Selling more science than skill

by | Aug 1, 2018 | Opinion

These days, being good at selling is not just about having a quality product, strong brand, sizeable marketing budget and loads of charm. It’s about having a global reference, understanding a new generation of consumers and keeping up with technology. In the demanding world of selling, we need to be both informed and flexible.

Today’s generation shops online.

Research shows 67% millennials and 56% Gen Xers prefer to shop online. Influenced by online images, product reviews and social media recommendations, they shop using apps rather than going to traditional stores.

According to app analytics company AppAnnie, 2017 saw almost four billion connected mobile devices generating 178 billion annual app downloads and more than $81 billion in app store consumer spend worldwide. Forecasts are that consumer spend in app stores will reach $156.5 billion by 2022. Smartphone users have an average of 80 apps on their phones and use about 40 of them in a given month. There’s rapid growth in app store and in-app ad spend and m-commerce.

Just got used to the idea of e-commerce? Now get ready for m-commerce!

It’s reported the e-commerce user base will be close on 6.3 billion people in 2021. This, combined with the predicted rise in time spent on apps (which will grow from 1.6 trillion hours currently to 3.5 trillion hours by 2021), will be the main contributing factor to economic growth. In fact growth projections estimate that by 2022 the average annual consumer spend per device will reach $25.65 (R343).

Driven by relentless innovation and the transition to mobile commerce or m-commerce, e-spend is on a continuous up, with consumer mobile spend expected to grow by 18% year on year.

So how does this affect the way we sell?

Traditional and new sales models find common ground in the experience. While the product is still important, to actually sell it the focus has shifted to consumer needs and experience.

In the wine industry the product is important. It’s what we make and what we sell. It’s about the quality of this product that we passionately converse. However how we sell the wine needs to be about more than expert ratings, terroir and flavour profiles. There has to be an experience focus. Our communication should not only be about what we have to offer, it should be about the needs of our audience and how experiencing our product fits their needs and requirements.

Despite e-commerce becoming the sales platform of choice, the need for an actual experience of the brand is still there. Adidas opened their Originals flagship stores in New York, London and now in Cape Town. Here you can experience the brand, you’re encouraged to spend time in the shop and if you want to buy anything, you do so from an online platform. Combining the physical shop and experience with the technology of e-commerce and convenience seems like an ideal solution. Perhaps we can find a way to just as successfully combine emotion and product when it comes to selling wine.

Global demographics have also changed. When it comes to purchasing behaviour young online shoppers in cities such as London, New York and Shanghai have more in common with one another than with people from rural areas in their own countries. Brands need to look at markets through this new demographic lens.

Brands are shifting to the premium – even luxury – end of the market to avoid category commoditisation and build margin. Commoditisation is driving brands to premiumisation.

And while the younger generation is constantly on the lookout for the newest, fastest apps, they have become much more discerning and are mainly interested in authentic experiences. A quest for authenticity tries to balance the desire for immediate gratification, connectivity, speed and convenience.

There’s a lot to consider when trying to reach new-generation consumers and it seems that selling today is not for the faint-hearted. What is obvious is that selling has become more science than skill.

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