Are you keeping up with today’s consumer
In 1977 the Apple II became the first largely successful computer built for the everyday home. By 1990 the first portable computer was available and by the mid 2000’s we had the power of a computer in the palm of hand in the form of an iPhone. To say that how consumers buy today is the same as it was when you first got into business 30 years ago is like saying that Apple II is exactly the same as that iPhone. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the two are very different technologies. Yet, the number of businesses I speak to that rely on doing “business the same way we have been for the last 30 years” are the rule as opposed to the exception.
Peak under the hood
Peeling back the layers of “we’ve been doing business the same way we have been for the last 30 years” has lead me to two observations. One of which is obvious and it’s a recipe for success largely built on a strong foundation of the people that work with them. Many of their sales reps have been with the company for five, ten or fifteen years acquiring incredible amounts of industry knowledge. The second is decidedly less obvious in that they don’t give themselves any credit for being masters of change. Take a step back and think about it. Whether you’ve been in business for 30 years or you just wrapped up your first successful year, is your sales process exactly the same as when you first started? Is your marketing plan the same in year one as it is in year five or year ten? Are your customers buying the same way today as they did in 2005? To put it in perspective, Facebook was just getting off the ground ten years ago as a simple social network and has since transformed into a major resource in the advertising space.
Today’s buyer has already completed 60% of their research online before reaching out to your sales reps.
A quick google search on today’s consumer
Today’s buyer has already completed 60% of their research online before reaching out to your sales reps. The companies that have started to position themselves to capture this audience have focused on two areas of their business. The first is external in putting a larger focus on their customer experience. They take a multi-faceted approach by making as much information available to the consumer as possible. This is done through various forms of marketing through their website, social media and good ole fashion print advertising (that’s right, print media is not dead!). The second way companies are adapting to today’s consumer is providing their own sales reps with tools to help them track the bread crumbs that are left in each conversation. Gone are the days where you could get away with writing down a name and number on a piece of paper only to stick it on the bulletin board in the pack only to forget it. Today’s consumer will move on to the company that calls them back.
What can you be doing to capture this audience today and in the future
At the end of the day you must make the choices that best fit your business. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the changes that need to take place to stay in front of today’s consumer. With consumers having instant access to information you have the incredible opportunity to position your company as a leader for that information by making it available to the consumer. Couple that with giving your sales reps the tools to go to the consumer with that information and you have a recipe for success in selling to the 21st century consumer!