Digital has greatly impacted the dynamics of the buying process—search, research and purchase. It’s pretty seamless and efficient these days. If browsing, shopping or buying is too difficult or cumbersome, then buyers can quickly abandon and move on to the next best alternative. This seamless efficiency in the online world has also impacted the selling process in the offline world (aka direct contact with people).
Buyers’ access to so much brand/product information online gives them the ability to quickly make informed judgments without the direct intervention of the brand/product. This creates a challenge for those with weak propositions and a phenomenal opportunity for those with the most relevant and engaging content, along with a friction-free buying process.
This digital mindset has shifted to interpersonal communications as well. Buyers now have the expectation of quickly filtering out irrelevant and useless information in the offline world, too, so the sales process must be highly targeted and relevant right out of the gate. Your most effective salespeople must engage buyers immediately with thoughtful and compelling data/content or fear quickly losing their attention.
Thankfully, this dynamic has finally buried the relationship selling process—rest in peace, because it sure was exhausting.
Relationship-driven consultative salespeople expected the buyer to divulge everything he/she knew/wanted, so the seller could go away and fix up a solution. The burden was on the buyer, who rarely received any value from the initial interaction. This placating technique would rarely result in any new ideas or innovation.
The Challenger Sale
This evolution is well documented in Dixon-Adamson’s The Challenger Sale. According to the popular new sales book, the most effective salespeople (the “Challengers”) immediately offer rich and compelling insights to educate and reframe the thinking of the buyer. This healthy tension often results in innovation. This advances the ball for all involved.
Even though the initial burden is now on the salesperson or selling organization, the advent of social media has made this shift a lot easier. In fact, it’s this availability of social media that makes the “Challenger Model” possible, or at least unlocks more of its potential.
If you want to avoid the fate of 8-tracks and Betamax, your sales channels, whether digital or human, must embrace this commercial teaching methodology. If they don’t, your business risks going the way of analog media.
Long live digital!
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.