Again. In The Internet Age, “I’ve Always Sold This Way” Is Dead In The Water,

It’s not Uber that’s the ‘enemy’; it’s the Internet dummy!  Parity access to information fundamentally changes how selling is done today. Because of the Internet, your customer has the same, perhaps even more, information about what your industry offers than you do. He not only has the information from the seller’s perspective but also from the more useful user’s (buyer’s) perspective

We are in the Information Age. Insisting, “this is how I’ve always sold and it’s always worked”, just won’t cut it. Two years ago we said here that analogue and digital are terms bandied with humour in Kenya but woe betide the seller who laughs along seeing this as another passing cloud. We shared, by way of example, that there was a time when the travel agent was the custodian of all information, travel, and airlines and tour companies were at his mercy. Information on when and where to go, how to get there, cost, where to stay and activities to do, were all in his domain. At that time, hoarding knowledge was a selling gambit in itself. For instance, driven by the lure of higher commissions, the travel agent could decide to charge the traveller a higher fare, or ignore sharing information about a suitable destination because she didn’t like the owner or would earn less. The buyer didn’t know any better and seeking a second opinion from another agent would still have information flowing in one direction-seller to buyer.

In April last year we warned that the tsunami of change is coming; we repeated that because of the internet the balance of information has radically tilted to the buyers favour. Analogue was then, digital is now. If in doubt, ask traditional taxi drivers up in arms about Uber’s increasing pervasiveness into their space. They still believe the sale is about them and not the customer.  Do you wonder how it has not crossed their minds to ask why buyers (the customers) are for Uber? Do you also marvel at how the sellers continue to dig into their heels, silently insisting that this is how we’ve always sold and it’s worked? Of course they will phrase it differently by looking to politics and ‘job losses’ as the excuse. Do you also realize their tantrum is giving the very ‘enemy’ free publicity? Triggered by curiosity several people (including me) have downloaded the Uber app; putting on blinders to the ubiquity of the Internet is a painful and retrogressive experience.

Parity access to information fundamentally changes how selling is done. Because of the internet, your customer has the same, perhaps even more, information about what your industry offers than you have. He not only has the information from the seller’s perspective but also from the more useful user’s (buyer’s) perspective. I’ll believe more what my Facebook friend tells me about Zanzibar than I will the travel agent. While you give (sell) a sanitized LinkedIn response to the question, “tell us about yourself”, the interviewer (buyer) could be looking at your scandalous images on Instagram. Before the Internet, the world would have bought wholesome the sale by CNN describing Kenya as hotbed of terror; because of Twitter, #sometellcnn repulsing the news was an instance of a (Kenyan) user’s perspective of the information. When a client asks you to come make a presentation about your services or products chances are that you will find four other competitors also invited. It is not enough to just share information about the specs of your iPad if that’s what you’ve been asked to do-after all, they are bound to be more or less the same as the competition’s and what the YouTube video shows that version of iPad can do. You are much better placed seeking a connection with a customer by finding out why they seek to buy the 1000 iPads in the first place, and aligning your presentation to that need. Finding out that the client (say a bank) requires its 1,000 salespeople spread across the country to lodge loan applications in real time places you ahead of the competition as your presentation will talk about incorporating locking in GPRS locations to monitor salespeople movement and insurance to cover losses or damage to the iPads, for instance. This calls for going the extra mile, accepting the dynamism of selling in the Information Age and shunning harping on the tired old line that “this is how I’ve always sold.”

 

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