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Your customers are moving. Maybe not physically but their mental focus is, and has been changing for a while. As a sales person you have to adapt or die to the changing environment ahead of you. Your customers hardly have time to talk on the phone, check email and meet with vendors. Sure they make time but only for the ‘special’ vendors that they have strong relationships with or the vendors they have already vetted and basically made a decision to move forward with.

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photo: WSJ

It shouldn’t be news to you that your customers are starting their search for products and services online. In a post by Robert Lesser called Selling to the Digital Buyer, he gives some very pointed realities that B2B sales people are facing when it comes to the new Customer 2.0. Most importantly is that These buyers expect a fast response from an informed sales rep and will not wait for the time it takes to schedule an in-person meeting.

The buyer is time-starved – Buyers face inordinate demands on their time.  Meeting face-to-face is becoming less frequent due to jam-packed schedules.   The Corporate Leadership Councial found that the “average ‘job footprint’ (what a worker is expected to do) has increased by a third since the beginning of the recession” (see the Economist for more details).   In  the new book “Snap Selling“, Jill Konrath diagnoses the buyer as suffering from:    Frazzled Customer Syndrome, a debilitating condition brought on by excessive workloads, 24/7 availability, information overload, lack of sleep, and job-related stress.

In an article by the WSJ they made the bold statement that email is dead. I don’t know if it’s dead but it’s no longer the preferred method of communication with busy business people. I have a faint memory of what it was like to mail a physical letter or wait for one to arrive from the postman, email changed all of that and the next evolution of communication is already happening. Between Twitter, Facebook, SMS and every other form of immediate communication, email is still around but more of an after thought when one of the other methods are unavailable or not producing. If I can send a question over a text message, I’ll do that 100% of the time instead of email.

Email will probably never die. Some of us have multiple email accounts and we need them to sign up for all of the social networking sites we belong to. The shift is that customers are too busy to check and read emails from people they have never had prior contact with.

Nielsen’s June 2010 NetView survey had found that American consumers now spent nearly a quarter of their total online time on social networks and blogs (a 43 percent increase over 2009), while spending less than ten percent on email (a 28 percent drop).

As a sales person or business owner, are you adapting to your customers? Being “Old School” is not a profitable path.

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