The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday Guest Blog: Selling is Dead – Long Live Buying

By David Wright – BSA Marketing

There has been a quiet revolution going on.

It isn’t that long ago that sales teams used to sell things. If you wanted to buy something that you didn’t know a whole lot about, you had to ask a salesperson who would then take that opportunity to try to get you to buy what they had to sell. You pretty much had to rely on the information they gave you as they were the only real source of that information. The system tended to work but much of the power (the information) was in the hands of the seller.

Not any more!

The internet has changed all that. Now if you want to buy something, a quick search on Google® can give you vast swathes of useful information:

  • Specifications
  • Professional Reviews
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Discussion Forums
  • Video demonstrations
  • Where to buy
  • Who has stock
  • Best Prices

The internet has moved the power from the seller to the buyer. People don’t sell things anymore, people buy things. Nowadays, the job of a seller is to inform and advise, to show how they can meet the customer’s need and solve their problem at an acceptable cost. If they do this then the customer is likely to buy from them. If not…

You will know the scene; you go into one of the big electrical retailers looking to buy a new TV/computer or whatever. You want some advice and approach a member of the sales team who proceeds to tell you about a particular model by reading the card sitting next to the item in question!  Is this approach really going to secure the business, particularly when the customer can scan the product barcode with their smartphone and immediately see where else the product is on sale and who has the best price? I think not!

There is hope – maybe

I recently visited the tool department of my local DIY shed when my eye alighted on a ‘must-have’ multi-tool! There were a few different models so I asked the salesman who approached for some advice. He was great. He did not read the card! He told me he owned and used two different versions. He told me how it worked. He showed me on the floor in-store where he had used the tool to cut some bolts. He even pointed out some weaknesses of the tool. He wasn’t just trying to get the sale, he was using his knowledge and experience to inform me – this is more like it. I felt he was interested in my needs and was giving valuable information. But I was good; I didn’t need the tool straight away so I said I’d go and think about it. As a potential buyer, I knew I could go away and build on the information I had before making a final decision and putting my hand in my pocket.

So did the store get the sale? I’m afraid not. Selling is dead – Long live buying. The same product was available for Amazon at 40% less – but that’s another story!

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