The nature of buying has changed. These days, buyers are incredibly informed. Through the internet they can track down all the information they could ever need on brands, products, and prices.
They can set alerts for deals, and track the products and services they want long before they make it to market.
They can source reviews, easily compare models, prices and availability, and vent their feelings to the world. There are online communities aplenty, built around every purchasing decision imaginable.
And all of this is available 24/7, wherever they happen to be.
In short, the buyer now has total control of their purchasing information. They can and will find their own way through the sales funnel.
Buyers no longer need to be directly sold to. In fact, it may be unwise to even try. Many prefer to keep salespeople as far away as possible.
Numbers from the Sales Benchmark Index support this – on average, buyers are now 57% through the buying cycle before they reach out for sales support. Buyers don’t want your help, except for the most complicated stuff.
Sellers need to know how to react to this shift. They need to switch mode and method, orienting their tactics around the data produced by all this consumer activity.
Cold calls, unsolicited emails and in-person selling aren’t dead, but they should no longer be the primary channel.
Instead, sellers need to reach out to the right customers, and do it passively, where they live – on social media platforms. Through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Sellers need to keep an eye on these social media platforms to see if they can pick up trends or signs of dissatisfaction – engagement with customers can happen anywhere, anytime. This can be done through a social listening tool like Microsoft Social Engagement, which gives you powerful tools to gain insight into the conversation surrounding your business and products.
Even more, try and build networks and relationships in this new world. Put out relevant and engaging content through these channels, build up an audience and rapport.
When you have a presence and an engaged community, people will begin broadcasting their intention to make a purchase, or reach out to have their problem solved. That is the time to connect!
You can find more information and tools for the new age of customer engagement at Microsoft Australia.