How Mobile Has Changed The Way We Sell and How Customers Buy
by Orrin Broberg, on Dec, 17, 2013
There was a time when clients possessed a great deal less information when seeking vendors. At one time, shops were sought based on their inclusion in a paper directory or their presence in a consumer's mind; based on adequate signage and location on major municipal transit routes. Clients would schedule an appointment for a product pitch or receive a cold call for a product demonstration. Appraisal of said offerings was spread by word-of-mouth and the recommendation of a colleague could make-or-break the effectiveness and frequency of sale efforts. For this reason, large companies with an established national reputation and sufficient presence in consumer minds would see activity and revenue in droves.
The portrait described would be virtually unrecognizable to today's customer. A search query makes available most, if not all, vendors in possession of a particular item or family of items in any designated geographic area or internationally. Clients can look at company websites and form perceptions based on design, helpfulness, and communicability. Reviews, usually from complete strangers, help guide purchases and attest, with more perceived credibility than advertising copy, to the quality and desirability of a product or service. In this world, mobile-enabled clients can send feedback rapidly, do research on the go, and lend credence to the quality of a business, all without second thought.
The Customer's Boon
In this way, mobile has completely changed the way customers purchase products. Prices are cross-checked against multiple vendors simultaneously. Reviews are consulted before sales pitches even occur. Smaller vendors have the chance to make an impression and generate revenue by having a respectable site and sterling reputation. Poor performance and quality are reprimanded as quickly as solid efforts are praised. The modern business owner is educated, informed, and ready to punish vendors willing to deliver a second-rate product.
Because of this, our relationship as vendors must change in step. With customer expectations through the roof, quality of both service and product must be top-notch to match. With rapid response to positive or negative efforts, businesses stand to lose or gain drastically based on performance. Failing to provide comprehensive product information and customer reviews leads to mistrust and decreased sales conversion.
The Business' Tool
Businesses have been forced to adapt their operating models to accommodate these changes. Customer service has expanded from a dedicated hotline to responses to review comments and social media questions on myriad channels. Companies have endeavored to raise their internal expectations to deliver better products and customer experiences. Web design has worked to better understand customer needs and design sites with these findings in mind.
The tools we use have changed dramatically. Members of sales teams can dynamically and intelligently collaborate with one another in order to maximize efficiency. Sales pitches can be crafted with the individual business in mind instead of throwing best-chance presentations at potential clients. Follow-up can happen in an instant with mobile communications capabilities, keeping the pitch and product omnipresent in a customer's mind. Finally, analytics, accessible on mobile, can be used to guide efforts and travel. This foundation of tools, data, and accessibility has made sales more personal and more effective in the process.
And ultimately, this is how mobile has changed the sales process: clients demand more personalized service and businesses can deliver it. Through a duality of solutions, products and services are made more available to clients with available channels for feedback, which are read, analyzed, and converted into action by savvy salespeople. Mobile has made the conversation more intimate and provided the means necessary to fulfill the expectations and goals of both parties.
And while little is understood about the future of mobile commercial technology, it is unlikely that this continued personalization will slow. Better feedback mechanisms, tracking technology, and communication will continue to heighten customer standards while opening opportunities for criticism and, thusly, improvement by businesses. The age of information has profound implications for the democratization of commerce, and the evidence of this is in our pockets every day.