7 Forces Disrupting Sales – #1: The Highly Informed Buyer
In our previous post, we outlined seven forces that are having a major impact on sales organizations. Over the past two years, we’ve written extensively about the first force of change that is disrupting sales strategy and execution. Quite simply, it’s the new world of highly informed buyers. In 2014, virtually all sales organizations are keenly aware of this phenomenon. They know that buyers are often more than 50% of the way through the purchasing process, before connecting with a salesperson. And, they already have a hypothesis forming for how to meet their needs or solve their problems.
Recent research amplifies the trend of buyers becoming informed and savvy “comparison shoppers.”
- The industry analyst firm, Sirius Decisions, conducted research in 2013 and found that online searches are executives’ first course of action when researching a potential purchase. They also discovered, for most B2B purchases, buyers do not rely on suppliers’ salespeople to provide them with educational information.
- In a 2013 BuyerSphere study of B2B purchasing trends, the first choice of executive buyers for information on potential suppliers is browsing their websites.
- A 2013 Zogby Analytics study of over 1,000 buyers discovered that “Today’s buyers are increasingly using the Internet to research, inquire, and purchase a variety of high-value products and services, for both business and personal use. Most buyers are well-informed prior to engaging with vendors due to the amount of research they perform prior to contact.”
The logical question then, is, “What is your sales organization doing to adapt its thinking and approach to the realities of the new buyer?” We won’t completely address that question here, but there are several major aspects of the “sales machine” to consider.
1. Sales Process/Methodology
It’s critical to re-calibrate thinking about process and selling methods with the understanding that initial interactions with buyers are taking place much later. If traditional, linear sales processes are being disintermediated, then new playbooks for “preemptive” selling, as well as effective “responsive” selling, are required.
2. Sales Talent/Competencies
Adapted sales “playbooks” will require some completely new capabilities and competencies for successful selling. Sales organizations will need talent assessment models that reflect these new competencies, as well as updated learning and development assets to support them.
3. Sales Technology/Enablement
Sellers must become highly effective “micro-marketers.” They must become capable users of new social media tools and technologies to get back to the “front” of the sales cycle. To accomplish this, sellers need to become “social media literate” to engage where and when buyers are forming their initial ideas about a potential problem or opportunity.
Over the next several weeks, we will explore each of the seven forces disrupting sales, and touch on key ramifications for sales strategy and execution. Then, we’ll tie it all together with an integrated approach to create a change-resilient sales organization. Next up, the accelerated pace of change in the sales person’s environment.