I recently came across some interesting research from Gartner on the customer engagement shift. They discovered that when a customer is buying a brand new solution, they prefer online or offline research 71% of the time as their initial foray into the buying process. Moreover, when customers are replacing an existing solution, 55% of them prefer engagement directly with you as their initial foray into the buying process.
What does that mean to us as sellers?
Customer Engagement Shift for Brand New Solutions
Many of you are in the marketplace of selling brand new solutions. In 71% of the cases (that’s almost a full three-quarters), your customers are researching first. This means we need to ramp up our marketing skills. We need to be ubiquitous and create Critical Mass Influence in the marketplace (I discuss this more in chapter three of my new book, Right on the Money). We need to make sure that every single day we are posting ideas, best practices, case studies, or news stories that support our solutions in the marketplace. We need to be asking questions and engaging with people online so that, as they’re doing their research, they see us first and foremost.
More importantly, this will help you create an environment where they say, for example, “I have to talk to you because I see you everywhere! You must be the best at this. You must have other clients like us who have these problems that you can solve.” Thus, they come to you first.
For those of you in the replacement business (meaning you’re selling to a well-established marketplace), 55% of your customers prefer direct engagement. So, how do we engage in this scenario? I recommend through direct email or outreach on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whichever social media platform you’re selling on. It could also be accomplished by phone call or on a walk-in basis if they’re allowing people to come in the door.
Keep in mind that 45% of those customers are still using research as their primary or preferred mode of learning about replacement solutions. I wouldn’t suggest that you ignore those and, in those cases, I do think that you still need to follow the practices of the new products and commit to a strategy of Critical Mass Influence because as those numbers get closer to fifty-fifty, we may see that shift. I don’t want you to be caught unaware!
Use those stats to your advantage and meet the customer where they’re at. You will sell more and be right on the money in no time.