Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that to get the things you want, you need to help other people get the things they want. This advice is especially applicable to selling. Focus on the buyer first, and the sales will follow.
Sales teams and individuals learn how to accomplish this buyer focus by completely revamping the traditional approach to sales. Much of this approach is based on the recognition that knowledge comes before action, so understanding the habits of buyers is a must. Here, we will follow a similar mindset and take a brief look at who buys, why they buy, and what this means to you as a seller.
Business-to-business transactions are no different than consumer decisions—they’re personal. Why? Because businesses do not buy and businesses do not sell—people do. This is the first rule of thumb a sales team should follow when selling a product to another company: focus on the perceptions, beliefs, and motivations of the people making the decision. They are in control of the business’ buying decision. It is the seller’s job to connect with the buyer on a personal level.
Customers obviously have a different set of needs than do the sales organizations, and they want salespeople who can address those needs. The salesperson’s product knowledge is of very little use to them unless it is put into the context of the customer’s business.
Sales effectiveness, which is based on the competence of the salespeople, and the resources and support provided by their companies, has risen to the top the of customer’s influence list. All the other factors; price, features, quality, service; have become givens or “expected”. They are not a competitive advantage, only the basic requirement for being considered in the first place. In almost every market today, all the major competitors are offering roughly equivalent solutions, which in effect become standard expectations of the customer.
Another reason why sales effectiveness has emerged as the most influential factor in customers’ buying decisions is that competition among vendors tends to increase the number of choices presented. Sometimes, the more choices a customer has, the more difficult it is to choose the right one, the longer it will take to decide, and the less likely they are to buy. It will depend on how the choices are offered and how well the salesperson helps guide the customer through the buying decision process.