By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Once an outcome has been identified, the seller should ask what capabilities the buyer has found in their research that could help achieve the desired outcome. This may be the first time the buyer tries to map parts of the offering to an outcome. After their response, the seller should do a thorough diagnosis. For complex offerings the requirements will seldom be complete. If a seller can help a buyer identify additional requirements, they will have added value during the conversation.
It becomes important to see if the seller and the person that initially contacted them can gain access to higher levels to create a cost vs. benefit to justify the expenditure being considered. Left to their own devices, internal evaluations done without executive involvement often end badly. As with inept sellers, DIY “buyers” often lead with product and fail to establish value when doing internal selling for offerings they’ve researched.
For less competent sellers proactive contacts are often with lower levels in which case it is important identify potential business outcomes and gain access to Key Players. The danger in doing so is a bottom up sales means sellers may be calling on buyers that can’t buy but can say they aren’t interested in pursuing an evaluation of the offering.
Changing the Buyer-Seller Dynamic
A competent seller’s involvement in evaluations that start at non-Key Player levels should increase the number of purchase decisions. In the same way vendors worry about cost of sales (time/effort/money spent on losses or no decisions), many employees waste time as self-appointed “buying committees” lacking business vision or acumen. Decades of perceived manipulation by sellers has jaded buyers into evaluating complex offerings without seller involvement. I believe the pendulum has swung too far, but in order to change buyer behavior it is incumbent upon vendors to migrate reps from “educators” to consultative sellers. In other word empowering sellers to execute business outcome rather than product sales.
For complex offerings, transactional relationships hurt vendors and customers. Buyers rightfully expect more from vendors, including insights into how to better run their businesses. Buyer results should improve with implementation support. The challenge is for vendors/clients to share a commitment to deliver/achieve results. It would be a long term win-win for both parties.
For more insight into selling in today’s buyer marketplace, get your copy of Rethinking the Sales Cycle.