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How has the Internet changed the first interaction...

In your opinion, how has the Internet changed the timing and the nature of the first interaction between Buyers and Sellers? - by Community Mailbox
More information is available to both the prospect and the salesperson before they have their first conversation.

Many salespeople forget to STILL do the things they need to do, like building rapport with each other, which helps build trust....and just launch into their 'sales pitch'.

Or the Prospect has gathered a lot of information about your services and you much too quickly go to what you can do for them and 'prematurely give them a proposal or quote'....so it doesn't always make the interaction between prospect and salesperson go as well as it should. - by Paulette Halpern
When using the internet as a "first contact" tool you should remember WIIFM, what's in it for me. By designing your message around the most desirable benefits you provide you'll attract people either looking for that benefit or interested in finding out more. Your first contact should be part of a campaign designed to get your prospect to continue to open your emails. If there's no benefit to them why would they keep you off their spam list. - by mkelly2020
There are 13 steps a buyer must go through before they buy. Three of these steps are on line. The first on-line step is when one person has an idea - pre solution choice. They used to read magazines, talk to buddies, etc. before the internet. Now they go on line and do some reading, research. This is the stage before they begin bringing their idea to a few buddies. So the internet has certainly made it possible to get educated. It's also taking away the job of the seller.

You know that my model is called Buying Facilitation(r). It leads buyers through their entire change management/non-solution-related/behind-the-scenes decision journey. Sales doesn't manage this back-end piece; currently the internet doesn't either. But I've developed a new marketing automation capability that triggers the buyer through each step of their off-line AND on-line decision process, even from the first contact with the web.

Hope this helps.
sd - by Sharon Drew Morgen
In your opinion, how has the Internet changed the timing and the nature of the first interaction between Buyers and Sellers?
This topic has come up before here.

Obviously the Internet has grown as a source of information which prospective buyers become armed with. It's not a stretch to say that it will continue to grow as such a source.

That said, before we get carried away, we need to acknowledge that prospective buyers have always had information available to them from several sources. Among them are past experiences, opinions of people they know, advertising, consumer magazines, AND--your competitors. To suggest that buyers don't use the information they received from your competitors when engaged in a conversation with you is simply not realistic.

What makes the Internet different from other sources? Certainly the answer is not credibility.

I see no reason to make a distinction for the Internet which would alter a previously successful methodology in selling. For example, I'll cite the SPIN Selling model which engages a series of questions involving Prospect's situation, existing problems, the implications of making changes that would improve the situation and remove or lessen the problems, and, finally, the needs payoff of implementing the seller's proposal.

The sources of the prospect's information would probably be revealed during this process, but there isn't any evidence that any particular source would effect the course of events if the salesperson was proceeding properly. - by Gary A Boye
So the internet has certainly made it possible to get educated. It's also taking away the job of the seller.
My question to you on both those statements would be: To what extent?

And these questions:

Was it possible to get educated before the Internet? Is the information on the Internet less in need of careful discerning than other sources? When you refer to "job of the seller", are you saying that the "seller" is becoming extinct, or, are you saying that part of the seller's previous functions are now being performed by the Internet? - by Gary A Boye
In major B2B the internet has changed the expectations of buyers. There is clearly a huge amount of information that can be and should be found out about the company and the person before the first interaction that was not easily available heretofore.

This means the account executive can spend the face time finding out stuff that is not available on the internet - which in a complex sale is alot of information. The rep can ask quetions which are much sharper and focused. The higher up in the organization the higher the expectation is for having found out things - one does not want to be finding out basic information at a senior level.

dick ruff - by richard ruff
Good points, Dick. Yes--the salesperson getting information is another side of the picture. - by Gary A Boye
This is an interesting question within my industry. We have always had some clients that purchase their own products and then hire out the installation. I have not noticed more customers purchasing their own products even though the internet has made this part easier for the customer. The internet has made the purchase easier however the way the merchandise is delivered has stayed the same.

I am sure more of my customers have used the internet to gain more information. I use the internet as a tool to verify the information I give to my customers. This separates me from the competition. People like to use the internet and they love to show me what information they can gather. I give them information to research while I am there. This gains and gives me cooperation and helps to convince the customer beyond a shadow of a doubt a good decision.

Has it changed the timing in my Industry I would say no as I am in the service industry and the customer has a problem that requires attention the majority of the time. It has changed the nature of the business as it forces the service technician to have product and service knowledge that can be explained in easy terminology. It has forced the service technician to learn how to communicate more efficiently beyond I am here to fix your problem where is it. - by rich34232
Referrals and direct knowledge is now being replaced with internet information and user reviews.

More and more first interaction occurs via internet.

It is impossible not to take into consideration this impact: costumers can found tons of information on the internet and also get first hand opinions from professional reviewers and common citizens. - by mastermind_cca
In your opinion, how has the Internet changed the timing and the nature of the first interaction between Buyers and Sellers?
Let's say that I find myself in acute need of a plumber.

Since I do not have a friend in the business and have long since used the Yellow Pages I access the Internet to conduct a search for plumbers in my area.

