Today the customer is in control.
Just this week, Snapchat, United Airlines, and Toys R Us were discounted, disrupted or defeated because customers took control.
No longer is the seller in control of the sales process, and hard sales are losing effectiveness daily.
Gone is the day when the seller could show up, make a presentation, offer some price reducing inducements, close the deal, and move on.
Next time you are in a retail store see how people are using their smartphones. Some are taking notes to generate ideas, some are snapping photos to develop a wish, and some are even purchasing the same product from an online competitor.
For those selling services or subject matter expertise, before buyers even buy your offering, they go to your website, view your Instagram account, check out your LinkedIn page, read your blog posts, and of course do research to see what others in the same space charge.
So what is a seller to do?
A seller must think thought leadership.
With so many goods and services available from providers around the planet, this abundance of choice can be a thought leader's differentiator.
Buyers want to be led.
They want to be informed, guided, and managed in a respected manner that makes them feel like they are part of a special cause bigger than themselves.
Enlightened organizations that embrace thought leadership from the start can develop lasting relationships with customers. Such a relationship which is shaped by forwarding thinking leadership will move a buyer to new thinking, a unique viewpoint, and a new paradigm.
Thought leadership is a choice and is not off is some inaccessible Ivory Tower.
We all have the power to be thought leaders.
Thought leadership demands merely that we are committed to working with customers and clients in a respectable manner by creating value in every step of the buyer's journey and thinking long-term.
But many of organizations continue to struggle with how to do that and connect in a meaningful manner.
As a first step, organizations must abandon aggressive sales behaviors that buyers are resisting and employing behaviors shaped by thought leadership management.
Working with boardrooms and C-Suite executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, I have seen first-hand leaders who do create compelling communications, focused content, and winning commerce are thriving and making a difference.
To harness the power of thought leadership to foster sales in this new environment, employ strategic thinking and thought leader tactics.
Use a strategy that thinks education, experience, entertainment, and easy.
Use tactics that reinforce, reward, recognize, refresh, and supported by research.
Let me know how you are getting on or have examples of organizations and individuals using thought leadership to generate revenue and make a difference.
Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.