In the distant past (say 25 years ago) think about how you purchased a product. Somewhere you would get motivated to purchase an item from TV, radio, newspaper, magazine or word of mouth.
Then you likely visited a physical retail store, looked at the various offerings of the product available and if there was a brochure or literature to review you would look at the feature sets.
Then the Sales representative would come over, (hopefully) ask you some questions to find out what you were looking for, get your budget, run through any buying objections and they would work to help you figure out if the product was right for you. If they had done this well, then you would likely buy the product from that store.
Skip ahead to today and especially during Covid-19. How often do you talk or interact with a salesperson anymore either in person or on a phone?
Compared to the past I would posit that buyers get more of their buying signals online today than anyplace else. Also, the research on a product often takes place via the internet, likely some of it on a cellphone or tablet. Maybe they talk to a chatbot along the way but for the most part if you are selling a product today you really do have to have an online presence in a DTC (direct to consumer) sales model.
In today’s digital marketing era, customers have taken control of the customer buyer journey and have more power than ever before.
This is a significant change in the Buyer Journey and needs to be recognized and embraced.
During the awareness, interest and consideration process of sales, customers now actively seek out reviews and listen to recommendations on places like Yelp and the advocacy from influencers rather than relying on just advertising for features and benefits. Sales teams must be collaborative with their target market and try to assist them in this buyer journey, listening and responding to their specific requirements acting as trusted advisors.
Traditional retail sales roles & responsibilities have changed to more of a marketing / informational role, especially early in the process. They must act like a psychologist and buyer journey ‘coach’ and these teams must understand when, where, and how their customers want to interact in today’s environment.
To optimize touchpoints, sales functions need to embrace a fundamental shift where they provide different interactions, engaging in direct conversations that deliver on customer value propositions and advance the customer lifetime value calculation that is built into performance metrics.
With increasing technology sophistication, marketing can provide an immersive, multi-social channel buyer journey. With AI, ML and predictive data analytics marketers can accurately pinpoint where their interactions with their sales team and online mesh and how to properly present what information, when in the buyer journey and then successfully completing the handoff from intent to sale.
The bottom line is that consumers will likely continue to enjoy more power in the lead up to a sale than in years past. Marketing and sales have been and will continue to adjust as the future of the consumer buyer journey continues to evolve.
David is a sales and marketing futurist as well as Director at Sentia, a next generation sales enablement technology company. Dave’s passion for helping people with their sales, marketing, business strategy, startup growth and strategic planning has taken him across the globe and spans numerous industries. You can follow him on Twitter LinkedIn or on Sentia Says.