Leads in your sales funnel know more about your product than your salespeople do

Posted by Daryn on 17 April 2014 | Comments


In a study conducted by Forbes Insight, 58% of buyers reported that sales reps are unable to answer their questions effectively. This might sound bizarre; surely salespeople are experts on the products they’re selling? How could someone walking in off the street know more about a product than the salesperson does?

Here’s the thing: customers today don’t simply just ‘walk in off the street’.

The idea that customers today walk into shops with an open mind and no preconceptions about what they’re going to buy is a fallacy. Perhaps in the past, when consumers didn’t have access to the amount of information that they do today, this was the case. These days, however, consumers hardly ever go out to buy anything significant without doing some online research beforehand.

Consumers know that salespeople are gunning for their commission.

Consumers have become wise to sales tactics. They know that the seemingly helpful salesperson urging them to buy a newer, more expensive item might not have their best interests at heart.

Here’s an example of a tried-and-tested retail sales tactic. Imagine that you spot a newspaper insert listing the best special deals on offer at your local home appliance store. You’re after a flat screen TV and you spot one going for 20% less than its usual price, so you head directly for the store. When you get there, however, the salesperson starts telling you why you should really buy the newer model, instead – not the one that’s on sale. This newer model has a load of exciting features and a far superior picture to the one on sale. If the salesperson is good enough, you might fall for this and buy the more expensive TV – even though the only reason you came into the store in the first place was to get something on special.

The fact is that the salesperson has been instructed not to sell anything on special. Once the promise of a special deal has lured customers into the store, the salesperson’s job is to try selling them something else entirely. To incentivise salespeople to do this, items that are on sale don’t actually carry any commission. From the salesperson’s perspective, what the customer actually needs isn’t important. What’s important is selling an expensive TV and getting a cut.

To avoid being fleeced, consumers use the internet to conduct extensive research on products long before they walk into a store.

Independent online research is a driving factor behind the modern sales funnel. Leads who enter the top of the sales funnel are at the very beginning stages of their independent research. Before they make any decisions about what to buy, they’re going to do a lot of research on the various products available. They’ll compare features, vendors and prices and visit numerous review sites like Hello Peter. They’ll watch YouTube videos, download eBooks and ask for feedback in public forums.

By the time they reach the bottom of the sales funnel, consumers are pretty clued up about the products they plan to buy.

Only once they are armed with all of this independently gathered knowledge does a potential customer walk into a store. They might have one or two questions they want to ask the salesperson, but because they are so well educated about the product, the questions are usually highly technical or very nuanced. Because the salesperson is only trained on the selling points of the particular products that they sell, they aren’t necessarily industry experts. As a result, they’re often unable to answer consumers’ questions. 

Brands need to stop treating consumers like idiots.

Brands need to recognise that consumers today are incredibly savvy and well informed. By the time a lead arrives at the bottom of the sales funnel, they have long since made their mind up about what they intend to buy. This means that you need to work on influencing their buying decisions from the moment they first enter the top of the sales funnel – not from the moment they walk through your store’s door.

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Author:Daryn Smith

Image credit: Liveworks Studio



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