Access to information is losing currency as the selling gambit

As long as access to information is lopsided to the seller’s advantage, buyer-beware will still trump. With information access being equal, seller-beware comes to the fore.

The terrorist attack in Garissa was followed globally as it was happening, yet newspaper sales are on the decline. How? Readers prefer other ways of consuming news, via the ubiquitous phone, internet and digital TV with its plethora of channels. Many media houses have an app or website. Some statistics put newspaper digital-media reach at a staggering 82% of online adult population in more mature economies. Singular access to information was the preserve of the traditional seller and so, selling was dependent on selectively exposing buyers to information. That was then, digital is now.

Access to information is no longer the preserve of the seller and can no longer be his trump card. For instance, Googling will give you a plethora of information about the causes of pain in your lower back; joining a Facebook group of Lower-Back Pain sufferers or tweeting #LowerBackPain will give you an avalanche of first-hand insights on the condition; regularly tuning into a medical TV channel and downloading an app to measure and manage the pressure you are applying to your lower back will shed further light still. All this while, you have not gone to see the seller (doctor). When you ultimately do so, you are a walking encyclopedia on lower back pain. You are still a lay person, yes; only informed. The wise doctor will not handle a digital you as he would have your analogue version. He is a second opinion; the internet was the first!

The full impact of equal access to information has not come full circle into this market yet. However, with an explosion of youth and Kenya touted as an IT hub, the time is nigh. The progressive seller is wise enough to start evolving into this changing landscape. How? Finding other ways to connect with the buyer. Instead of the doctor feeling offended at being challenged by the patient based on his Google-found knowledge, the wise one will explore. “How do you feel about what you read?” The patient (buyer) may have the information, and possibly successfully self medicated in the past, but he is not a medical doctor. What he needs is acknowledgment of his interest and more importantly guidance (educating) on the pros and cons of what he is proposing for him to see. Insisting that “I’m the doctor. Choose whether you will listen to me or Google” may win you the argument but will lose you future sales. A (buyer) car enthusiast at a bazaar will not be won over by the seller excitedly sharing the features of the Subaru; the buyer most probably knows them much more than you do. But because you have superior product knowledge does not translate to superior selling abilities: you flip out your phone and invite the buyer to access information and you arrive at a (guided) solution together.

In traditional selling, the examples shared were considered time-wasting. Not anymore. Acknowledgment, education and discussion towards building trust and connection are the new trump-card.

Sales Pitch mourns with the bereaved families of the terrorist attack in Garissa and condemns the cowardly act of the terrorists. Whatever product they are selling, the price they are levying does not justify it.

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