This is the first part of a three part deep dive guest post about Buyer 2.0 written by Darren Stordahl

Recently, FMT attended an interesting partner conference at Microsoft campus in Redmond, where an excellent presenter shared his perspective on today’s “Buyer 2.0”. His assertion, was that in the modern supply chain, buyers are engaging much later in the evaluation cycle.

Before ever speaking with the manufacturer, distributor or service-provider, this new buyer has self-educated and conducted significant anonymous research in order to become highly informed. Buyer 2.0 carries an industry-specific expectation, avoids risk, maintains broad social media connections, and has high expectations for service quality and speed to fulfillment. They Tweet.

The impact of Buyer 2.0 on sequential and historical stage-based sales models includes lower conversion rates, prospects falling out of the funnel at unpredictable intervals, lack of connection/clarity into the customer relationship, and a reduction in perceived value in products and services. Can technology fix this? Would adjustments to CRM or the martech stack help to realign the business approach? Yes, but mostly, no. It takes good technology… and more. Accommodating Buyer 2.0 requires more than a field reconfiguration in Salesforce or an Advanced Find in Dynamics 365.

From a Buyer 2.0 perspective, sales teams provide less unique product knowledge than at any time in history. Today, the Buyer can find a great deal of information with a few clicks. Pricing, product performance, compatibility and competitors are all within ready reach.  Marketing is in ascendency in terms of influencing customer engagement, education and retention, while conventional sales teams are losing their relevance as sources of information and insight.

Cold calling doesn’t work. Emails get filtered and junked. The time to make a good impression, is at the outset. Connect in the first meeting, or don’t connect at all. Compelling stuff for someone who has spent years (decades) working in the customer engagement business and offers products and services ranging from marketing automation and analytics through CRM, SFA, collaboration and customer support.

Sales professionals matter. Just in a different way. The faster we adapt to Buyer 2.0, the better our business. Technology helps (thank you CRM!), but it’s much more than sales-stages and opportunity management. 

Read more in the second part: From Flat to Fantastic.