Since time immemorial, sales have been intimate, personal interactions. Sellers knew buyers. Buyers knew sellers. Transactions were conducted face to face. Trust formed the basis of long-term sales relationships.
More recently, advancing technology has caused sales relationships to evolve. Buyers are becoming more self-sufficient as the speed of information increases. The need for salespeople to educate buyers is becoming less important. They are educating themselves.
Today, buyers rely on advertising and personal research to learn about products. According to a 2018 CSO Insights report on buyer preferences, 70% of buyers prefer to engage sales reps only after they have fully defined their needs. Further, nearly half the buyers will identify their solution before engaging a sales rep.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this process further. With the risk of spreading infection, buyers do not want to meet with sales reps in their offices. Trade shows, once a fertile environment for buyers and sellers to meet and interact, are cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Buyers conduct extensive research through vendor websites, social media and referral sources.
Sellers today must leverage the tools that buyers prefer. That means selling to buyers well before they meet a sales rep. Effective sellers: