More than 6.8 million Australians shop online each year but the wealth of information available online means consumers might not be getting the best deal possible, according to Tom Snyder, author of Escaping the Price-Driven Sale and one of the Top 100 Most Influential Sales Leaders in the World.
Search on Google for "health care" when looking at getting the best price on health insurance and you will receive one-hundred-and-two-million results in just 0.33 seconds. There are even websites that will compare the prices of dozens of different products in the same category for you, removing any work for the consumer at all.
However, according to Snyder, the rise of the internet and extremely advanced search engines has meant that consumers have not been able to gain deeper insights into the industry or products they are comparing meaning that although the price may be right, the product is not.
"The internet and the wealth of information available on it means many consumers are taking the sales process into their own hands which, if you are simply looking at price, is not necessarily a bad thing. However, what if a customer, for example, doesn't even know what product or service they need to solve their problem? How can you search for the appropriate combined washer/dryer if you did not know such a thing existed?
"In the US and Europe, the advent of the internet has caused the loss of 2.5 million sales jobs; some rightfully so, others unnecessarily. Consumers today assume they have all the knowledge they need because of the internet, however what they cannot have is the working knowledge of a product, or a group of products a live, human sales professional should have. Very few customers are going to try seven different mobile phones, for example, or have heard the customer feed-back that a salesperson would have heard, when shopping online for the latest mobile.
"Salespeople generally have a bad reputation. They're seen as self-serving, unethical and only out to make a quick buck. Of course sometimes this is true. However in this new internet-age, salespeople can no longer act this way if they want to keep their job. Salespeople actually need to be working for the customer, rather than for the company, if they want to secure a sale. Customers should be using the salesperson as a tool or resource to help them find not only the best price, but the best product to suit the problem they need solved."
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Tom Snyder is Huthwaite's President and CEO. Tom advises thousands of sales decision-makers each year on topics such as consultative selling in major sales organisations, creating client value, and innovative ways to strengthen competitive differentiation.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2006-07, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/log?openagent&81460_2006-07.pdf&8146.0&Publication&DFEED0F4BFFE51E0CA2573B6001F777B&0&2006-07&20.12.2007&Latest