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At a recent conference, one group shared that buyers start their buyer’s journey on the seller’s website. I’ve also heard this described as the digital journey. People who suggest selling hasn’t changed in any meaningful way may not be paying attention. The biggest change is that buyers can acquire more information than ever by visiting the sales organization’s website.

Some people recommend that companies provide on their websites all the information buyers need to make purchases. This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that buyers benefit from making purchases without interacting with a salesperson. Gartner’s research shows that buyer’s remorse doubles when their purchase begins online rather than with a salesperson-led journey.

Let us suggest a rule: Information doesn’t remove ignorance.

Ignorance is a lack of awareness of what you don’t know. The smartest person you know is ignorant in areas outside of their domain. Information, like what can be published on a company website, differs from experience. One might argue that, when making an important decision, a person would benefit from engaging an expert with the experience to remedy their ignorance.

When You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

One of the challenges of limiting the buyer’s journey to a company website is that the buyer may not know what they don’t know. Without knowing what questions they should ask, they acquire only the information they are seeking. One buyer may find exactly what they are looking for without realizing what they don’t know.

When buyers speak to an experienced salesperson, the content and context of the conversation allows the salesperson to provide their prospective client with the answers to the questions that they should have asked. A better set of questions, based on experience with making a certain decision, can prevent buyer’s remorse by illuminating what would have been unseen without help.

A Short Interlude

The CEB released the statistic that buyers are 57 percent of the way through their buyer’s journey before they contact a supplier. Many in sales refuse to believe the number. Some salespeople believe that they must wait for the buyer to reach them. This belief emerged during the period when social selling was all the rage, and some suggested that all sales would eventually be inbound and that the cold call would die. Some of those people must reel at the increase in cold calls and other cold outreach.

Some of us recognized the 57 percent data point meant salespeople should try to be present at the beginning buyer’s journey by scheduling a first meeting. This response is even more important now than it was a decade ago.

Let us suggest another rule: As a trusted advisor, you must try to prevent your clients from failing before you help them.

A Few Reasons to Start the Buyer’s Journey

Unless you have been lucky enough to win the lottery, you may not want to wait to see if your dream client will reach out to you for help. The randomness of the universe seems to dole out rewards and punishments erratically. It is a mistake to allow this randomness to determine your fate when pursuing your strategic targets.

Forget that the current fashion in B2B sales is increasingly transactional. This trend results from e-commerce and Internet sales. Of course, the speed of e-commerce is attractive. What sales organization wouldn’t want to have their clients enter their online payment with no friction.

An observation: Anything that can be sold as a commodity will eventually find its way to e-commerce and the Internet. The reason you need to be an expert in the future, and our current modern world, is that many things will be bought without a salesperson.

The Triumphant Return of Relationship Selling

You may have read The Challenger Sale, which asserts that relationship sellers score poorly. You and I might recognize that The Challenger Sale’s profile of a relationship seller is more like an order-taker who is also conflict averse. The best salespeople use their relationships to create value for their clients, and having done so, no longer must compete for their orders.

No matter what, you have a relationship with your clients and your prospects, even if it isn’t the relationship you want or the one your client needs. You would do well to establish a relationship before your dream client starts on their buyer’s journey alone—or worse, with your competitor.

You are competing for your prospective client’s business. Only one salesperson will win the client. All the rest go back to their office without a consolation prize or even card that says, “Better luck next time.”

Here’s a question worth asking: Would you be better off developing the relationship before your contacts start researching on their own, or would you be better off waiting to see if they choose to engage with you?

The way to position yourself to improve your odds of being considered is to prove that you belong in the room with the buyers and decision-makers. You do this by creating value through every interaction. You might do this by prompting a contact by sharing with them three questions they need to ask. Most strategies for creating value are based on information disparity, what you know that your client does not. This approach will help to eliminate your client’s ignorance, which if left unchecked, could lead to a poor decision.

On Buyers Starting a Digital Journey

Only those paying attention to the evolving B2B landscape are aware of the consequences that can befall buyers who believe they could make a better decision without the help of an expert.

Clients pursuing an important and strategic change, one that is rare enough that they need certainty, will turn to consultative salespeople who are One-Up, meaning they have information, insights, and experience to lead their prospective clients to a good decision and better results.

See: Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative

Leaving this article, look at your dream clients and build a plan to prove you belong in the room with them as they pursue their future results.


Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on September 10, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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