Back in 1994, I had just graduated from college and was getting ready to buy my first car. I had some hopes and dreams about what I wanted, but I also needed to make sure I got the right car — one that was reliable enough, not too expensive, had the right options, and so on.
So what did I do? I spent a week going to various dealers, doing test drives, asking questions (and getting some high-pressure tactics to buy right now). Ultimately, I did pick the one I wanted. Of course, then I had to go figure out my financing options, which again required the painstaking process of talking with various sales reps and agents. I wasn’t happy with the process, but I didn’t have a choice.
Fast-forward to today. When I recently bought a car, I did all the research online over the course of a few weeks. I was able to compare models, search reviews, read forums, and see what my friends had to say. I was able to pick the exact model I wanted, with the exact features. And I was able to figure out exactly what I should pay for it. I negotiated the price and the financing online. The first — and only time — I actually spoke with a dealer was to sign the paperwork and take delivery.
Why the difference? Back in the 1990s, if a potential customer wanted to learn about your products or solutions, they found that information was scarce. They could not “just Google it,” and the only route to the information was to talk to a representative of the company. This was true across many industries: ...