Save Buyers From Information Overload With This Approach

BY Jessica Helinski
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There is so much information available to everyone, everywhere. Naturally, B2B customers are doing their own research. SalesFuel found nearly 30% of buyers conduct online research prior to even contacting a vendor. But, simply put, many can’t make sense of it, often experiencing information overload. This is where you, the salesperson, can really bring value.

Today’s buyers and information overload

A study by Gartner found that researching online isn’t an issue for today’s prospects. B2B buyers are satisfied with the information they find online during the initial part of their buying process. The problem arises once they’ve gathered the insights. According to Gartner’s The Sense Making Seller,  55% of buyers surveyed say they “encounter an overwhelming amount of trustworthy information during the purchase process…When customers are overwhelmed, they are far more likely to make a smaller purchase — or do nothing at all — to play it safe.”

In addition to being overwhelmed, buyers aren’t quite sure how to interpret and implement what they find. While appearing trustworthy, they say some research seems contradictory and confusing, which in turns hinders the buyer’s confidence. Information overload can actually stop a sale before buyers even reach out to a vendor.

Information overload kills buyer confidence

It’s clear that access to information isn’t an issue; salespeople are no longer a buyer’s first go-​to source in their purchase journey. But reps can still provide immense value by helping buyers make sense of the information they find. “In many ways, today’s high-​quality deals are less about what customers know, and far more about how they feel about what they know,” says Distinguished V.P. Advisory Brent Adamson. He adds that, “…when sellers are able to increase customer confidence in the information, they are 1.6x more likely to make a high-​quality purchase with little regret.”

 How salespeople can help

Gartner reports that B2B customers feel confident when sellers help them to:

  • Determine the right questions to ask themselves and their suppliers.
  • Identify which information matters most in their purchase decision.
  • Identify consistent patterns or themes in the information, despite origin, they encounter during the purchase.”

They identified three distinct seller approaches that can help reps aid buyers experiencing information overload: Giving, telling and making sense. Briefly, each approach entails the following:

  • Giving – Offering more information to the buyer to create a more comprehensive picture.
  • Telling – Telling the prospect your own perspective on the information they’ve found, based on your own experience
  • Making sense – Helping the buyer “make sense” of what they’ve found by guiding them to the evidence they need to make an informed decision. This effort focuses on simplicity rather than comprehensive detail.

Is one approach better?

Evidence shows that the “Sense Making” approach when assisting buyers with information overload is the most successful. Gartner reports that 61.4% of buyers were not skeptical of sellers using this approach. Additionally, this approach closed more high-​quality deals. Out of 10 completed deals, eight were high-​quality when the sales rep used a Sense Making approach.

A Sense Making approach is more effective because sellers acknowledge the difficulty customers experience in making a purchase and provide a way forward,” explains Alice Walmesley, director, Advisory. “They help customers prioritize perspectives, qualify trade-​offs and contextualize — often reconcile — competing perspectives. In this role, they become a much-​needed guide. Sellers who practice Sense Making don’t tell customers what to believe, but rather help them to develop a mental framework to make their own decisions.”

Be the valued guide by “Making Sense”

Gartner reports that only about 24% of sellers say they use this approach when interacting with buyers. You can help prospects make sense of their research and stand out from other vendors by making this effort. Gartner goes on to explain key attributes that sellers need to understand about this approach, as well as how to put it into practice.

In a world where buyers are doing their own research, demonstrate your value, and stand out, by helping them make sense of what they’ve found. You’ll boost their confidence, position yourself as a trustworthy advisor, and drive your chances of making a high-​quality sale.

Photo by Thirdman