About this video
Why the traditional sales model no longer works.
Video length: 3:59
Dave Harries: Something that jumped out of the book for me was a little story you told, which I suppose is obvious, but I hadn’t really thought about it before. It’s this idea that the digital era means you can make a decision to buy very quickly after a recommendation. I think you used the example of someone being in a pub and they recommend a book to you. You trust what they say, so you immediately go into your smart phone on Amazon, and the next day you’ve got the book, which is obviously a very different thing to the old days where we’d have had to go to the bookshop and, perhaps, order it and all that sort of thing. What are the implications of that sort of thing for these old models of selling?
Grant Leboff: Yes, yes, very interesting. What it does, this instant access to information, means that the purchase journey can start anytime. In actual fact, purchase journeys are taking longer than ever before. The reason being is that, because we have more information, when it’s a considered purchase, maybe not just a book, but something a little bit more considered. We’ve got more information to digest, and so we’ll be a little bit more comprehensive about our research and those kinds of things. We can do it from the comfort of our own home or when we’re on the bus or whenever it’s convenient for us. Also, it’s easier to involve other decision makers and, of course, share that information. Years ago it might have been a couple of meetings you’d go to, and you’d just make the decision with you or your immediate reports that you were working with. Now you can share that information with a wider group of people. Get more buy and more consensus. Of course, that makes it harder often for salespeople, because they’re dealing with a decision making unit and a bigger one. It also means that it takes longer, because you’re getting more consensus.
Purchase journeys have actually gotten longer. You could say that can help your salesperson get a bit more time to influence the purchase journey, possibly. Nevertheless, the purchase journey can start immediately, because you an recommend something to me, a new piece of software, and I can literally be looking it up at that moment, which means that you’ve got to start thinking about, from the sales and marketing point of view, is where do those journeys begin and are you in those places and what are you giving those people in terms of content that they’re seeing to start to influence that purchase journey.
Dave Harries: To use that analogy a litte bit more, the purchase journey, if I understand it, could be longer. The route is now determined by the buyer, whereas in the old days, the route of that journey would be very much influenced by the seller. Is that a fair way of summing it up?
Grant Leboff: Yes. This has huge implications to go back to your previous question about traditional selling, because people don’t often think of this. What is the purpose of sales? How does a sales person add value to the process? It’s very, very simple. They influence the criteria of purchase. That’s what they do. They influence the criteria of purchase. That’s how they have some sort of influence over the buying decision and possible make the sale. So many salespeople today are failing to influence the criteria of purchase, which means they really become account managers. They almost become the equivalent of a waiter taking orders in a restaurant, not influencing the criteria of purchase at all. People themselves are making up their own minds with all the access to information. By the time the salesperson gets involved in the buying journey, as it were, they’re already got their criteria of purchase. They’ve decided what they want, and they’re really just saying to a salesperson, “Can you meet these criteria?” That’s why you end up with the popularity of procurement departments today.
Actually, if we’ve decided our criteria, I can give that to a professional buyer who can now screw the salespeople and companies into the ground, try and make everybody appear the same on their checklist and screw everyone on price. That’s kind of how it works. Sales people have got to think much better how they influence their criteria of purchase.
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