You know it’s a serious research paper if it’s got Harvard written on it. Well, this one is in favour of travel agents, and its findings show B2B salespeople could learn a trick or two from the trade.
The paper reports that according to US travel and leisure marketing firm MMGY, the use of American-based travel agents increased by 50% from 2014 to 2015.
The HBR claims the surge is due to consumers being “overwhelmed by information” and “inundated with choices” to be able to plan their own holidays, and thus are returning to their local travel agent to take on the work of deciphering where’s best to go.
The paper says a similar sequence has happened with B2B buying. “Just as with travel, a wealth of easily available information has made it possible for buyers to do much of the work themselves,” it states.
But the research group adds that just because customers can research their purchase, it doesn’t necessarily mean the process is going smoothly.
The HBR says these days “customers are taking longer than ever to make purchases, and abandoning them more often. At the same time, second guessing and post-purchase regret are on the rise, while loyalty is falling”.
“As purchasing becomes ever more complex, it’s becoming harder and harder — and buyers are now looking for sellers who can make the process easy once again.”
The HBR research urges salespeople to become their customer’s “travel agent,” to ease customers’ burdens by guiding them through difficult decisions and choices, and improving win rates for high-end solution sales by as much as 60%.