Chart 1: The impact of Socioeconomic Events and Technology Development
As seen in Chart 1, The Digital Buyer is very different than the 20th Century Buyer about how they will gather information, weigh priorities and make decisions.
Let the buyers’ needs lead the dance
I grew up in a rural environment and we went to community dances just about every weekend. We learned how to two-step to country music, Cotton-eyed Joe, Polka and the waltz. The names of the dances are of little importance, but they were instructive about community and people. We understood as children that dancing with a partner where you had to collaborate in real time was just a different exprience. A waltz can get pretty messy if you can’t collaborate on the fly. Sometimes in our rural community, we would get visitors from out of town who didn’t know the different dances. In dancing with another person it was polite to gently lead if a dance is new to one of the partners. If the partners dance often together, they learn to anticipate to the point that no one is leading. You are now both in the flow and people watch you with admiration. I have seen couples who have been married for years dancing together and becoming such a blur on the floor you would think it were one person. When you can dance at that level, you would just as soon not dance with anyone else.
Let’s suppose in working with the buyer, the provider starts leading the dance by insisting on what their selling needs are. It is at this point that both parties will start stepping on each other’s feet because the Digital Buyer’s expectation is that they should naturally lead in a world of too many choices. The smart thing to do is to let the buyer lead until you can anticipate most of their unique moves over a period of time. Digital Buyers will lead in a world where the balance of control has shifted in their direction. Another way of saying it is that they are building their own on-line communities (which they are), they know the community-accepted steps and want their partner to let them lead. Let them. By forcing your needs on them faster than they are ready you can bet they will be looking for a new partner. The buyer will be sending the provider signals as to what is the next best move and when there is enough trust. Learn to listen and anticipate the answers they need at each step in what is clearly a buyer’s market.
A More Educated Buyer
This isn’t your father’s corporate world and it certainly isn’t your grandfather’s rural farming world. By the way, it’s no secret that many of today’s farmers have much more than a high school diploma and will lean on technology heavily to run sophisticated 21st century farms. In the U.S., it’s expected that our children should get a better formal education, be digitally competent and to be lifelong learners. In many of the positions that a provider will be selling into, the buyers are highly educated and are committed to mastering a...