Seller Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Studies have confirmed the obvious: B2B sellers get involved later in buying cycles than ever before. Despite the changing landscape of buying behavior, most vendors and their salespeople cling to old habits that were merely annoying 10 years ago but have become offensive today. The chasm between the way buyers want to be treated and selling behavior is widening. Buying has quickly evolved while selling has moved at a glacial pace.

It's high time that sales teams revise how they approach buyers. Poor buying experiences will result if sellers continue to use traditional selling approaches.

Buyers inherently mistrust salespeople. Who hasn't had unpleasant experiences with sellers who selectively parsed product information in a self-serving fashion? Sellers have abused buyers with omissions, exaggerations, or outright lies. It comes as no surprise that buyers want to reduce or eliminate a seller's ability to influence their requirements.

Over the last decade, buyers have become empowered. In the interest of generating higher revenue, since the late 1990s, vendors have posted massive volumes of information to the Internet. In doing so, they inadvertently ceded a significant amount of control. In the past, when new offerings were announced, buyers wanting to learn about them had no choice but to tolerate contact with salespeople. Recently, DIY education has become a more attractive and commonly used alternative, and is the primary reason sellers get involved so much later in buying cycles.

Despite advances buyers have made by leveraging the Internet, a problem remained. Vendors controlled all the information that was posted. They were unlikely to post anything but superlatives about their offerings. Starting about a decade ago, social networking for business—most notably via LinkedIn—introduced much needed transparency to beleaguered buyers.

While Web sites could make claims of high quality, satisfied customers, reliability, ease of use, and more, buyers can now solicit firsthand impressions of companies and offerings from people they know and trust. Seller or vendor claims can be verified before being accepted, which means buyers are no longer susceptible to false or misleading claims vendors make. The old saying was that happy clients would tell four people while unhappy clients would tell 13. With the Internet and social networking, multiply those numbers by thousands.

Knowledge is power. Buyers have leveled the playing field when they have to interact with sellers. In today's environment, an increasing 

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