Crafting an experience is key to mastering the evolving sales relationship with customers.
In the digital economy, the buying process is much different. According to Google (2015), 89 percent of buyers now start their discovery process with an online search. They quickly gather huge amounts of information about competitors, prices, features, benefits – the whole enchilada. But interestingly, the world of vendors open to buyers on the web hasn’t eroded loyalty to local sources. In the end, according to InsideSales.com, 72 percent prefer to buy from someone nearby if the local vendor can match what they found on the internet.
This self-driven research comprises 85 to 90 percent of the sales cycle for today’s buyer. The bad news is, buyers are closer to making a decision by the time they reach out to potential sellers, and if you do get the call, you have one shot to close or you’ll lose them forever. Even worse, such buyers are totally focused on the commodity aspects of the sale like the lowest price, free shipping, and so on.
Into that environment came a group of internet-based disruptors that developed new ways to lead buyers to them. Companies like Amazon and Custom Ink have built and optimized their sales platforms specifically for the internet. In the process, they have effectively changed the way buyers expect to purchase.
It started with search engine optimization (SEO), which evolved to search engine marketing (SEM). Now it involves comprehensive omnichannel strategies that include SEO, SEM, social media, email marketing, and content marketing.
Here’s the key: The online platforms aren’t selling features and benefits. They’re selling experiences that result from buying through them. This makes it very hard for companies that take a more passive approach to compete. In the process I described earlier, companies are basically using their websites and any social ads they may be running to fish for prospects. Those who respond are searching for something they know they need, more or less immediately. The buyer finds you and everyone else, and selects the vendor who raised their hand higher and waved it more aggressively.
Aim for the Target
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The trick is to get in front of the buyer in a more targeted and efficient way.
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