Buyers choose to do business with you. Not your product.
Your product is nice. I’m sure. However, your product doesn’t win orders. You do.
I realize that this doesn’t come as revealed wisdom for most of you. The whole idea of customers “buying you” has been around forever.
However, increasingly I see B2B sellers lured by the false promise of a future in which AI-driven sales tech and data-driven processes will dramatically decrease the need to actually interact with their buyers.
(I find it kind of ironic that many sales people don’t particularly like interacting with people. It calls to mind a Peanuts cartoon strip from my childhood. In it Linus shouts out “I love Mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”)
I believe sellers should consider instead the very real possibility that the future of complex B2B sales will unfold in just the opposite fashion.
Just like today, future buyers will have an important decision to make. One that will affect their companies and very possibly their careers. They can rely on an algorithm to advise them what to do. Or, they can talk to a human seller to provide their advice.
There’s already research that shows people are loathe to solely rely on machines to make crucial decisions for them. They prefer their final decisions to be influenced by a trusted advisor’s human judgment.
So, what does this mean for sellers? It means you have to get even better at the human aspects of selling. In particular, building trust-based relationships with buyers.
The key is trust.
In a recent article in The New York Times, Leigh Tost, an associate professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business was quoted as saying, “To take advice from someone is to agree to be influenced by them.”
So, in earning their trust, what the buyer did is give you, the human seller, the power to influence them with your ideas.
That trust doesn’t materialize out of thin air. You have to establish a sense of connection with the buyer as a person. They have to believe that they are sensitive to your concerns, have viable answers to their questions and can help them achieve their desired outcomes with your product.
Geoffrey Colvin, in his book Humans Are Underrated, writes that in the coming decades those professionals that are more likely to experience success will be those who are more “intensely human.”
For sellers that means developing your human selling skills to ensure that you become less robotic in how you communicate with your buyers. Not more.