Tom Pisello has sparked us to revisit this topic to see the latest thinking; how much of their journey is complete before they make contact varies upwards from 57% and I have even seen numbers around 80%.
For those who have not seen this before, the concept is that as a result of the internet people wishing to purchase a product or solution can do their own research, decide what they want to buy, create a shortlist of possible suppliers and only then contact those suppliers. If the intended purchase is straightforward; a washing machine, laptop computer, accounting package for a small business, etc., then the process may provide a good result for the customer but the supplier is largely relegated to a passenger on the buying journey.
However for more complex problems the internet is far less useful and the prospective buyer will need to engage with suppliers at a much earlier stage. Add to that circumstances that businesses do not yet see as problems and only when approached by a sales person do they realise that not only do they have a problem but oh joy! there is already a solution available. By way of an example consider low energy lighting; this is a solution that can cut electricity bills by 80%, is maintenance free, comes with a 10 year guarantee and will repay the initial investment in 30 months or so. Few businesses have the foresight to research this problem/solution though.
The issue for the supplier is not so much being a passenger on the buying journey but the increased risk of missing the train altogether.
Tom Pisello, The RoI Guy, Founder of Alinean has written an excellent blog “Early Bird Catches Worm“ based on research into this topic.
Whether you subscribe to the current fashion of The Challenger Sale, Tom’s route to “establish the clear path from vision to value” or are more traditional, following the Solution or Consultative approach to selling, our message is the same; engage early, educate the customer in the issues they have not yet acknowledged and shape the opportunity towards your solution.