Having more information doesn’t always make it easier to decide. Consider what’s happened with travel: With the explosion of internet travel sites in the 2000s, consumers took charge of their own travel, and travel agencies hemorrhaged business. Fast forward to today. According to the travel and leisure marketing firm MMGY, the use of travel agents increased by 50% from 2014 to 2015. Why? Because consumers, overwhelmed by information and inundated with choices, are again turning to travel agents to take the work out of travel planning.
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. By 2012, our research shows, nearly 60% of a typical B2B purchasing decision — researching solutions, ranking options, benchmarking pricing, and so on — was happening before the buyer even had a conversation with a supplier. But just because customers can research their purchase doesn’t necessarily mean the process is going smoothly.
As we describe in our recent HBR article, “The New Sales Imperative,” the torrents of information, expanding array of options, and growing size and diversity of purchasing groups are leading to a kind of purchase paralysis: 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.
Surely B2B purchasing hasn’t become that bad
Or has it? Try this simple exercise: Think about the last major purchase for which you sat on the buying committee. Perhaps it was a CRM solution, a consulting engagement, or new infrastructure. Now think about the stakeholder group on day one and how that group had changed by day 100. Think about the information you initially consulted and how that changed over time. Consider the revolving door of experts, colleagues, vendors, and their specialists. Think about the seemingly infinite set of options you needed to consider. Now ask yourself, if given the choice, would you do it that way again? Probably not.
As our research highlights, by becoming their customer’s “travel agent,” leading suppliers are spinning the challenges customers face into tremendous commercial advantage. They’re easing customers’ burdens by guiding them through difficult decisions and choices, and improving win rates for high-end solution sales by as much as 60%. Here are examples of how firms in three industries are simplifying the purchase process, and the specific tactics they are using:
An employee wellness benefits provider uses content marketing
Programs to support employee wellness and keep health care costs in check are a fairly new type of service. As such, many HR departments have never made this kind of purchase. As employers try to learn about the market, a mob of brokers, sales people, employee evangelists, and others typically flood the decision makers with information. As one benefits provider watched its customers become increasingly overwhelmed, it created marketing and sales content focused exclusively on best practices for purchasing wellness benefits.
The content is highly prescriptive, guiding customers through the stages of decision making, assessing their readiness to provide wellness benefits, and walking them through benchmarking exercises and even RFP builders. This guidance is vendor-neutral; it doesn’t promote the provider’s solution, but instead guides prospects through the purchase process, offering practical tips and warnings about pitfalls they may encounter. Subtly, within the content, the provider orients customers toward its distinct strengths without overtly pitching its solution. The campaign has resulted in dramatic increases in marketing leads and sales.
A marketing automation company creates bespoke presentations
When customer decision makers don’t agree, it can make purchasing difficult and slow or scuttle deals. Consider the common situation where a marketing head approaches the CIO seeking approval for a marketing automation purchase. If, as often happens, the CIO believes the company’s CRM solution already does adequate marketing automation, they may block the purchase. To address this problem, one supplier built a series of readymade decks for marketers to present to CIOs and other stakeholders in the purchasing decision. These decks contain benchmarking tools, customizable ROI calculators, and other content to showcase the potential impact of the firm’s solution, and, most powerful, they use the language and metrics of the stakeholder receiving it.
A health care software company uses networking events early in the sales process
Sellers often use references from previous customers to help get a new one through the final stages of a difficult purchase. Most sellers approach this in a similar way: They get their happiest customer on the phone with the prospective customer late in the sales process and ask them to sing the company’s praises. This software company takes another approach, asking customers who have recently completed a significant purchase that is similar to the one the prospect is evaluating to spend half a day alone with the prospective customer early in the purchase process.
The engagement is billed as a networking and best-practice sharing event, so both companies benefit. But the software company asks the customer reference to candidly discuss their purchase process. This includes openly discussing missteps they made, pitfalls to avoid, information to consult, RFP advice, and how to best engage with the software company. Because this is a true peer-to-peer networking opportunity, few prospects turn away the opportunity. As a result of the reference engagement approach, the software company has seen cycle times fall and deal win rates increase.
Adapted from: hbr.org
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One of the most exotic and popular countries in Southeast Asia is Thailand. It is on the list of many tourists’ favorite destinations. It is one of the most beautiful and diverse vacation destinations in the world. Thailand is a perfect place to enjoy fantastic local food, breathtaking scenery, getaway beaches, unspoiled mountains and modern, bustling cities. It has gorgeous landscapes and plenty of tourist spots – everything that helps you relax on your vacation. Thailand consistently has a large influx of tourists, along with the one of the most welcoming atmospheres. Here it is all about tourists.
It’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t want to visit this beautiful country and see The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park, the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Watt Saket in Bangkok and many other famous sites in this beautiful country.
