Providing prospects with high-quality information and “thought leadership” is no longer a differentiator for sales organizations — to succeed today, according to Gartner, Inc. Sales leaders must help customers make sense of the massive amount of quality information they encounter as part of a purchase and proactively guide them through the buying journey.
A Gartner survey of more than 1,000 B2B customers shows 89% of respondents found the information they encountered during their purchase process to be of high quality. However, this abundance of quality information is hindering customer decisions, as they report not only being overwhelmed by the amount of trustworthy information, but often contradictory information among suppliers as well.
“In today’s world, which is overloaded with information, customers are struggling mightily to make informed decisions about who and what to believe,” said Brent Adamson, distinguished vice president in the Gartner Sales practice. “Customers are reaching an information saturation point, where each new idea reduces the value derived from information and turns sound decision making into ‘best guesses’ or ‘gut feeling’ choices.”
In fact, when customers experience too much high-quality information, information that is contradictory and creates difficulty in making informed purchase decisions, they are 153% more likely to settle for a course of action smaller and less disruptive than originally planned.
Gartner research found two customer sentiments that positively influence the likelihood of a high-quality, low-regret deal: high confidence in the information they encountered and low skepticism of the seller. To that end, customers perceive sellers adopting one of three unique approaches to engaging them with information — only one of which actually increases confidence and reduces skepticism:
- Giving: The giving approach follows the maxim that more is better. Giving follows from the belief that more information, especially at the customer’s request, will move a deal forward.
- Telling: Telling is the preferred approach of individual experts on the sales force who rely on personal experience, knowledge and authority to address customers’ needs. From a manager’s perspective, a telling approach is the most autonomous.
- Sense Making: “Sense making” helps customers evaluate information so they are able to prioritize various sources of information, quantify trade-offs and reconcile conflicting information. Sense making simplifies customers’ learning by helping them evaluate and prioritize relevant information, all while helping customers arrive at their own understanding.
Gartner research shows that 80% of the sellers who used the sense-making approach closed high-quality, low-regret deals.