The “Googlization” of information has leveled the playing field between sales reps and prospects.
With easy access to information, buyers are initiating purchasing cycles by performing extensive product research on the Internet long before inviting a sales rep into the process. Increasingly, buyers today know as much, if not more, about the product and the competition’s products as the seller knows. Product knowledge, once the manufacturer sales reps’ main advantage in the selling cycle, is now readily available to buyers. This shift in the balance of knowledge leads to more complex questions about the product universe. In response, sales reps need to know more about how the products they are selling can be used in specific circumstances, understand the sales advantages over competitors’ products, and be able to describe the resulting benefits.
Sales reps can no longer retreat to product expertise to trump challenges or issues raised by buyers. Canned presentations and brochures of the past are simply not enough. There is a convergence of demands and expectations: how the salesperson responds to these challenges determines whether or not he closes the sale. So, the bar continues to be raised as to the value a salesperson must bring to the table during the buy-and-sell process. Given this new reality, what tools are available to arm salespeople to better answer customers needs and present them with compelling reasons to buy? 3-D applications fulfill the vision of design and engineering firms. They provide a rich data set for salespeople to obtain marketing materials and digital prototypes that help shrink sales cycles and improve their customer face time.
Similarly, access to real-time information may be the difference between winning and losing the deal.
It is no longer acceptable for salespeople to respond to customers’ inquiries with “I’ll get back to you.” In the time it takes for the salesperson to respond to a customer’s question, a competitor with stronger product knowledge, customized proposals, or better pricing will have won the business. Whether it’s online, over the phone, or faceto-face, organizations need to respond to customers’ inquiries in real time. Information about in-stock parts, price breaks, alternatives to out-of-stocks, etc. should be readily available to the salesperson when interacting with customers. Without easy access to information, salespeople lose credibility—and a potential relationship with the customer.