Today’s buyers are using all the helpful content we create against us. They are self-educating themselves via Google Searches and digital content consumptions. This is creating an empowered buyer, or so they think. They believe they’ve done their homework. They believe they know what they need to know to have a balanced discussion with a salesperson – a discussion where the buyer can’t be “sold” by the salesperson. But the self-educated buyer has one huge blind spot.
Put simply – the self-educated buyer doesn’t know what they don’t know. Because they are not immersed in the product or service they are buying, they do not always know every question to ask or every scenario to consider. This creates a unique opportunity for the salesperson to leverage this knowledge deficiency to create doubt in the mind of the self-educated buyer.
Enter Aikido Selling. This approach leverages that weakness and doubt to rebalance the selling process in favor of the seller. In effect, Aikido Selling is the two, in an effective one-two content marketing punch combination.
The Aikido approach involves three simple, but important steps.
Step 1: Buyer Triage
Once a sales prospect has identified themselves, use their preferred medium (social media, email, phone, video conferencing or face-to-face) to understand what they know and how or where they obtained that knowledge.
Often prospects find mistaken or outdated information during their research. It’s important that you discover this and take the opportunity to correct mistaken information before you begin sharing new information.
Step 2: Find Their Blind Spot
Once you’ve established what the buyer does and does not know and corrected misinformation, locate the missing pieces of the information puzzle. What question didn’t they know to ask? What relevant product feature are they still unaware of? What red flag about a competitor’s product did they not discover? You get the idea. Find those items where you can drive the conversation with new information – information the prospect doesn’t currently possess but will care about.
Step 3: Complete Their Education
One big mistake salespeople often make is that they are so desperate to show the buyer that they (salesperson) are the true bastion of knowledge that they will attack the blind spot in a manner that appears argumentative. This is the antithesis of Aikido Selling because it aligns the salesperson and the buyer as opposing forces instead of complimentary forces moving toward a common goal.
Instead, approach this step as a caring professor seeking to enlighten the student. Don’t sell. Teach. The goal of the Aikido sale is to let the buyer sell themselves by simply helping them complete their research in a manner that favors your product or service. They want to sell themselves. That’s why they self-educated in the first place. Understand that psychological underpinning and then leverage it to close the deal and win the sale.
Hopefully this article has set you on the right track. But if you’d like to learn more about marketing and selling to self-educated buyers, feel free to go grab a copy of my new book, The Invisible Sale, where I dive much deeper into the topic and discuss actionable strategies to help your company adapt.
Tom Martin, the author of The Invisible Sale, has spent over 20 years helping clients improve their understanding of marketing trends and challenges. From public speaking engagements to private half-day and full-day sessions, Tom has worked with marketers, non-profits and students to educate and entertain them. He has delivered social media, digital marketing and social selling keynotes and breakout sessions for many groups including the National Marketing Institute Conference, the University of New Orleans, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Society of America, Southeastern Louisiana University, American Marketing Association, and many others.