68% of your customerswould rather find out information themselves online instead of with the help of your sales team.
Are we witnessing the end of the sales people in our industry? It’s a scary thought, but when I looked at the above graph, I decided that it’s a topic worth discussing. While they are not obsolete yet, the role of sales people in technology sales is certainly changing. How are you adapting to this change?
The wording here is a bit awkward, but in simple terms, buyers want to find out information themselves instead of getting that information provided to them by a salesperson. The increase to 68% from 53% in just two years is substantial. Successful vendors over the past few years have adapted their product offerings so that customers can decide for themselves to see which product is right for them. Some great examples of this are:
Why can’t we do this with office imaging technology?
The primary objection we get straight away is:
Really? Or are we just making this far too complicated? The main functions of an office MFP are well understood by I.T. folks (print, scan to email, hold and release, document management, etc.). A printer puts marks on paper. If we continue to believe that printer selection is like some weird form of Ouija where a customer is mysteriously guided by an all-knowing salesperson, then we as an industry are entirely missing the opportunity of e-commerce.
The above graph CLEARLY shows that buyers are not playing that game anymore. They want to do research on their own. A major part of research is finding out the price of a product or service. It is acceptable if some products do not have a price, especially very large devices, but for products with costs of less than $3,000, prices should be available. If the product price is not available on your site but is available somewhere else, it is highly likely the customer will leave.
Imagine if an employee is tasked by an owner to research a print device. They looked over many options and collected key data sets and comparable device information. Price is essential here. Your workflow requires a customer to call you to get pricing information, but will they? That would delay a task being completed. They cannot give the boss a recommendation without a price. Other products and sites include prices. Will they base a decision on those, or call you for information? 68% will not call!
Of course, some larger customers have more complex needs and will require some assistance, but smaller customers do not. They need a selection of products and self-service ability to source products that match their needs.
One great path forward is with Seat Based Billing. I must admit that my first impression of SBB was that it was another complicated variant of MPS, which has become very complicated in its own right. But SBB is EXACTLY the type of program that dealers should be promoting online. West McDonald and Print Audit have done a great job promoting SBB. You can find more about it here.
SBB is a product that can be bought online as a subscription, the same way the above examples like SalesForce and Shopify can be. SBB is a great example of how you can take complex processes and make them easy to acquire. It packages print into something that is more easily understood to IT decision makers.
A wise mentor once told me that the art of successful sales is to take a complex problem and deliver a simple solution. Sometimes I feel like salespeople in our industry take a simple problem like acquiring an office printer and propose a complex solution. The direction of product research and acquisition is moving almost exclusively online. What is the role of a BTA salesperson in this new sales world? Managing the relationship between your company and your customers…come to think of it, successful sales reps have always done that. Product and box pushers are going to the way of the fax machine.