One of the most profound shifts in the current sales experience has nothing to do with the modern-day sales executive; the change lies wholly within the mind of the prospect. Contemporary sales teams are challenged most by a single factor: the educated consumer. This data-driven, all-access world we live in accelerates communication, information sharing and transparency — all with the click of a button.
Long before purchasing a product, today’s consumers are highly knowledgeable of their options within any given market. They no longer look to sales professionals to provide neither information— nor do they trust brands as de facto qualified resources. It’s not just that buyers start the sales process without you; research demonstrates that consumers typically complete most of the purchase journey before having any contact with sales. In fact, according to Forrester Research, the average buyer has completed between 60 and 90% of their decision-making process before engaging a sales professional1.
There is no doubt that by the time your sales teams interact with them, prospects are far more informed about your business than you are about theirs.
As a result of greater access to and familiarity with information, customers are demanding more expertise from sales representatives. Sales personnel must adapt to this transforming environment or face extinction. Sales people must transform into expert consultants who gather new customers, while maintaining their base.
Understanding why and how to engage with today’s social business environment starts with recognizing changes in buyer communication patterns, product knowledge and online behavior. Sales pros must learn how to tap directly into the digital origins of these new concepts. We know customers are online and that they use the Internet to research purchases. As consumers evolve, so must sales professionals, particularly in their use of modern communication tools, such as social media.
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These new communication avenues will allow sales teams to be where their customers are, regardless of geographical boundaries. Consider the following:
- Inside sales is growing 300 percent faster than outside sales2. The shift is towards inbound sales teams and new tools for prospecting — do you know what these are and how to use them?
- Sellers must adapt their processes, tools and training to find and engage the right people and build their professional networks.
- Regardless of these new tools, we are all still human beings, wired with our “Old Brains.” How can sales professionals combine biology with technology to reinvent customer conversations?
- The importance of context and how sales professionals can tailor content and messages by evaluating customer environments, both organizational and virtual.
The business benefits of embracing the educated consumer are exciting, because they offer numerous opportunities for growth. Yet, sales pros can get lost in this new sales world without an understanding of where your prospects find information and how they want to be engaged. You risk obsolescence if you play by their rules and not yours.
For more tips on how to harness virtual and social tools to survive in today’s sales world, read PGi’s latest ebook – Evolution of Sales: The Survival Guide.
1Forrester Research via Miller, J. The Path to a Killer Marketing Strategy as quoted on
InsideSales.com (2013) Retrieved at http://www.insidesales.com/insider/salesmetrics/
2Elkington, D. Inside Sales Market Update as quoted on InsideSales.com (2013) Retrieved at