The buying process is changing all the time.
If you look at the – quite frankly – takeover by Amazon of our buying behavior, what you’re going to see is less frustration and more ease in purchasing things. And the way that we can now interact with vendors and suppliers is quite different than it was just a couple of years ago.
What’s lagged behind are a lot of business-to-business organizations and a lot of less forward-thinking retail or business-to-consumer organizations who believe that the old way might still work in the days of tomorrow. What they don’t realize is the days of tomorrow have already come. They’ve already come.
Listen to the audio version of this post
We are in a stage where we can yell for something to arrive at our house this afternoon to a voice box (Amazon Alexa, Google Home) in our home, and that’s a reality. Now, when we are still asking for things like Social Security number and mother’s maiden name in forms on our website just to speak with a sales representative, there’s an imbalance there.
If we can take a lesson from some of the things that are being done in more forward-thinking e-commerce and the world at large… Look at how things are being made easier. Instead of having to call the cab company, I can just press a button and a limousine (Uber, Lyft) arrives for me immediately, within a couple of minutes. That’s amazing.
We need to adapt. That doesn’t mean we need to go and build an app to accomplish these things. It just means we need to open up the channels a little bit more. It means that we need to be not so tied in to the walls that we’ve put up for so many years to help qualify these leads so that we can protect our time.
I think what we’ve done by hiding information and putting up these walls of qualification is we’ve made a situation where we won’t share any information on our websites, so we force more people to fill out the form to get the information that they need than otherwise would.
We have to qualify a lot of those people out, whereas if we had shared more information about what it is that we do, how much it costs, what it means for the organization that they might be representing, then they might not fill out the form in the first place.
If we can look at that in two ways – one, share more information up front, and then two, make it easier for them to speak with us about their inquiry – then we’ve done a major shift in thinking for helping this person make a decision. That’s really what we’re trying to do. We need to help them make a decision.
Things like live chat are helping to make direct communication seamless. Nobody wants to be sold to; but everybody wants to go shopping. If we can help them shop, then we’ve done something right. Buyers have shifted their mindset only in that people have made it easier in other areas. As consumers, we always want it to be easier to go shopping. As suppliers, we just have to adjust our behaviors to meet their needs as much of the market has. Unless we want to be left behind, of course.