Gartner’s research has shown that buyers complete 57–80% of their buying journey digitally well before they even talk to a salesperson. That’s why—according to Subhanjan Sarkar—you have to find a way to engage with your buyers before they become a lead. How do you accomplish that? Subhanjan shares some thoughts in this episode of Sales Reinvented!
Gartner’s research shows that about 17% of a buyer’s journey is spent between multiple vendors. You may only have 2–3% of their entire journey dedicated to you. So you need to find a way into the 57–80% of the journey that the buyer experiences independently. That’s why digital selling is critical.
You must build your position as a thought leader to do that. Buyers don’t want to buy from vendors who only compete on price. Pricing cannot be a tool that everyone uses. To differentiate yourself, you have to understand your buyer. You can learn what a buyer is doing long before you meet them.
Subhanjan recommends mapping a buyer’s universe and start interacting early using technology and adding in a physical meeting when necessary. He recommends that you start gathering and learning about your industry verticals and create a thought leadership position in the industry.
If you aren’t a good fit for a client, send them toward a competitor—don’t create a dissatisfied customer. If you direct them to a better fit they’ll remember you and become a fan because you cared more about solving their problem than getting a sale. Next time they have a problem, they’ll come to you first.
What are the five attributes of a great digital seller? Listen to hear Subhanjan’s thoughts!
Subhanjan believes that one of the most critical strategies a salesperson needs to embrace is early engagement. You can’t just start with a lead. By the time you get a lead, 80% of their journey is over, right? But what if you've already engaged with this lead somewhere online because you’re a thought leader in the industry?
He also emphasizes that you need to be able to start a conversation and continue it without friction. You can share information and bounce ideas off of each other. That will prove extremely valuable.
Lastly, you must master the specific tech tools that your company uses. He points out that everyone uses spreadsheets yet everyone is awful at them, even after 40 years. Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. are complex things you have to invest time in to master. Do this with whatever tools are necessary for your trade.
A very large company in India wanted to build a vendor relationship management system (VRM). They had multiple vendors engaged. One particular vendor started the conversation by saying, “You don’t have to buy from me—have you thought of applying design thinking to the process?” The company didn’t know what design thinking was, so he offered to run a design thinking workshop for the leadership team.
He put on a one-day virtual workshop with an expert from MIT. They learned about digital thinking and applied it to the software they were creating for managing vendors. At the end of the day, the buyers got a better spec sheet for their VRM. They came back and took consultative input from this rep and ended up buying from him. The other vendors had no clue what was going on. This is living proof that a genuine interest in the customer’s benefit is key.
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