Sales Training Article: Old Selling Approaches Yield Poor Buying Experiences

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

Over the last decade vendors began to evaluate buying experiences they were providing. The truth be told, many were motivated by a shift in power as buyers leveled playing fields with sellers by using the Internet and social networking.

Selling approaches have changed at a glacial pace.

Most vendors deserve low grades or “incompletes” for their efforts to improve the way they treat buyers. Creating Sales Enablement functions without the needed organizational changes has been the equivalent of applying Band-Aids when surgery was needed.

It seems to me there’s a fundamental flaw in the way vendors look at buyers.

For decades sales organizations have viewed a seller’s job as getting buyers to do what they wanted them to do (buy).

If buyers raised objections sellers were taught how to overcome them. Some sellers welcome objections because each one that is overcome means they are a step closer to getting the business. They subscribe to the theory that selling begins when buyers say no. What a horrible way to treat people trying to make buying decisions.

The Internet and social networking allowed buyers to see an alternative to “being sold.” The problem in my mind has been that executives lack the time and most websites lack the content to engage them.

This has some important implications:

1) Many “buyers” doing product evaluations have neither budget nor support from executives in their companies.

2) There is little if any need development to estimate the potential cost vs. benefit and assess if there is potential value.

As with many things in business the pendulum of control seems to have shifted in buyers’ favor.

That said, evaluating offerings before understanding whether purchases can be justified can result in wasted time, effort and resources.

Buyers doing product evaluations are fortunate if they encounter a competent seller to pull them back to identify potential desired business outcomes and re-evaluate the capabilities needed to achieve them.

The challenge to vendors is developing salespeople with the skills needed to help buyers migrate from product evaluations to building business cases.

If done properly sellers can get away from attempting to make people buy. Buying committees that define their desired business outcomes, understand why they can’t be achieved and are aware of the capabilities needed become empowered to buy. Vendors that can teach their sales staff how to execute business outcome rather than product sales will provide superior buying experiences.

Realizing people prefer to buy rather than be sold is a significant step in improving buyer experiences.

As soon as our children could talk, they resisted attempts to convince or persuade them to do things my wife and I wanted them to do.

Why do vendors cling to an obsolete definition of selling that buyers will resist? They want to be empowered to buy.