Chances are good that the plumbers showing up in that search are the only plumbers I will choose from. I immediately have a short list. (Think Limited Data Set)

To weed down the choices I visit a few of the plumber's websites or read what others have said about their experiences with a particular plumber.

Chances are good that some of the plumbers on my short list will be eliminated based on my gut feelings after viewing the website and/or reading the reviews.

As it relates to timing and the nature of the first interaction, by the time I call my plumber of first choice I am much further in the decision making process and the business is often his or hers to lose. - by Jeff Blackwell
Interesting comment Jeff .I have said for many years that our company needs to have a presence on line or our competition will surely pass us by. We need this to accommodate potential customers that do search the internet. I am certain many use the internet to do their research and we do track incoming calls for service by asking how the customer heard about us. Very few state that they found us on the internet. When they do find us there we ask how you found us.

I would tend to agree with the statement that researching a company with the internet is happening more frequently yet referrals still come from neighbors, friends and family. How I know this to be true is from our website. We have coupons on the website for specific plumbing jobs that give substantial amounts toward the specific tasks. There is also a coupon that gives the customer a free service charge. If more of our new customers were using the internet we would definitely know about the internet.

I live in Sarasota and will use Sarasota as an example. When someone uses the internet to search for specific plumbing needs they do not search for Sarasota area plumbers. The majority of customers seem to search specific domain names such as Sarasotawaterheaters.com or waterheaterssarasota.com. Many companies are discovering this and purchasing domain names and redirecting traffic to their web sites. This is providing niches for the companies and increasing the demand for that niche in their community. Funny how we are discovered this course of action.

I found this information by visiting plumbing forums and sites and talking with various plumbing company managers and owners. I visit these sites to discover trends that are developing across the planet.This does not mean all people search this way or this is the only way it is done. I am sharing information I have discovered right or wrong. - by rich34232
Interesting comment Jeff. I have said for many years that our company needs to have a presence on line or our competition will surely pass us by. We need this to accommodate potential customers that do search the internet. I am certain many use the internet to do their research and we do track incoming calls for service by asking how the customer heard about us. Very few state that they found us on the internet. When they do find us there we ask how you found us.
Does you company's website rank well (1) for the keywords/phrases your prospective buyer's are using to find what they are looking for that relates to your offering (2) in the search engine(s) they are using?

I would tend to agree with the statement that researching a company with the internet is happening more frequently yet referrals still come from neighbors, friends and family.
The two are not mutually exclusive. One is simply more dominant in specific contexts.

I live in Sarasota and will use Sarasota as an example. When someone uses the internet to search for specific plumbing needs they do not search for Sarasota area plumbers. The majority of customers seem to search specific domain names such as Sarasotawaterheaters.com or waterheaterssarasota.com.
My recommendation for anyone wanting to know what keywords/phrases potential customers utilize to find what they want in search engines is to take advantage of the the many keyword research tools readily available. Quality research tends to generate quality data. - by Jeff Blackwell
Jeff I do not disagree with anything you have stated. It does not dispute what I have stated either. I can import SEO words today and be on the top page for roughly a week if that long. I wish I had the time to stay on top of that task and in time I may. It is a never ending job to stay on top of the internet board. We are getting better at it however it is a long road to hoe.

I Goggled plumber today and pulled a plumber from California and I live in Florida. The internet is a funny thing. Google, Yahoo, and Bing have made it that you must be pretty specific in a search. Such as if you want to search for water reports for a reverse osmosis system you must type reverse osmosis water reports otherwise you are sent to places to buy RO system. This is the largest complaint I receive from my customers and a cause for a lot of frustration for them trying to research specific products and results. Buyers are smart and they understand a company website has an agenda and that is to entice more people to use them. It is a tool that some use very well and others have great difficulty.

I like the internet it is my friend and I use it daily with my phone and with my customers. I understand how to get information from it and am able to help my customers due to it immediately. I can become an expert with a product in a matter of minutes and I need more time I can place a call to understand more about a product.

Do you believe that most people know and understand how to gain information from the internet? I believe people can go to a business website and to a degree understand how a company operates and make a decision whether to use or give that company a try. - by rich34232
Do you believe that most people know and understand how to gain information from the internet?
Most people? Unless by "know and understand how to gain information from the Internet" you mean open up a web browser and type in what you want my answer would be "No". - by Jeff Blackwell
Most people? Unless by "know and understand how to gain information from the Internet" you mean open up a web browser and type in what you want my answer would be "No".
I find that interesting. Think about it. It boils down to communication skills, doesn't it? That part of those skills we call word choice. I've watched people fumble with producing words that would give them an effective search for what they want to know. - by Gary A Boye
I find that interesting. Think about it. It boils down to communication skills, doesn't it? That part of those skills we call word choice. I've watched people fumble with producing words that would give them an effective search for what they want to know.
Hi Gary. Yes, word choice is one of the key factors. I too have watched people fumble with online search. An understanding of the technology (Search, Browsers, etc.) in use is another. - by Jeff Blackwell
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