How Salespeople Can Compete With Amazon

Salespeople are competing with one of the most customer-centric organizations that has ever existed — Amazon. Paul Reilly explains the advantages you have over the seemingly unstoppable e-tailer giant.

In a recent seminar, a salesperson asked, “Is Amazon going to replace salespeople?”

Amazon is a formidable competitor. They disrupt every market they touch. Amazon successfully enters different markets because they are customer-centric. They focus on the customer’s needs, not the competition. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, famously said, “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

Salespeople are competing with one of the most customer-centric organizations that has ever existed. Amazon has made it ridiculously easy to buy. They offer one-click ordering, cheap prices, and free next-day delivery. Amazon makes it easy to buy online.

Although buying online is easy, there will always be a need for face-to-face interaction. Even Amazon understands the importance of a face-to-face customer experience. Why else would they spend over $13 billion on Whole Foods? People still buy from people, and they want a more comprehensive customer experience.

If you’re competing with Amazon, focus on the unique aspects of your solution. Don’t just sell products, sell your end-to-end customer experience. In Value-Added Selling, the end-to-end customer experience is called the Critical Buying Path. The Critical Buying Path is the sequence of steps buyers go through from the moment a need exists through complete satisfaction. The transaction is a small part of the overall experience, but too many buyers view the transaction as the focal point.

If the buyer only focuses on the transaction, Amazon is going to win. When presenting your solution, offer pre-sale value that Amazon can’t. Detail the value-added support you provide customers in the pre-sale phase. Here are some sample value-added extras you can offer the buyer before the sale: 

  • Product demonstrations
  • Technical presentations
  • Specification writings
  • Engineered solutions
  • Value engineering 

Buyers want more than just a cheap product. Our research shows there are ten things more important to a buyer than acquisition price. Buyers have a different set of needs and expectations in the post-sale usage phase. Present the total value of your solution by emphasizing your post-sale support. Here are some services you can provide that Amazon can’t offer: 

  • Face-to-face technical support
  • Value-added training
  • Additional product warranty/guarantees
  • Local customer support
  • Dedicated sales representative 

Back to the original question, “Will Amazon replace salespeople?” They will, if you let them. You can’t out-Amazon Amazon. Amazon has a significant advantage in the transactional phase of the sale. Keep in mind, the transaction is only one small part of the end-to-end experience. Emphasize the value you deliver before and after the sale. Your support before and after the sale has to be more compelling than the convenience of one-click ordering.

Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training, a St. Louis-based, privately-owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers and service professionals. Call Paul at 636-778-0175 or email [email protected].

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