Buyers buy using their own buying patterns. Unfortunately, sellers lose a lot of business by using their own selling patterns: if the seller’s selling patterns don’t match the buyer’s buying patterns, there will be no sale, regardless of the proximity of the seller’s solution to the buyer’s need.
With so much confusion and risk management slowing down sales, maybe it’s time to stop doing what we’re comfortable with.
Consider telemarketing. The products sold are perfectly fine products. But we’ve always hated the selling patterns: phone calls on Sunday mornings, late at night, during dinner.
If you think about it, what they are doing is not too different from a typical selling pattern: introduce product, pitch, ask for a sale.
Buyers don’t buy that way. Before they can consider any changes to their status quo – regardless of a need – they must get buy-in from colleagues, make sure the established rules will fit with any proposed change, and be certain that current initiatives won’t be disrupted. And we have no way of helping them manage all that – especially if we use our selling patterns.
This current economic climate is causing a lot of confusion. Buyers have a whole lotta offline stuff that needs to get done, and it’s only once this is complete (the length of the sales cycle) that the buyer will understand their buying patterns.
We’re coming in at the wrong end of the buying decision, using tactics that focus on understanding and resolving need – the very last thing a buyer needs – when the buyer first needs to maneuver through their offline, internal management issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with what we have to sell.
Instead of focusing on how buyers buy, or who the decision makers are, or understanding need, help the buyer maneuver through their offline issues. Help them figure out what they have to address internally, with their teams and their vendors and their initiatives, so they can develop a set of buying patterns you can work with. They have to do this anyway. Might as well be with you. But it demands a decision facilitation approach.
Then you can sell.
Btw: I have a book coming out on this in September: The Dirty Little Secret: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it