Two Ears, One Mouth & Ever-Changing Expectations

Is it just us, or does technology make it easier to work out what we want, and yet seemingly harder to get it? Okay, it’s easy to order, but if we could just talk to someone… From the suppliers’ point of view, is technology giving a little dangerous knowledge to more and more confused buyers?

Salespeople across the world are seeing increased involvement from different generations getting involved in purchasing decisions for businesses.

As different departments and levels of seniority get involved in purchasing decisions, it’s fair to say that so too do a wider range of purchasing motivators.

A recent global survey conducted by TACK International, covering over 630 respondents in 31 countries, concluded that 91% of customers looked for new suppliers of one form or another in the last 12 months.

This may speak volumes on the opportunities that exist for hungry new sales teams, but it should also reinforce the importance of continuing to provide the service our present clients expect in order to retain their business.

One reason customers are looking for new suppliers is for fresh ideas and solutions, and although it may not be entirely due to this, the rise in people that fall into the Generation Y bracket (born between 1981 and mid 1990s) may have influenced a drive in innovation.

Why Generation Y?

With 18% of the survey respondents being in the 21-33 age bracket, it’s clear that Generation Y is having an increased amount of influence on purchasing decisions, which brings a need for salespeople to develop new ways of working to allow for a wider variation of buying behaviours.

You might expect that preferred methods of communication would shift to more social channels, however the death knell of email has been rung before, yet half of customers still prefer to be contacted that way. The majority of the other half favour phone calls.

Although customers might not want to be contacted through social media channels, salespeople should be utilising the platforms as a source of information. Channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter can provide extensive information on a company, and sales teams should be taking advantage of this free information during their research on potential purchasers before making contact.

When asked how good salespeople are at questioning to assess needs, 63% of respondents answered fair or poor.

Even more revealing, over half of customers think they aren’t getting what they need, surely increasing the chance of them looking for a new supplier again.

Not a great surprise then that business customers feel they aren’t being listened to, and salespeople tend to talk about their own services rather than ask about the purchasing company’s needs.

If sales teams were to adopt a two ears, one mouth approach, prioritising the needs of the customer and making recommendations based on those requirements, both sides of the fence are likely to see an advantage.

“Anyway, enough about you, here’s more great things about me/our products. They’re great, you’ll love them, sorry, what was it you wanted again?”

Retaining brand reputation

This approach shouldn’t be reserved just for potential new customers though, keeping long term customers happy is vital for maintaining and improving brand reputation.

Suppliers that do not truly understand customer needs run the risk of damaging their reputation by not delivering solutions that match the requirement.

If word gets out that a client feels under-serviced, it increases the chances of potential new clients choosing a different supplier with a more polished reputation. And lo and behold, that’s where social media users excel, telling the world about poor service experiences!

Sales teams that succeed develop their questioning and listening skills to correspond with a new generation of buyers, as well as check they are still meeting the requirements of their existing client-base.

With social and digital media so readily available on most companies, salespeople have the resources to adjust their approach in order to provide a more bespoke service, keeping customers new and old happy.