Thomas is Operational Manager for a logistics company with 23 lorries on the road. Tight margins in the sector brought the director of Thomas’ company to start looking for ways to cut costs. Together they’ve identified a number of issues that regularly cause problems, such as poor agreements about pick-up and delivery times and driving empty lorries back, all of which comes at a cost. Thomas’ bonus this year largely depends on him finding a solution!
How Thomas buys
He’s known for a long time that there’s software available for optimising the planning. And he’s already looked at how much it costs, but at the time he only saw the investment cost. Now, with pressure coming from management, Thomas decides to take to the internet again to get a global idea of the solutions available for his problem, work out roughly what it costs, and see how much it could help the company save in terms of unnecessary costs.
The conclusion of this ROI exercise is positive: Thomas finds that resolving the issue would cost considerably less than suffering more losses in the current situation. Then he keeps searching to see exactly what his company needs. He looks for opinions and feedback from peers, and tries to find out what differentiates the good software from the bad. He wants to know which providers are offering top notch solutions. And what differences there are between all these providers and their products.
With his list of ‘buying criteria’ ready, he invites three providers who seem to be offering more or less the same software. Together with his manager, Thomas decides to sign with the cheapest provider.
Sales reps still have an important role to play
There’s a good chance that Thomas’ story sounds familiar to many readers of this post. We speak with lots of companies whose margins are deteriorating in a price war with competitors.
But the fact that customers are smarter these days, and have already compared your product features with those of your competitors before ever contacting you, doesn’t mean that the salesperson no longer has a role to play. Online information isn’t always correct, for example, and it might even be irrelevant in the customer’s specific case. Buyers don’t always know how to get good value from the information they gathered, either. And that’s exactly how salespeople can help them – by leading them along the right lines.
Salespeople who succeed in the digital era often have this attitude:
- Align the sales strategy with the phases the customer goes through in their buying cycle
- Take the right action at the right time with the right contact person
- Strongly believe that helping customers is their top priority
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