In football, teams frequently use “motions” and “shifts” before snapping the ball to gain an offensive advantage over the other team. If you’re on defense and this happens, you have to make a counter move to stop them. Otherwise, they’ll blow past you.
The sales process works the same way. It’s completely changed because of Internet-caused shifts in buyer behavior. Since buyers have the power to research every purchase online with the click of a mouse, companies of all sizes and marketing budgets must rethink their marketing and sales approaches. To adapt your marketing and sales processes for sustainable success and revenue growth, you must understand these three key shifts in buyer behavior.
Shift #1: Buyers Want Education, Not a Sales Pitch
Buyers today use the Internet to gather information about your products and services before ever contacting you directly. They’re looking for much deeper, more detailed levels of information and they expect your business to provide it. This requires a much different approach and a different way of thinking. Forget about what you want them to buy for a second. Instead, turn your focus to what your buyers are looking for and how you can provide it.
What pain points is your typical buyer experiencing?
What type of content will resonate with them? (Would they rather read testimonials, client references or case studies?)
Are they a visitor or a lead? Do they typically ask for a cost calculator on your website?
Highly relevant content will answer these types of questions and solve your buyers’ problems, making your business much more trustworthy and valuable in their eyes.
Shift #2: Buyers Are Listening to What Others Say
As buyers conduct their research online, perusing your website and those of your competitors, they’ll also be looking for validation from third-party sources. For example, many people will only dine at restaurants with a great Yelp review, or stay at a hotel with a favorable TripAdvisor review. If you want your company to make the short list of buyer options, you need to participate in and facilitate these reviews. To do this, you must identify the influential industry websites, blogs and forums that your buyers are visiting and implement a plan to create a presence on them. You can share relevant content on these sites or even join in on the discussions. In addition, asking your current clients for reviews and testimonials is easy and most would be happy to help.
Shift #3 Buyers Are More Informed, Earlier in the Process
There are more online sources today than ever before, meaning there is a lot more information available to buyers. Whether large or small, companies must change their marketing and sales process in response. Educated buyers no longer require sales presentations from traditional salespeople in order to learn about products and solutions. In fact, many of your website’s visitors may not even be looking for your company or solutions at all. They could just be doing their due diligence on websites and blogs, trying to inform themselves and make a better purchasing decision. When your buyers do reach out to you and contact you directly, they are likely well prepared and may even have specific expectations. The last thing you or your salespeople want to do is to try to “sell” an educated buyer.
It may be hard work (and a little uncomfortable at first), but changing your marketing and sales approach will help you counter these shifts in buyer behavior and increase your ability to grow leads, increase sales and improve your bottom line.