The New Value of Sales Interactions

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Over the last couple of years I have become addicted to the art of riding sport motorcycles. I’ve taken several track training courses and have also purchased a couple of different bikes as I have gotten deeper into the sport. Earlier this week while attending the Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco, one of the keynote speakers made a good point about the large amount of product information available on the web these days, coupled with customer videos on YouTube and such, buyers have much less need for sales people to educate them on product value propositions. The result being they are now contacted very late in customer buying cycles.

Recently I traded in a relatively new high-performance sport bike for a new small engined Kawasaki Ninja 300 – which I stumbled across while reading the web on a Saturday morning. I had been looking for a very, very light weight and super fuel efficient commuter bike and after reading the bike specifications and looking at YouTube enthusiast videos I was sold. The next day I called my local Kawasaki dealer and spoke with Tom a sales rep I had worked with in the past and he quickly and happily sold me the new bike. What was interesting though was that when we were doing the paperwork, I inquired why he had not mentioned that Kawasaki was coming out with a completely new bike just a few weeks before and he said the bike was a ‘complete surprise to him’ when it was announced.

Usually, he said he would have had a few months of advanced notice of a new bike and would have spent some time with a dealer representative to get the full background on the bike prior to delivery to the shop. I had to wonder, if I knew more about the bike then he did, which I did, what value did Tom now provide? A great deal of value, but a different kind of value. Instead of product advice, though I still do value his opinion, Tom’s role was to keep me interested in his dealership and working with him. With this loss of product information value, now sales representatives better have an excellent contact management tool to help them maintain and grow loyal customer relationships. Without one, they are just pricers…and that is not a good position to be in as a sales representative.

Kathy Eckel