It sounds like a cliché today, but there was a time when being is sales was like being on the hunt and customers were the big prize.
That’s simply no longer true. If anything (and forgive this one last use that shopworn term), the hunter has become the hunted.
Today, it is the buyers who seek out the sales people but only when they’ve made the decision to buy—and often when they’ve also made a decision about who they’re ready to buy from.
This shift dramatically changes how you ought to be managing your sales cycle. And the most surprising thing of all is that many businesses out there today continue to overlook this, acting as though nothing as changed.
Moving towards a buying vision
Buyers today are better informed and better prepared about the products and services they’re interested in. This should come as no surprise.
One recent study found that over 80% of customers research products online before buying in-store. I know Chris and I do this with almost everything we buy personally and for the business! With the swipe of a finger on their phone or tablet, we have access to world of instant facts, comparative reviews, buying tips and more. If that array of resources online doesn’t include valuable information, resources, reviews, proof, pictures, or product data from your company, buyers are passing you by.
More than ever before, buyers are demanding to be an active part of the purchasing process—not just an end point in a transaction. That can only happen if you lay out a trail of bread crumbs online for them to find you (and not the competition). That’s why it’s so important to invest in researched, well-written articles, product reviews, business cases, case studies, testimonials, how-to videos, podcasts, newsletters and more—all crafted to support a buying vison.
I covered those specific steps in Chapter 12 of my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom. So let me share with you my latest thinking on this, based on what I’m seeing in the marketplace today.
Your buying vision needs to be closely linked to the specific customers you are looking to do business with: creating a vision in their minds about why they should buy from you. It must include a story that’s specific to each market and value proposition you’re seeking to attract. It must make a clear case for the challenges your customer has, as well as the solutions you offer. And you must back it with clear, compelling results that you and your company have achieved.
Be strategic. Make sure you invest in highly targeted placements online and offline as well as on your website. These could be on association websites, publications your buyers read, and at conferences your buyers attend. Ensure also that you have presentation, telephone and email scripts that speak directly to the buying vision that fits the buyer’s specific needs. Be better prepared for meetings with prospects by having scripted questions designed to probe for pain points that they may have in their current work, and also in areas that they have already admitted interest in.
Creating a buying vision goes a long way to ensuring that your prospects are better educated and better informed and enjoy a better experience when they come to you. It also plays a pivotal role in flattening the footpaths of pre-qualification and qualification into one big, well-paved street.
It pays to create a vision. Remember: collaboration is key to this new process in a new rules economy.