With the dawn of the Internet of things and mobile technology, we are witnessing a dramatic shift in customers’ buying behaviour. The commoditisation of data means that almost everything a customer wants to know about a product is usually just a few clicks away.
According to Jamie Domenici, VP of marketing at Salesforce, 62 per cent of the sales cycle typically happens before a sales rep is involved, meaning a prospective customer is making decisions about a product or service without a sales rep’s involvement. By the time they approach the seller, they generally have a clear idea of the problem they need to resolve, the solutions that are available in the market, and the price they’re willing to pay. This change in buying pattern is calling out for a fundamental shift in how businesses prospect for new customers.
Let’s look at how successful brands are now positively disrupting traditional sales models to reach out to customers in novel ways.
1. They create an enabling environment – Consumers today increasingly rely on user-generated content and reviews for information, thereby demanding more control over how they manage their work and personal lives. Acknowledging this shift, successful brands are focusing on creating enabling environments that support the buyer’s need to research and interact with other users as well as the products before eventually interacting with the salesperson. While the buyer enjoys more control over what he or she is sharing about the brand, the brand enjoys a more authentic and evolving brand story shared through word-of-mouth, influencing people much more powerfully than before.
2. They build deeper human connections – Successful brands focus more on what experience they want their customers to feel rather than what they want them to know about the brand. One of the prime examples of an authentic, relatable brand is Southwest Airlines. Some time back a little boy waved at a Southwest airplane on the taxiway at the airport. To his delight, the pilot inside waved back. The boy’s mother, delighted with the response, took a picture and posted it on Facebook. Moments like these become much more compelling selling arguments than expensive ad campaigns.
3. They are authentic – Amidst the din of social media and over communication, consumers are now increasingly adept at sifting through enormous amounts of promotion to spot authentic brands. They are more socially aware and take their perceived ethical responsibilities seriously. So they also support and prefer to align themselves with brands that espouse the same ethos and understanding.
4. They help customers solve a problem - Moving beyond offering specialized content or user friendly apps, successful companies go deeper into customer usage patterns to deliver disruptive insights and bespoke solutions into customers’ businesses, helping them create significant value for their lives.
5. They create an immersive brand experience – Every customer journey goes through several stages, starting with expression of interest to consideration to sale to post-sale and repeat purchase. Successful brands create an entire trajectory of the buying cycle, starting with customers’ initial interactions and going on to create step-by-step immersive experiences. Every customer engagement is used to deliver insights to better serve the next engagement—either online or offline.
6. Prospecting after refusal – While most sellers might shy away after a customer refuses a sale, successful companies don’t give up on the interaction, just yet. They know that each engagement holds positive potential. While many use the experience to draw some new customer insight, some go ahead as far as asking for a referral. This is because they understand that humans by their very basic nature are inclined to be nice.
To be successful be aware of the dramatic shift in customers’ buying behavior.
Azim Jamal. Blog.corporatesufi.com