You Have No Power Here Salespeople! The power of information and how it shifted with the arrival of Internet
By Konstantin Kostychuk Founder & CEO @ MARKÉTIKA
on March 20, 2017
Picture this: Your car is a piece of crap. It's all rusty and the more you repair it the more it falls apart. After the last snowstorm, you made a decision; you're buying a new car!
What do you do?
You Google it! You open your computer or your mobile device and you start looking at the different makes, models and prices of cars. After reading reviews, watching videos and comparing 3 to 10 different options, you select your vehicle of choice and you drive down to the nearest dealership to buy it.
Now image that your car is a piece of crap but this time it's 1987.
If you wanted to buy a new car 30 years ago, what did you do? Those of you who are old enough will remember that your options were not many but here basically what happened:
1. Pick a make and find the nearest dealership. 2. Drive there (or take the bus). 3. Compare pricing options, deals, promotions and features. 4. Haggle with a salesperson. 5. Get haggled. 6. Then drive down to another dealership and repeat steps 1 through 5. 7. Do that three, four or even 10 times.
We have this amazing capacity as human beings to quickly get used to the good things in life and expect them to be the new standards. But this is what it used to be like before 12 year olds walked around with a satellite connection in their pocket.
If you're reading this and you're a business owner, you're probably thinking that "A client coming to your store without Googling a single thing, that's great! Half the battle is already won! Business owners had it SO EASY back then!"
And you're right!
Without easy access to information, consumers had no choice but to come see you at the store. Once there, they had to speak with a salesperson that was only giving them enough information to make the sale.
If right now you're thinking that this is GREAT for business, keep reading.
The only reason you went to 10 different car dealerships 30 years ago is because you had no other choice. If you wanted information about a car, you went to a car salesman. If you wanted information about a fridge, a TV or any other product or service, you had to get out of your home, drive to the store and get that information from a salesperson.
The power of information was consolidated within the salespeople. They knew how to use it and how to squeeze as much as they could out of every customer. They'd get away with it time after time after time. It's no wonder that to this day, when most people think of a salesman they are thinking of someone who's pushy, persistent and aggressive. Source HubSpot
Fast-forward a decade: Enters Internet.
From its first appearance in the early nineties, Internet has changed the way we consume information, the way we shop and communicate. It pretty much changed the way we live.
Advances in technology, and the incredibly rapid spread of connectivity across the developed world (and now beyond) has changed the relationship between consumers and salespeople forever (and for the better).
Today's consumer wants information right NOW and he will only move his thumb(s) to get it.
The Power Shift
After decades of being abused and mistreated, the consumer is finally coming out on top. He is now king! He decides when he wants to look for your product, how he does it and where he does it.
But for the most part, they all start in the same place.
Here are the figures: - 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying - 60% start their research on a search engine like Google - 61% of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase (Source)
By the time a consumer walks into a car dealership in 2018, his mind is already made up! And this goes for EVERYTHING; it's the same story for the majority of products and services that you see today! If 30 years ago, the sales cycle started when a customer would walk in the store, today it starts when the consumer simply feels a need or a want. And with a smart phone in his pocket, he can start looking to fulfill that need within seconds. There's no need to speak with a salesman any more.
All of the latest information is easily accessible online.
The dynamic of our work as businesspeople and as salespeople has changed the day that the power of information shifted from us towards the customer. Those who adapted survived and thrived, the rest died out, much like the dinosaurs did.
So what can you do? How can you market your business when the consumer calls all the shots?
Business starts with presence.
Being on the first page of Google puts you on the list of companies that will be compared, but it doesn't guarantee contact just yet. Today's consumer will compare a few companies by looking at their overall online presence and then decide which companies he will contact for pricing. (We assume here that your product is the bomb and that your branding is on point.)
When it comes to online presence, here's what you need to think about:
- Do you have a website? Is it mobile responsive? (more than 60% of all purchases start from a mobile device) - Is your contact information visible? - Do you have social media accounts? Are they active? - Do you produce and share interesting and useful content? - Does your business have reviews? How are they? - Have you established yourself as an expert in your field? Can you be trusted? - Do you have a Google My Business account? - Did you come up in Google at all? In Google Ads?
The above list is meant to get you to ask the right questions and start thinking about your business differently. In the next article, we'll look at a more systematic approach to building your marketing funnel and understanding the tools at your disposal at each stage of that model.
Online presence is no longer an asset, it's an absolute prerequisite for survival.
so that's it? online presence is the answer? not quite.
Online presence is one of the answers. It's one of the very first answers. If you're thinking about the future of your business and about where your customers are looking for your products, online presence is a good start.
Active evaluation is when a potential client has found your business, liked what you're offering and is at the stage of comparing you to the competition. "Two-thirds of the touch points during the active-evaluation phase involve […] activities such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family." Source: McKinsey
What does that mean? It means that simply being online is not enough. Just like they do in a store holding two products in front of them, they will also compare your business with others when searching online.
I'll say it again, doing business is harder today than it was 30 years ago. There's no denying the fact that there are many more companies opening every week, that competition is getting more fierce, sometimes international, and the consumer has access to detailed information at the swipe of a finger.
Make no mistake; your competitors are already online. They have been for a while. Online presence is a big step in the right direction but if you haven't made that step by 2017, you're already behind!
If your company is not visible online, it is not visible at all.
Be smart about your business. Plan, test, adjust and try again. Leave nothing to chance, be calculated and systematic, use the right tools and target the right audience to grow your business.
I hope you found this article interesting and helpful. If you have any questions, comments or rants, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org