How Buyers Use The Internet to Select a Vendor
Buyers search vendors online before talking to a sales rep
Rely on organic search to guide them to potential vendors
Ignore pay-per-click advertising when searching for a vendor
Already have a vendor in mind before they start searching
Balance of Power has Changed
The Internet has drastically changed the dynamics between buyers and sellers and this shift has presented both tough challenges and great opportunities for sales and marketing departments. The vendor selection landscape has changed from sellers “pushing” their wares to one where buyers now “pull” what appeals to them in their own way and at their own pace. Companies stuck in the old growth paradigm will eventually find it more difficult to compete and survive. Some may be feeling the pain already.
Times Have Changed
In the past, buyers had little choice but to talk with vendors if they wanted to learn more about products or services that could potential help them. This meant the interaction with sellers happened much earlier in the process and in a more direct and personal way. Sales people were trained as product experts with most of the answers and like it or not, you had to talk with one if you were going to make informed decisions.
According to Forrester’s’ Lori Wizdo “today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor.” Today’s buyer has a world of information at their fingertips. With such easy access to product detail, pricing, comparisons and reviews, buyers can get to know as much about a particular product or company as the average salesperson does. This makes it difficult for sales people to establish rapport and credibility since they are coming in so late in the sales cycle. If you’re invited to the table without knowing your prospect or them knowing you, the competition may have already “shaped” the opportunity and your proposal could end up simply being a comparison column on a spreadsheet.
Marketing Fights Back
In recent years, marketers have become much more focused on market segmentation as a way to better understand and cater to the unique needs of their target audiences. The Internet has provided incredibly powerful tools to customize, personalize, automate and track a steady stream of communications to a precisely-defined audience. The net result is that marketers now have the ability to stop the shot-gun advertising that most people despise and have learned to “tune-out”, now they can create messaging that will better resonate with the recipient. For a full copy of the executive brief click on the left.