By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
I’m not sure how many of you have had to drive in countries using the “wrong side” of the road. My first experience was in Ireland. After taking a red eye from Boston at about 6:30 in the morning local time, we headed out in our rental car. It was amazing to realize something usually done instinctively now required thinking. Decisions had to be made when entering roundabouts, making turns, etc. Habits were so engrained I went to get in the wrong side of the car multiple times. The conclusion I made early in this driving experience was that my first impulse was almost always wrong. For example if approaching a car head on, veering to the right (an American instinct) can make you wish you’d opted for the insurance.
It may be time for vendors to give more thought to what they have done for decades in providing sellers so much product training. I appreciate that competent sellers must be knowledgeable about offerings. That said, few vendors have taken a step back and realized the role of sellers has changed over the last 15 years. My question: How often is the product training helpful to B and C Sellers?
Given a choice, most mid to low-level staff within prospect organizations prefer to delay talking to sellers. They do their own research of offerings via the Internet and social networking. I believe this is partly due to baggage about stereotypical salespeople and the belief they are more concerned about earning commission than addressing buyer needs. User-level buyers that have done research are likely to find sellers aren’t especially helpful. My view is an increasing percentage of opportunities start with “expert” buyers contacting sellers later in buying cycles than ever before.
If and when B and C sellers call at Key Player levels (whether proactive or reactive contacts), how useful is extensive product knowledge? Most executives have little interest in learning all about offerings. A Players realize these buyers want to know how business results can be improved through the use of offerings and therefore are able to align with buyers.
When making calls at high levels, B and C Players mimic the behavior of people driving on the other side of the road. Their instincts and comfort levels because of all of their training is to start by talking about product.
When calling at all levels, sellers must help buyers identify business issues. For that reason vendors should consider changing the mix of product/business training so that the latter becomes more of a comfort level. It’s painful for buyers when calls degrade into product pitches, the equivalent of veering right in Ireland to avoid head on collisions.