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Go 100% Digital...or Develop Better Sellers?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 2/7/22 7:15 AM

Digital or Develop Better Sellers

Can you really afford to not be buyer first in your sales process? Not anymore, you can't. Technology must enhance the human experience to further advance your buyer toward deciding whether they will buy your product.

How a truck-buying experience got me thinking, about whether to go 100% digital or develop better sellers.

After our old truck, went into the shop and didn't come back out again, I got a loan through a credit union, for a pre-approved one I found on Carfax.

The truck that we wanted at a dealership was close to my hubby's work and was really, really close to our budget. 

So what do I do? I sent my husband over to the dealership to test drive it out. He pulls in, and he looks around and there's nobody around. The truck wasn’t even ready for him.

So he goes into the dealership and he's trying to find anyone who can help, and who you found was a gentleman named Sean. [We're going to protect the name of the guilty. Sean wasn't his real name.]

The first thing he said, was “What do I do I got to do to get you in this truck?”

Wait that was his serious first question? This is 2021 People! 

So we went in, sat down --he had a checklist. How about your financing? And I informed him that I was already approved for this much. So he goes to see his manager, Mr. Big. 

Mr. Big sits down and says “My goal Steve, is to move metal. That's what I do here I can't come down to 987. I bought the truck at wholesale”. So we go back and forth back and forth.

My Blood starts to boil. They are not listening to anything I'm saying, Mr. Big leaves, and Sean comes back. Sean asks me the same redundant or irrelevant questions numerous times and more trips to see Mr. Big. 

We didn't buy the truck. 

But we did end up finding another one. So I went to another dealership after listening to Steve rant and rave on the way home about how much he hated this dealership and there's no way he's buying anything from them ever.

I found another local dealership, that had the truck ready. They gave him the price that we needed. Gave us what we wanted for the trade-in value for our car because they knew we'd already been online and found out all of this information like this.

This Shawn guy… does he think the internet doesn't exist? And we don't know what it's actually worth? 

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “What is this have to do with my own B2B sales process and how I sell the buyers? I would never do that to one of my customers”.

Are you sure about that? 

Time for some real talk now.

Did you know that Gartner's 2021 digital buying survey suggested that 43% of B2B buyers prefer a digital experience?

  • How we buy as consumers most definitely impacts how we want to buy as business professionals.
  • We've come to expect the transparency of information and a buying experience.
  • We decide on how to engage not the other way around.
Now hearing that as a leader:

You're really faced with two choices. Go 100% digital or develop better sellers. Now, which are you going to choose to invest in? Most people who I've talked to and shared this with that weren't at the Gartner conference said, “Let's go a hundred percent digital. I mean it's so much easier to manage technology than people, right?”

And with this hiring crisis that's happening, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Then I tell them that, the survey also showed that those same buyers who wanted that rep-free digital experience also had a 23% higher level of purchase regret or buyer's remorse.

And that means the "C"-word, the "C"-word that not enough of us are talking about or proactively doing anything about but are very secretly scared of, you know, that "C". 

Yeah, it's churn. 

Still think 100% digital is the way to go?

Now, the survey also suggested that when decision confidence is high, buyer regret is low and they measured for things to determine that such as;

  • They've asked the right questions
  • They've identified the best information.
  • They're aligned at key decision points.
  • In the decision-making process, they know how the purchase is going to positively impact their business and they feel that the purchase was a good decision.

Did you notice that all of these are based on what the buyer knows? And understands and feels?

So no, you cannot afford to not be buyer first in your sales process…Not anymore. You just can't. 

Now, the survey also suggested that those key drivers of their decision confidence came from the group consensus on their business problem and the group consensus on their range of solutions and options for that problem and how that solution was different from what they've tried before.

It is also dependent on how well the reps understood their problem and how well the reps were able to explain the solution for that problem.

Here's the thing though, all of those drivers only had about a 5 to 8 percent impact on the buying experience. But the Rep's ability to use technology to facilitate that group-buying process is what had a 17 percent impact.

So it's really not any surprise that it isn't just one thing or the other. 
  • It's not whether or not you go 100% digital or develop better sellers.
  • It is more about how well you and your reps are integrating the two together.
  • And how you do that is going to completely depend on your specific buyers’ preferences.

Let's say for example that you sell SAS technology, think about how you're using your demo when your sales process. Probably somewhere at the end, right? After you've gotten all of the info that you need to know if they can actually buy. And will actually buy. 

Now, take a look at your conversion drop-off rate after your discovery and before your demo. What do you think would happen instead of forcing your buyers to go through your checklist before they could see your product? 

Like the first dealership did to Steve and me.

If you instead found out what they most wanted to see how that was important to the problem, they were trying to solve and show them that one thing. 

Now instead of telling them how it would solve their problem, instead ask them, "How do they think that would impact their problem?", and, "How is that different from how they're doing it now?". 

Like a really bad and really good truck-buying experience

How well you're able to use technology to enable and enhance the human experience has a huge impact on whether or not they will buy, not churn.

Keep learning out there and keep sharing. Until next time.


💬"...written with bravery about topics that need to be discussed more often."
💬" this honest post - I have shared it with my whole team."
💬"...this is spot on and much needed!"

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Topics: sales strategy, sales coach, sales management, sales leadership