We used to live in a world of information assymetry. The saying was, “buyers beware”. That was because information was hard to get to and privileged people had access. Sellers knew more. They knew if the car they were selling had problems. They knew what problems their vacuum cleaner was causing in the market.
They also knew about price, competition and ways to get the most of out the product or service. We talked to such people to help us get more information and balance the gap.
However, the internet changed all that. We can search and find what we are looking for with a few keystrokes. Google is even getting smarter to predict and customize our search results based on our behaviors and preferences.
Furthermore, we can ask our friends on social media whether the vacation package is worthwhile or a new computer will flake out. It doesn’t matter where they live or who they are. We can find out information from strangers as well as search engines.
This has caused information symmetry. Buyers have more information than sellers often times. This happens in so many instances. You can go to Best Buy and tell the salesperson what problems the new digital book reader is facing.
Buyers research cars on Edmunds and then go in to a car dealer to tell the salesperson exactly what they want at what price based on the invoice price they can access online.
Homebuyers use Trulia to find out the value of homes and then tell their realtors where they want to go and what price they are willing to pay.
This means that your job in selling your products and services is not about slick gimmicks or pressure tactics. It is about being a thought leader and helping to identify the problem your customer is trying to solve. It is a special skill and one that can build trust. The skill set is entirely different than times past.
First, it means that buying is a more collaborative process. The buyer and the seller are not working from a one-sided information advantage with the seller. Many times, buyers have as much information. This can be revealed in the content they present or the questions they ask.
Thus, the seller has to move towards problem identification. Looking at the specific problem at hand rather than a broad perspective becomes more important. It is customized advice and problem-solving around the buyer’s context.
Second, the seller has to bring more meaning and thought that is showcased. Listening and understanding are critical. This not only means listening to buyers in their problems, but it also means keeping a pulse on the industry and deciphering what matters and is of value. It is a form of curation.
There’s plenty of information out there. Turning that into knowledge that has meaning and value for the buyer is value. They are looking for expedience and effective solutions. The noise and overwhelming information out there is a lot of work for someone on the outside to sift through.
An expert that can get to what matters and works saves time and creates efficiencies for people. This is of high value in our economy where our attention is a highly prized and guarded asset.
We are at a point in the information age where many industries have been impacted by the reality of information symmetry between buyers and sellers. It has put organizations out of business and salespeople out of work when they have not adapted to the new reality.
If you are fortunate to be able to operate under the old paradigm, it is just a matter of time. The better strategy is to be positioned as the thought leader and learn to sell around collaboration and problem identification.
Think about it. When your buyers know so much or can simply find it quickly, how else could you sell? This is where a strong content strategy is critical.