The Internet changed the way we shop. Search Engines now empower buyers to do their own research and they often know more than your store employees about the product that they want to buy. The role of Sales changed as the buying process changed. 

This is best explained with a simple example first and then you can frame it with examples from your current business.

The following “story” explains the principle:

I am a long distance runner that competes in half marathons and marathons. I’ve been doing this for a while and quite satisfied with my performance to date. I am in a “calm” state, I don’t want to BUY anything at this point.

I suddenly find that I am experiencing pain in my knees and lower legs when I run very long distances. And it seems to persist. Something “changed” or “shattered my status quo” I now think I have a problem.

So I “Google” the symptoms and I find quite a few blogs, websites, wikis and articles that describe these symptoms and I start to see a pattern. Most of them point to the fact that my running shoes may be the culprit. They have supporting statistics and evidence and I am now pretty confident that I have “framed my problem”. 

My current running shoes don’t fit my style of running and the anatomy of my foot (Damn sales person who didn’t know this when they sold me the shoes, I won’t trust sales people anymore and just do my own buying research). 

Now I “look for solutions” that will solve my specific problem. I find a few different brands (and price ranges) of shoes and I refer back to those initial sites that helped me frame the problem to see if they have the shoes that will solve my problem. I trust them more as they understood my initial problem better.

I now “look for feedback” from other runners (peers) to see if they had positive experiences with the vendors and products. I read some reviews and look at testimonials.

I find that I need a special pair of running shoes that cost much more than I initially spent on my previous pair. I am comfortable with the model, style and brand (even though I spend more) and I now “look for a provider”. I am now ready to buy

Will Your Website Answer These:

  • Can I look for the symptoms of my problem and find your online channel?   
  • Is the content optimized for Search Engines but still high quality to address the needs of your prospects?  
  • Did you have content on your online channels to help customers frame their problem? 
  • Did I find customer testimonials and reviews of your product? 
  • Could I talk to peers about their experiences? 

Would I find your business in my buying cycle?

This example highlights how the role of the sales person changed. Before the Internet and search engines, their role was to provide product information and discuss features. You can now find most of that online.

The New Decision Making Process

New Influences in the Buying Process

  • 48% Utilized a wider variety of sources to acquire information at various stages of the buying process than during previous purchases
  • 48% Took more time to research their buying options
  • 36% Did more detailed analysis of costs/ROI on their own
  • 30% Had more internal team members provide input
  • 27% Relied more on live customer feedback & recommendations


  • 78% started with informal info gathering
  • 59% engaged with peers who addressed the challenge
  • 48% followed industry conversations on topic
  • 44% conducted anonymous research of a select group of vendors
  • 41% followed discussions to learn more about topic
  • 37% posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions/feedback
  • More than 20% connected directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels

See how we use this market research to create an Online Lead Generation System to get those prospects in front of your sales people