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Competitive insights for sales in the Internet era 1

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Vladimir Milanovic
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Many businesses are challenged in terms of how to reposition in order to remain competitive in the IT and Internet era. Traditional sales methods are not as effective as they once were. It is the fact that technology develops fast and customers research quickly with such ease that it is changing the landscape of doing business. We are no longer dealing with transactions but rather relationships with prospective and existing customers.

The ability to navigate and become a player in the new era most likely requires a significant investment in different technologies and a better understanding of the prospective customers’ behaviour. The new era presents an amazing opportunity for both success and failure. The following paragraphs highlight the factors that contribute to the opportunity that capacitates success.

Geography of customers

If the business deals with professional services, advice or even retailing sectors, the ability to sell to a broader audience is greatly increased. Breaking into new markets can be much faster due to the ability to get immediate exposure via social media, digital PR campaigns or other viral technologies. Advertising was quite limited until recently and prospective customers and businesses used the Yellow Pages for locating companies. I can’t remember, thankfully, the last time I saw that book.

Video conferencing

The scope of video conferencing doesn’t have to be reserved only to making video calls, it can be used as an excellent tool for demonstrating products to anyone in the world from anywhere in the world. It is not uncommon in software purchases today to have someone from abroad make a demonstration of a software or service. Perhaps after another round of discussions via conference, a decision can be made. The transaction is often made without the requirement of local employees or third party distributors. It is better to have a conference with an expert than speak face to face with someone who isn’t really that knowledgeable, isn’t it?

Company website

The website has become the primary tool for marketing a company. Prospective customers create their first impression of the company by visiting its website. Information published on the website, including company profiles, customers and suppliers is publicly available. The attention that the prospective provider dedicates towards the image and brand of their organisation tells the prospective customers a great deal about the company and greatly impacts the company’s ability to attract new customers.

Self-education

The ability to easily research is changing the value a supplier can offer to a customer. For example, in the past, a customer would ask suppliers to advise and to provide a quote. The value was inherent to the advice but often built in the price. A consultant would perform research and provide a quotation. It often happens that a customer takes that advice and after a quick research on Google finds a cheaper price on the Internet. The customer then makes inquiries about the quotation and asks for an explanation. How suppliers extract the real value and charge for that service will be a determinant factor in their ability to navigate the transition.

Public information

Making a first appointment today is different from what it was five years ago. Sales consultants used to make meetings to present the company and aim to make a second appointment. However, today, most companies that are serious about accepting an appointment from a service provider will already have read the supplier’s website, their offer and the people associated with the company. Since the company has already created its first impression from the website, they are a step ahead in deciding whether to make an appointment or not. The introduction appointment is no longer relevant. The customer wants to know more than they can already find easily and quickly.

Purchase and use

One of the greatest advantages of the Internet is the ability to purchase software or information quickly and start using it. Only a few years ago, it was common that software you purchased was on a specific media and that the license for it came printed on the back of the media box. Thankfully the model improved and we can make use of software quickly. Can you imagine that copies of Windows used to be out of stock and it was necessary to wait before it could be purchased?

Staying competitive in today’s business world in many cases will require a serious overhaul of a company’s offering to clearly understand the value they create for their customers and to better articulate their service offerings. Being transparent and using the IT tools and the Internet more effectively is a good start that is providing new sales.

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About Vladimir Milanovic

Vladimir Milanovic
Vladimir has been working with GCOMM since 2010 on the design and implementation of the recent branding and marketing strategies. He was also responsible for the rebranding of LiveBackup in 2012. Between 2006 and 2010 he was involved in the creation and launch of Imperial Tobacco’s European BTL platform for its Davidoff brand as well as for the rebranding of French icon, Gitanes. Vladimir graduated from the Belgrade University of Arts in 2005.
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  • Matthew Thompson

    Good article here Vladimir. We are finding the use of Webinars to be a great way to achieve a “one to many” sales process. I recently worked with a customer of mine and they had over 45 new and potential clients interact into their webinar providing questions, feedback and thoughts. It is true that many companies research prior to making a commitment to meet however the sales process of face to face and developing rapport and trust is still an important step in the business to business transaction.