Myth #3: Online Research To Choose Vendors/Solutions Is Sufficient – Part #1 (Lesson 9)
For a long while, salespeople ruled the roost…
When it came to organisations acquiring new goods and services, buyers depended on gaining access to the right specialist people. Initially, this was in person, and then later by telephone. Fax/email introduced new ways of communicating, but did little to alter the two key aspects that characterised the process of buying and selling.
Salespeople had nearly all the information that buyers needed to know in order to make a (hopefully) informed decision.
- Features and benefits.
- Ability to demonstrate the product or service.
- Ability to demonstrate the credibility of the product or service (case studies, customer references, etc.).
- Any other information that the prospective buyer required.
Buyers had to invite salespeople to effectively sell to them in order to discover this information.
Of course, salespeople are also in the habit of trying to sell to prospective buyers, whether or not they are currently interested – something that has never changed.
This uneasy relationship persisted for decades, with adversaries warily circling each other, and salespeople making frequent attempts to close their potential buyers.
As with many things in modern life, the Internet has turned this traditional model on its head. The tables have definitely been turned on the salesperson, with the modern buyer – at least on the surface – grabbing more control of the buying process than they have had historically.
Now that buyers are in control, all is well with the world
Salespeople once closely guarded information essential to the buying process. Now this information is often spread freely across digital channels. Sometimes it is hidden behind a paywall, but good research can be a sound investment that also saves a lot of time and effort.
This is marvellous for the buyer.
Opening up these huge sources of information has definitely empowered those involved in buying products and solutions to do a lot of groundwork from the safety and comfort of their desk (or mobile phone, or wherever and whenever they want). There is hardly a salesperson in sight!
In fact, gatekeepers often work overtime on the buyer’s behalf to keep salespeople at arm’s length – or to totally exclude them.
Then, once the buyer has completed between 45%-70% of the purchase process, they will invite a small sub-set of the potential suppliers into the process. By now, this process is very much controlled and managed by the buyer and their procurement team.