Rent a motorbike
Locals are just crazy about motorbikes. This is one of the most comfortable and popular ways to get around the country. With a pleasant climate and decent roads (and lots of urban traffic), a motorbike is a perfect way to see the country, and it can save you a lot of time, especially in busy cities. Renting a motorbike is easy and accessible to any tourist. You can use it not only in urban areas, but also in getaway locations to get to more distant mountains, rivers, forests, beaches and jungles.
Discover the island of Koh Yao
Thailand is famous for its numerous paradise beaches and resorts. Tourists come here both for quiet holidays and action-packed adventures.
Some of Thailand’s islands are lined with beach bars and resorts, with busy nightlife and lots of fun daily entertainment. But what if you are searching for a quiet destination far from noisy tourists, loud music and crowded beaches? For a more peaceful spot, choose the islands of Koh Yao, a hidden paradise for any traveler who wants to get away from it all. Enjoy incredible limestone cliffs at Phang Nga Bay, just a 30 boat ride from Phuket. Colorful fishing villages are a must-see for relaxing after exploring the country.
Remember that the large number of tourists is the reason for a lot of investment and development in the country. That means that by visiting the more popular south of the country, you witness cosmopolitan cities, but you won’t get the full picture of Thailand. For true cultural and historical places, go north. It is well-known that the northeast region of Thailand is the least touristy area and is perfect for those who are searching for charm and a different perspective of the country. The locals hardly speak English, the cities are less urban and developed, the food isn’t watered-down for tourists and there is natural beauty everywhere. Issan is for those who enjoy life off the beaten track.
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Chart a course for new discoveries. From spa treatments and shore excursions to superb cuisine, Princess Cruises treats you to new experiences. With their Come Back New sale, enjoy free gratuities, up to $300 credit toward airfare in select cities and a free spa treatment when reserving a suite.
Putting on full-scale productions in the middle of the ocean requires seamless choreography between the marine operations and entertainment teams on board Royal Caribbean’s ships. Precision is key, and not just for the performers. Stage managers communicate with navigational officers and engineers who make the call to use the ship’s stabilizers or adjust course into the wind, in order to cancel out even the slightest motion. From backstage to the bridge, the entire team on board works together to ensure every performance is flawless for guests.
Adapted from: www.royalcaribbeanblog.com
A Tanzanian safari is an unforgettable experience that will give you amazing opportunities and great memories. It’s never boring, and offers fascinating wildlife viewing in the best safari style with all the creature comforts you could possibly want for a perfect and memorable trip. Zanzibar and Tanzania’s Indian Ocean islands are a true paradise on Earth and provide fascinating options for rest and tranquility after a grand safari adventure. Tanzania is one country where you can enjoy the beauty of the wildlife, incredible beaches and an adventurous safari all in the same place!
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The highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro is one of the main attractions in the country and one of the primary features that draws tourists to come here. It rises about 4,900 m (16,000 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent to the mountain’s top was made by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889. Situated within Kilimanjaro National Park, this mountain is one of the most famous in the world and a major climbing destination. It has also been the subject of scientific research due to its shrinking glaciers.
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You’ve got your hands full packing for your upcoming trip. But don’t forget to also pay attention to what to pack in your carry-on for the plane ride to and from your destination.
You know about keeping the basics with you: your passport, itinerary, the address where you’re staying, additional travel documents, medications, jewelry, electronics and other valuables. But you may not remember all those other important items that will help you be more comfortable, entertain you, and keep you healthier in flight. Here’s the ultimate carry-on packing list of the essentials that will help you have a better trip there and back.
It’s important to stay hydrated in flight. Water helps combat the cabin’s dry air. It also helps fight the drying effect of alcohol you may consume, as well as potentially salty meals. And it may also reduce the impact of jet lag.
Of course, you can’t bring a full bottle through security. But you can bring an empty one. Fill it at a fountain or other source before you board. Any bottle will do, but consider a plastic one that folds flat to save space. Or one with a filter to remove contaminants. One caution: check that the tap water is safe before filling your water bottle abroad.
Since travel dehydrates you, you’ll want to also tend to your dry skin. Bring along a small container of your favorite moisturizer and apply liberally throughout the flight.
Many airlines don’t provide snacks in flight, especially on shorter trips. Even if they do, pretzels and cookies may not be to your liking.
Best to pack your own snack. Pick something that travels well and has protein, fiber or both. Good choices include trail mix, your favorite nuts, dried fruit, a hard cheese, and snack bars.
Crowded public areas like airports – and enclosed spaces like airplanes – are breeding grounds for germs. So you’re more likely to catch an illness at the worst possible time: when you’re just starting your trip.
You don’t know who’s touched the same surfaces you’re touching. Hand sanitizer is a great defense against those germs and a must for your carry-on packing list. It’s also more convenient than finding a bathroom to wash your hands. Bring along a bottle that’s under 3.4 ounces, and make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
Antibacterial wipes are the companion to hand sanitizer. They work particularly well for disinfecting your surroundings. To help prevent illness, wipe down everything you’ll touch. That could include your seatbelt and seatback tray on the plane. Once you get to your destination, you can clean your room phone, remote controls, light switches and bathroom fixtures.
