Saturday, 7 June 2014

Think Like A Buyer If You Want To Sell Successfully

There is a process involved in selling successfully.  Indeed selling is a process.  Some companies have a structured sales process that their sales leadership encourage and train their salespeople to use – far too many do not.

In this case their salespeople do the best that they can and to some degree they “make it up as they go along”.  They will have some approach that they follow, but it is likely to be largely unconscious and based upon historical trial and error.  Although there will be successful salespeople within companies that have not adopted a structured sales process, their success will be more as a result of accident rather than design.  In general, an under performing sales force is usually the result, with all categories of salespeople from under performers to those at the top of the sales league table never fulfilling their true sales potential.

The degree of success that salespeople experience is often directly related to their ability to follow a tried and tested and proven sales process.  When a proven sales process is followed correctly the result is increased sales.

Even with companies who do have a structured sales process very few consider the customer’s buying process and how to align their sales process to it.
If we pause for a moment to consider then this becomes a concerning situation.  The salespeople will be orientating their sales process (if indeed they have a conscious process) to their own aims and agenda.  They will be largely viewing the sales process from their perspective.  It is a sales process that they, in some way, take the customer through.  The focus is largely on the result that the salesperson wants to achieve.

This is concerning because the customer is the most important person in the sales interaction.  It is the customer who will make the final decision whether to buy from you or not, and they will only do so if they believe that the purchase will benefit them in achieving their aims and objectives.  It would therefore make sense to consider things from their perspective, wouldn't it?

If you don’t do so already, I am going to invite you to consider the sales process in terms of the customer’s buying process.  Let us assume the customer’s perspective, identify the process that they will be going through as they move towards a purchase decision and then align our selling process to match their buying process. In doing this we will be providing the customer with whatever it is they need to move through their buying process to a successful conclusion.  When this is done well the successful conclusion will usually involve making the decision to purchase from you.

So they key question is - what does the customer’s buying process look like?

What follows is a typical buying process that your customer may follow:

    1. Identify need / problem or become aware that a need / problem exists
    2. Identify possible solution characteristics
    3. Search for possible suppliers /solution
    4. Request solution proposals from one or more suppliers
    5. Analyse solution proposals
    6. Evaluate solution proposals to determine preferred supplier
    7. Negotiate terms with chosen supplier
    8. Award contract
    9. Integrate and induct supplier
    10. Review supplier performance.
    If the customer has an identified and structured buying process then they will usually share this with you if asked.  Your task is then to align your sales process to the customer’s buying process.   An awareness of their buying process allows you to get ahead of the game and be well prepared as each stage presents itself.

    If, as is often the case, the customer does not have a formal or conscious buying process then it is important to elicit the process they will go through.

    Asking questions to elicit their (largely) unconscious process will be useful.

    Examples include:

    “What process will you follow to make your decision?”
    “How will you be making your decision about what is right for you?”
    “How will you go about selecting the right solution / supplier?”

    In helping the customer to get clarity about how they will make their purchasing decision will add value to the customer and help to position you as a credible, helpful and useful supplier.

    Become involved in the buying process as early as possible.  If you can get involved in the first stages of need / problem identification (or are the catalyst that causes the buying process to start in the first place) and identification of possible solution characteristics then you will be best placed to influence and shape their understanding of what they need.

    Good luck and good selling!

    Simon Hazeldine

    Simon Hazeldine MSc FinstSMM is an international speaker and consultant in the areas of sales, negotiation, performance leadership and applied neuroscience.
    He is the bestselling author of five business books:

    ·   Neuro-Sell: How Neuroscience Can Power Your Sales Success
    ·   Bare Knuckle Selling
    ·   Bare Knuckle Negotiating
    ·   Bare Knuckle Customer Service
    ·  The Inner Winner

    To learn more about Simon's keynote speeches and other services please visit:

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