Buyers have lots to do before they buy. And it has little to do with your product or their need.
You know those times when buyers show up and, barely before you can ask them what they need, buy? That’s because they’ve already done what they need to do BEFORE they contact you and they are ready. Unfortunately, the majority of buyers don’t realize what they have to do until AFTER they’ve started discussions, leaving us to think they are in a position to buy. They aren’t.
Before I tell you what it is they must do before buying, I’d like to say that I’ve asked hundreds of people where their prospects go when they say “I’ll call you back?” Here are the responses I always get, and have gotten (the same ones) for decades. And in this order:
1. they are going to find a cheaper price; 2. they are checking out the competition; 3. they are checking us out.
My response: “Really? How do you know?”
The answer, after a few beats of silence: “I don’t. It’s just a guess. I guess the answer is ‘I don’t know.’
Lots of guesses.
Here’s the deal. Sales focuses on product/solution placement/need. All of our activities are (net, net) focused on understanding need and making nice so we can place product. We think we do such a great job we could almost convince ourselves of the quality of our hard work and effort – and brains and professionalism, of course. But it’s pretty hard to reach around to pat ourselves on the back with a lower-than-ten-percent close rate.
So we blame the buyer and the product and the environment. And we all look at each other with grave understanding when the buyer never comes back. But no one, no one, is blaming the sales model.
How do you go about deciding?
I have a question. When you seek to purchase or rent a new home, what percentage of time do you spend understanding your choice of the residence, vs. the time you spend in discussion with your spouse, finding schools and choosing school districts, talking to neighbors and friends, traveling around neighborhoods to make choices, talking to banks, filling out paperwork, finding a buyer for your current home and cleaning closets and painting garages, and the most dreaded of all – moving. Moving out and moving in and packing and unpacking.
All of us know that before we make a purchasing decision, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that needs to get done to make sure nothing falls apart along the way. And for sure, when we start down the path, we kinda know what needs to happen but we sure as hell don’t know all of what will happen. Will the bank lose the paperwork? Will the roof of your current home spring a leak – the day before the new buyers sign the bank papers – and you’re out $5,000 because the house still is yours?
Can the real estate agent manage that stuff for you – even if she understands what you need to do? Well, not using the ‘sales’ model. But before you can move in to your new house, you’ve got to do all of that. Before any change takes place, and purchasing a solution will effect a change in the buyer’s environment, all of the internal, hidden issues that surround the ‘need’ must buy in to the change and somehow be addressed. You would never put a down payment on the house first, and then figure out the schools and the financing and the sale of your own house. First you resolve the internal, private, ‘systems’ issues and THEN you are ready to make a purchase.
And so with your clients. They have stuff to do in their teams, their corporations, their families. And understanding needs, or knowing what solution would be best, doesn’t help them navigate through the mysteries.
Sales is a product placement tool. So blame the sales model for not knowing where your buyers go. And if you ever want to add a new skill set to your sales model and facilitate the buyer’s internal decision issues – separate from their need or your solution – have a look at Buying Facilitation™. Then you can use your terrific sales skills.
If you’d like me to write a White Paper for you on understanding the decision issues your buyers face, please email me at email@example.com.
Or have a look at my book Buying Facilitation:the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. Click here for two free chapters. It will teach you how to understand and manage the route through the internal decision process. Will it help you make a sale? Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure will help you make a client.