Sales Training Article: Bad Assumption #2 – Buyers Are a Blank Canvas

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” 

A knowledgeable researcher has done their homework by visiting multiple vendor websites and leveraging their social network prior to reaching out/being willing to talk with a salesperson. Many have been happy to avoid early seller involvement. They have an inherent distrust of sellers and feel they may try to skew the requirements to gain a competitive advantage with no concern about how they are meeting buyer needs.

Problem: Despite the fact that vendors agree their sellers are getting involved in buying cycles later than ever before, most leave it up to each individual salesperson to determine how they are going to align with potential buyers that have already established their requirements. The most common mistakes they make are:

1. Failing to give buyers a chance to share with them what requirements they have already determined. This is unfortunate because they completely disrespect the time spent in acquiring knowledge about offerings and start from ground zero as though the buyer were a novice. Poor alignment = Poor buying experience.

2. Those sellers that ask what requirements have been established make premature attempts to change the requirements list. This will upset (infuriate) buyers and sellers will run the risk of not making the short list of vendors to be seriously considered.

Sellers fail to understand the buyers that have done research have a vision of the features/capabilities they feel are needed. In the language of CustomerCentric Selling®, these buyers are already in Phase 2 of their buying cycles (evaluating offerings). In order to align with these buyers it is necessary to:

  • learn what they think they want,
  • then take them back into Phase 2 (solution development), and
  • by asking questions hopefully have buyers conclude there were some missing requirements.

Executing this successfully will provide better buying experiences, have buyers conclude sellers are competent and provide a better chance of being Column A (the vendor of choice).

Take a look at the sales training workshops available to you.