part of the disruptive transition from the old analog economy to the new digital one.
As I watch this transformation, I’m reminded of the classic character Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s iconic play, “Death of a Salesman.” Loman was an old-school shoe salesman who hit the road with a suitcase full of samples and brought orders back to his company. But the market changed and the buyers no longer responded the way they used to. The play ends tragically with Loman committing suicide because he couldn’t adapt to the changes.
Not to be overly dramatic, but the situation we’re facing today is much the same. The old ways of finding a buyer, pitching the features and benefits of what we do, and then closing the deal are gone. Today, we face a new kind of buyer, one who has used the internet their entire life and who considers potential vendors in a completely different way.
In the old sales model, buyers would find our ad in a newspaper, trade magazine, the Yellow Pages, or at a tradeshow. They might even send in a coupon for a brochure. They would glean what they could from these sources before reaching out to a salesperson for more information.
This discovery phase amounted to only about 15 percent of the entire sales process. The following 65 to 70 percent was a protracted courtship between the salesperson and the buyer. Relationships had to be developed. The salesperson would continually offer “trial balloon” closes where they would test the buyer for receptiveness.
Finally, the process would reach the close phase, the final 15 to 20 percent. Basically, the buyer was bullied into placing an order by the salesperson. Buyers hated it, and still do.
They hated it so much that it led to something called buyer’s remorse, a post-sale phase where the buyer regrets their decision and tries to cancel the deal. The resentment grew so bad that now there is an official three-day cooling off period, giving the buyer three days to change their mind or get a full refund.
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