According to research from analyst house Gartner, Inc., over 85 percent of B2B customers are overwhelmed by the information they encounter while purchasing products and services. Sales leaders must help customers interpret this data, and help guide them through the purchasing process. With large swathes of text, images, statistics, and contradictory information among suppliers, customers can easily be confused or change their mind.
“In today’s world, which is overloaded with information, customers are struggling mightily to make informed decisions about who and what to believe,” says Brent Adamson, 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.”
To combat this, Gartner suggests a “sense making” sales approach. This helps customers evaluate information, allowing them to prioritize different categories, quantify trade-offs, and reconcile conflicting information. This helps customers arrive at their own understanding, instead of barraging them with information and assuming they’ll pick up what’s necessary to make an informed decision. According to Gartner, 80% of sellers who used the “sense making” approach closed high-quality, low-regret deals.
“Sense making” works so well due to three key information-related behaviors. First of all, it diagnoses customers’ information needs and provides a curated sources and tools to help them feel knowledgeable. Second, it reduces the complexity of their information environment. Third, it helps customers evaluate the quality of information and come to their own conclusion and understanding.
“At the end of the day, no matter what sales model a supplier employs, sense making must be at the foundation of your customer engagement strategy,” says Mr. Adamson. “Building confidence, reducing skepticism and resolving customer information challenges is what sets the best apart from the rest and results in more consistent high-quality, low-regret deals.”