89% of buyers search on Google, Bing, etc. when planning to make a purchase, according to the Fleishman-Hillard research.

There is a social selling lesson here.

So, what can you learn from this simple statistic? Today’s selling and marketing lessons are influenced by this customer native behavior. They are learning and educating themselves with or without our help using digital and social sources.

Be A Social Selling Teacher

We’ve all had customers tell us they have narrowed down their decision to a handful of vendors or products based on their own research. Even worse, we’ve all received an ‘out-of-the-blue’ RFP, with all of the needs and requirements neatly packaged into a PDF requiring our 5-day response. Do these experiences sound familiar?

We need to get ahead of this self-education behavior and build a consulting relationship to help frame our customer’s problem.

3-part Customer-Centric Marketing And Selling Lesson Plan

1. Prove It With Teaching Credentials. Make sure to walk-the-walk when it comes to credentials and reputation management. When customers raise their hands to learn, let’s ensure we show we have the teaching (vs. selling) cred to back up our ability to make a difference. We want to build up and document our reputation by:

  • Maintaining great customer-centric LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to show who we really are and that we have a history of helping
  • Regularly distributing relevant and valued content and links. Use LinkedIn updates, tweets, blog posts, and comments to show we are keeping current with the customer-centric issues vs. just our product features and benefits
  • Participating in community and LinkedIn Groups discussions where our customers are searching to show we operate more like an insight-giving teacher instead of a feature-touting sales representative

This attention to reputation builds our credibility when we are ‘Googled’.

2. Have A Different Syllabus For Each Stage In The Buying Journey. 76% of B2B buyers prefer different content at each stage of their research, reported in recent demand generation research. Awareness, consideration, and purchase are the buying process stages. Once we’ve grabbed the attention of our customer, we need to map the conversation and content to the place in the buying stage. And, we need to deliver the messaging on the customer’s digital and social channel of choice. 98% of B2B buyers continue to learn as they move closer to their decision; using more refined search terms as their research deepens.

3. Tutor Customers To Solve Their Problems. Customers want to hear real-life experiences, and how others handled their situation. They want insight into solving their problems. A simple 3-question framework is a great place to begin the tutoring session.

  • What is the problem?
  • What does the problem mean to you?
  • How can a solution and vendor help solve your problem?

Teaching to the first two questions will help make the sale much easier to complete.

Can you teach us a thing or two about a lesson you taught a customer? If so, then please share in the comment section! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn or on Google+.

As Dave Edmonds from Rockpile put it, “No one there to tell me how. A different world – teacher, teacher, teach me now.” It is a different world for all of us, so we need to teach our customers how to solve their problems.

So, be a teacher and not a seller.