It’s no secret that today’s retail customer has access to infinitely more information on products and services than ever before. Manufacturers, retail outlets and third party reviewers alike are creating an information landscape which is tilted in the consumer’s favor.
A Google search for any product will yield pages and pages of results for the consumer to cull and digest. Your clients will arm themselves with folders of printouts, reviews and spreadsheets and then hit the streets!
There Is A Difference
This more informed consumer is coming to us deeper into the selling cycle than ever before. Our job is to show the client there is a significant difference between their information and your hard earned knowledge.
in·for·ma·tion (noun) 1. facts provided or learned about something or someone.
knowl·edge (noun) 1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
The way most people recognize the difference between information and knowledge is by referencing whether a person has “book smarts” or “street smarts”. For example, it’s one thing to read the fact that fire is hot (FYI: 1,100°F – 2,700°F). It’s a completely different thing to get burned. One is information… the other is knowledge.
A Tale Of Two Mattresses
A great example of this was a customer who had printouts of two mattresses. His analysis of the features led him to believe these were his best options and he was shopping to get the best price. Without hesitation, I told him how impressed I was with his research. “It’s apparent you spent a lot of time on this decision.”
Because of my knowledge, I recognized that his options made very little sense. “If these were vehicles, you basically narrowed your choice to a powerful sports car and a family friendly minivan. Cost notwithstanding, help me understand what you are really looking for in a mattress.” He had lots of information, I helped him by adding my knowledge.
Working With Researchers
When you are working with a customer who has the confidence of their own research, these three steps can help them accept your help:
Acknowledge The Effort. Let the client know they did great prep work. Tell them that more and more of your best clients are doing research before coming to you. Using third-party affirmation and naming them one of your best clients will help them listen to your offer.
Focus Their Concern. Ask the client to prioritize their concerns. Manufacturers highlight specific aspects of their products and consumer reviews are all over the place. Recognize that the sources they are using a strong, then, going back to your Qualifying, get the client to tell you what is most important to them.
Overlay Your Knowledge. Using the client research and your better Qualifying you can position your knowledge as an extension of the customer’s work. Use phrasing along this line, “Based on your information and needs, I believe this is going to be your best option, and here’s why…”
Today’s customer is more informed and is a more aggressive shopper than at any time in the past. As sales professionals we must “sharpen our saws” to both match the information gains and present the power and value of our knowledge.