Those small tissue packs come in handy in several ways. Besides their intended use, you can employ them as napkins, paper towels, coasters or a wrapper for food or small objects in a pinch.
You don’t want a headache, cramps or other pain to strike when you’re in transit. Carrying painkillers at all times during your travels will keep you as comfortable as possible if aches develop.
Any number of factors can set your stomach off while you’re traveling. Food poisoning and motion sickness are just two of them. Bring along your favorite antacid or stomach medicine, and consider buying it in tablet form for convenience.
Are you prone to allergic reactions? If so, you may be even more prone when traveling. New places and foods might trigger congestion or other symptoms. Bring along anithistamines for quick relief.
Jet lag remedy
Jet lag is the bane of a long-distance traveler’s existence. Put your preferred remedy on your carry-on packing list to lessen its impact. Two possibilities: melatonin or an over-the-counter sleep aid.
Mints or chewing gum
You need every tool at your disposal to feel fresh during a long flight. Mints and chewing gum help when you can’t get to a sink to brush your teeth. They’ll also help unplug your ears during altitude changes.
It’s almost a law of travel. You’ll get a blister from all that walking or cut your hand. And there won’t be a drugstore in sight. Even if there is, they may charge a sky-high fee for bandages. Slip a few in your wallet so they’re there when you need them.
Something to keep you warm
Planes can be notoriously chilly. And the thin blankets airlines provide may not be enough to keep you comfortable.
Bring along layers like a sweater or jacket. Or a travel blanket. Women may want to carry on a large scarf, shawl or pashmina that can double as a blanket.
Compression socks increase blood flow by putting pressure on the legs, ankles and feet. That pressure causes more blood to return to the heart and not pool in the feet. When blood pools, it can cause fatigue and cramps. Or more serious circulatory problems like deep vein thrombosis, phlebitis and edema.
When you’re sitting for so long on a plane, you’re especially prone to those issues. Make compression socks a fixture of your personal carry-on packing list. Another benefit: they’ll help keep your feet warm no matter how frigid the cabin gets.
Three types of travel pillows have their fans: the horseshoe-shaped neck supports, the roll-up foam versions and the compact inflatable pillows. As you need every advantage on a plane to rest, bring along whichever suits you the best.
Eye mask and ear plugs
It’s hard to sleep on a plane, particularly if you’re not enjoying a lie-flat bed. A sleep mask can help you relax by blocking out light. It’s also helpful if your hotel room doesn’t have blackout drapes. Although airlines sometimes hand these out, for a small investment you’ll enjoy a higher-quality mask that stays in place better over your eyes.
Ear plugs muffle the continuous hum of the plane (as well as the hum from other passengers). Later, they’ll be handy if the neighbors in your hotel are louder than you’d like, or street noise keeps you up. And both the mask and plugs take up very little space to pack in your carry-on.
It’s worth investing in a good set of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. They’ll help you mute the noises from the plane and keep you focused on your music, TV show or movie.
Use a USB cable to run your devices and prevent the disaster of draining your battery power. Many planes today have USB plugs at every seat.
You can’t count on having an outlet handy during your travels. Competition for spots at airport charging stations, for example, can be intense. A back-up battery pack is an essential tool for your carry-on packing list to keep your devices running in flight or while you’re traveling.
Dedicated amateur photographers will bring a digital camera. Casual shutterbugs will use the one on their smart phone. Whatever your choice, make sure you have it handy at all times. You never know when you’ll get a fantastic view from the plane window. Or when you’ll need it during the rest of your trip to capture a once-in-a-lifetime image.
Load your devices before flying with music, movies, TV shows and podcasts. Not only will they keep you occupied, they’ll help drown out the noise around you.
Having something to read is a virtual necessity on your carry-on packing list. For maximum efficiency, load several books on your e-reader. Or bring a paperback, magazines or a newspaper along. You may decide to leave those behind once you’re done with them. It’ll lighten your load and let someone else enjoy them.
How are you going to fill out the government form required of arriving travelers without a pen? A pen will also help keep you entertained in flight, completing crossword puzzles and Sudokus. And if you enjoy keeping a journal (see below), you’ll need that writing implement. Bring at least two pens, because without fail one will run out of ink (or you’ll lose it).
Notebook or journal
It may seem old-school in this age of electronic everything. But recording your travel thoughts by hand in a notebook or journal is a wonderful way to preserve your memories.
Some people record information like daily activities, restaurants visited and their spending. Others share their impressions of a place or what they learned along the way. Yet others enjoy making various lists as a way to capture their travels. You can also turn a journal into a scrapbook by attaching souvenirs you pick up along the way.
A bonus: you can write in it anywhere at any time. No batteries or power sources to worry about (unlike your smart phone or tablet).
Thanks to your notes, years from now you’ll be able to recall the name of that great leather shop in Florence. Or that beach in Australia. Or that steak house in Argentina. Or what you most treasured about the overall experience.
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