Every day you read something about how today’s buyers are 60-70 percent through their buying process before they will reach out to a salesperson. You also know that I believe that if that is the segment of the market you are pursuing, you are an order taker, not a seller, a seller’s job is to go out there and engage with those potential buyers not in the market, who do not have a self-serve mentality. Nothing wrong with capturing that revenue, we all should, but that is not selling, and more importantly in most instances, not enough to get you to quota.
While there is no denying that buyers are out there scouring the web, including your company site, social site, not just for peer input, but to get a view of you as a seller; there is also no denying that much of that information is contradictory, confusing, bland beige, and often unusable. For every piece you read about buyers using the web to bypass sellers, there is an equal number that speak to how executives are often left confused, overwhelmed, and less able to move forward than when they started. They end up seeking clarity and someone who can cut down the noise, someone who is not flinging information, but someone with knowledge, knowledge they can leverage to achieve their objective.
The reality is that they do not go to the web to get informed about a line of products, rather they set out to address a business objective, be that rooted in something negative, or positive; things like the ability to increase market share, leapfrog the competitor with product innovation, etc. To do that they seek knowledge, and while the web may have a lot of information, some better than the rest, knowledge is where you can make the difference. The same knowledge that will help you sell to not only those in the market, but to identify, approach and engage the much larger pool of buyers that is not in the market, nor would they be if you did not knock on their door. The area where knowledge trumps other elements, including relationship. While we all want that relationship, building it on helping the buyer leverage your knowledge will help facilitate it. Relationships, real ones, not just following each other on LinkedIn or Twitter, take time, you can use knowledge now to start, facilitate and accelerate.
Sure, information will help you be found, but knowledge will differentiate you when found. Especially in an environment where not only is there an 80% overlap in features and functions of leading competing products, but in the stream of words and stock photos on their website, Facebook pages, etc. This extends to the information available on the web. For every point, there is a counter point; there is less and less that a buyer can discern on social media, one web site looks like the next.
Using knowledge as the equalizer and differentiator, takes a bit more work than waiting for that buyer who calls you at the end of their process or journey. But even with those buyers, knowledge allows you to take a leadership role, with knowledge you can challenge common misconceptions, and poor decision that result. There is a pundit out there who always asks “do you want to be right or do you want to be rich?” The implication is that you have to make a choice, usually at the expense of the buyer. But I am here to tell you that you can be both, you can be right, and you can be rich, by applying your knowledge to help the buyer also make the right choice for them, making you both rich.