Google Power Has Changed the Buyer-Seller Relationship

Takeaway

As a marketing and sales leader it’s just good sales hygiene to have someone regularly “google” as if they were a prospect for your product or service. That way issues that show up can be addressed so they do not adversely affect your prospect’s perspective and your pipeline growth.

My recent shopping experience for new health insurance provides a vivid example of the importance of doing this. An insurance salesman called me last week. I took down all the information, got his name and the name of the company he represented, and after the call I googled to find out about them.

The first page of Google results showed three listings that had fraud or something to that effect in the title related to this company. Needless to say, I saved myself time and headache and dropped that candidate fast. My future calls will be limited to only those that have survived my online research and vetting process. You too have probably had your own experience of Google-enabled “empowerment.”

The Game Has Changed – Have You?

As the saying goes, the game has changed. Those who learn the new rules of selling brought on by this rebalance of power will have the edge. Those using old game strategies will find they are losing points.

“Google Power” arms your prospects with information so they have a broader view of their options. Expert searcher Chris Sherman, recently published Google Power to help everyone “unleash the power of Google.” The power of Googled information acts as an equalizer between buyer and seller.

Consider this new-found buyer power within an enterprise selling situation. Buyers are now armed with much more knowledge and insights about the product or service they need. Just as I found “the dirt” on this insurance company, your prospective customers can find “the dirt” on you and your company. It doesn’t matter if the negative news relates to technical aspects of your product or service or to sales tactics. The fact is the news creates a hurdle, and in a worse case a wall, for your prospects and your sales team.

Of course, you work for a reputable company and few Google results for your company are negative. Nevertheless, this “google factor” still changes the landscape for your sales team. Your prospects have likely done their research and know the trade-offs between their top options including your competitors. This knowledge readies them to ask more pointed questions in order to address whatever they found out online about your company. If your salespeople deny, lie, or fail to appropriately address these facts, then prospects will not continue their buying process with your company.

Sales Tactics Must Evolve

Most sales professionals have evolved and truly respect the relationship with their prospects and clients. Yet, I still hear enough commando type stories that I think it’s worth mentioning that traditional “pressure tactics” are out of sync with the new balance of power. Companies and sales leaders who allow these outdated selling techniques do so at their own risk. The Google effect means that even one negative sales experience that gets reported on a user forum potentially affects business prospects for your entire sales team. Consultative selling is in. For thought leadership on Sales 2.0 see the interview with Jill Konrath called “Don’t Become a Sales Dinosaur“.

Don’t let Google results work against your sales efforts. Good sales hygiene includes regular googling the way your prospective clients use Google, training your salesforce and channel partners on how to address the issues that show up in Google results, and updating sales tactics to ensure they fit with the new balance of power between buyer and seller.

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