What does the prospect know?

Here’s an interesting little tid-bit on corporate sales in the HBR blog.

For most companies, the biggest competitor today isn’t the competition, it’s customers’ ability to learn on their own.

Probably applies to a lot more areas, too. The question is always understanding where we are in the relationship, and what we have to offer.

I would think this also has something to do with how faith institutions relate — for those who come with a Gospel-flavored message it is easy to think in terms of the old “I have the solution to your needs model.” It goes all the way back to relational evangelism. The HBR post suggests that the new digital dynamic is that the customer / prospect already knows a lot. It’s not like the other side hasn’t heard, or even hasn’t done a bit of due diligence.

The digital world lets us self-define our needs faster. That doesn’t mean that we are necessarily right, but it does mean that in interactions, the benefit that the “seller” brings is less information than other ways of thinking. How the other person or company decides is at least as important as the what of the “purchase.”

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