We are often told that information is power; that it is liberating and life changing. But when it comes to sales, can there be such a thing as TMI?
The slang expression for “too much information” suggests someone has shared more than we’re comfortable hearing. Yet, in sales we are conditioned to believe the more a salesperson can tell a customer, the greater the likelihood of a transaction. To that end, companies spend a lot of time teaching sales people product knowledge so they can then convey it to customers. A survey conducted by American Express revealed that 85 percent of retailers considered providing detailed product descriptions a key factor in attracting customers, based on the long-held belief that buyers make a purchase after considering all relevant data. True? Let’s take a closer look….
Some recent studies have shown that a sales pitch laden with too many facts can make the customer believe the salesperson is overselling the product, or doesn’t really know what he or she is talking about. TMI! It seems there are cases where reciting product details can get in the way of the sales professional communicating with the customer and developing a personal bond.
These days, potential buyers can initiate the sales process long before walking into a retailer, mining the internet for extensive product information provided by manufacturers, and checking out the retailer’s web site. By some estimates, customers can be as much as 90 percent into the sales process when they show up, already familiar with performance features, warranties and instructions for use. This means salespeople, more than ever, must find new ways of communicating with customers and creating a connection. Far from just providing product specifications, a business needs to be a problem-solving partner for a potential buyer.
A customer can also show up with lots of information about the business itself, based in part on reviews posted on social media. This “online word of mouth” allows customers to exchange knowledge and views about the products and services – as well as in-store experiences – with people well beyond the usual personal communication networks of family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Despite all their savvy information research, marketing experts say customers seem to be unaware of the effect “TMI” has on their behavior. Despite the fact that they often insist on knowing as much as possible about a product before making a significant purchase, customers seem to be turned off by an over reliance on product information and an under reliance on relationship building. This means that businesses must design its systems and processes to meet each individual customer’s needs, not just provide product specs. The entire business – not just sales – must be focused on making a commitment to the customer and solving a problem while building a relationship.