Stop treating buyers like they’re dumb

Consider two SaaS products. Both solve the same problem. Both serve a similar audience.

One returns more than 5,000 pages of search results. The other about 1,000.

One has a resource center with workshops, webinars, case studies, and more. The other has a blog and a few case studies.

One displays pricing, makes it easy to sign up and to get started. The other forces you to contact them to find out their pricing.

One has a sales and marketing process designed to support modern buyers. The other falls short.

I encounter examples like this often. If I’m in the market, I end up buying the product with a sales process that was easy and frankly empowered me. Simply put, didn’t treat me like I was dumb.

If you’re an online business (and every business is in some capacity) your buyers aren’t dumb. Stop treating them like they are.

The root of your broken sales process

At the turn of the 20th century, sales people drove the sales process.

A company’s sales rep was responsible for the entire buyer’s journey. That journey, nicknamed AIDA: Attention — Interest — Action — Desire, worked for a long time. It worked, because consumers relied on sales reps. Sales reps introduced products, provided information, built desire etc.

Over the next 100ish years, media evolved. Fast. Particularly in the past 15 years with the role of digital media.

Source: Forbes

As media leapfrogged through the century, it began educating consumers about problems and solutions available to them.

Some we could have done without ….

And some we didn’t know we needed, or how much they’d change everything …

Fast forward to today and the ubiquity of information has disrupted much of the sales process.

A modern sales process empowers your buyer — not you

Today, successful brands have adopted a new buyers journey. One around Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. This journey maps to the modern marketing process well creating allies of sales and marketing. If you’ve read any of Hubspot’s content, you’ve likely seen this:

There’s two big differentiators between the journey today and the one in the early days of the 20th century.

First, the modern journey is problem centric — not product centric.

Step 1. A buyer feels a problem.

Step 2. Because they live in a world with a information at the ready, they start searching for solutions. They look to educate themselves.

Step 3. They get exposed to solutions, brands/products/services etcetera and develop a strategy to solve their problem

If you sell to consumers these journeys start in 1 of 3 places Amazon, google or retail websites.

If you sell B2B, the journey overwhelmingly starts on Google with nearly 75% of business buyers

As a result, this leads to the second big differentiator — the buyer is the center of the journey. Not your sales person and not your product or brand.

Give people what they want

By the time your consumer has arrived at website, they have already either:

1.) realized or expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity in their life (business).

OR

2.)clearly defined and given a name to that problem or opportunity.

OR

3.) defined their solution, strategy, method or approach and are looking for deciding factors.

The brands that win, empower customers throughout these three stages.

Back to our SaaS example.

Content to attract and inform:

The product with 5,000 pages and a robust resource center is winning.

They’ve created content and resources for buyers in the first couple stages. Those who have either realized their symptoms or already defined their problem. As a result, the company becomes a resource. The prospect is becoming informed through your resources and mix of other content like reviews, social recommendations, media validation and other touch points.

Make it easy to do business:

The product that let’s a buyer price and transact easy is also winning.

Before you jump down my throat, I’m not saying published pricing is necessary. What I am saying is that prospects who have defined a solution or strategy, want information that helps them decide.

If your competitors are providing pricing and an easy way to transact, you’re not gonna win this one. You prospective customer isn’t dumb. They know what problem they have. They’ve educated themselves about the solutions. And now they need a couple final pieces of information. If your competitor gives it to them, you lose. If you draw out the final stages and don’t realize the I’m already 50- 75% of the way through the buying stage and make me have a series of “discovery calls,” you lose.

B2B — B2C, Whichever, Just Always Be Helpful

If you don’t do it, they’ll get what they need somewhere else.

Whether you’re selling enterprise software or wedding planning services, the lessons are the same. Buyers are not stupid.

  1. Don’t make it difficult for them to transact with you.
  2. Invest in building resources to empower your buyers during their journey.

Final Word

Have your sales and marketing processes been updated for the modern buyer? How do you make is easy for your prospects to do busy with you? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on September 27, 2017.

If you enjoyed this story, please recommend 👏 and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading Mark Growth!