Selling is simple if you’re in synch with your buyers.
At the beginning of my sales career one of my first sales managers assured me, “Andy, selling is simple. It’s not easy. But, it is simple.” Well, sales should be simple. But usually it isn’t.
The most effective way to simplify your selling is to make sure that you truly understand your customers’ buying objectives. And, then, make certain that your selling processes are aligned to those objectives.
Buying objectives are not the same as business objectives. Your customers will necessarily have defined business objectives for the products and services that they are evaluating for purchase. These could include achieving a certain internal rate of return on the investment in your product, improving the productivity of their operations, reducing their costs of goods or achieving a certain level of ongoing costs savings.
Customers also have buying objectives for the products they are evaluating for purchase. Acquiring a product or service is a task to be achieved. It’s an item on a to-do list. And, what do people want to do with items on their to-do list? That’s right. They want to check it off as completed and remove it from their list as soon as they can.
To accomplish this, customers need to gather the data and information that they need from potential suppliers (i.e. salespeople) in order to make a good purchase decision. In his best-selling book, Talent is Overrated, the author Geoffrey Colvin noted that “Getting information pushes at the two constraints everyone faces: it takes time and costs money. Making sound decisions fast and at a low cost is a competitive advantage everywhere.” This is your customer’s buying objective: to “make sound decisions fast and at a low cost.”
Your buyers’ largest cost item in gathering the information they need to evaluate the purchase of your product or service is the time of their people. This is time that they could invest in other activities that could contribute to their top or bottom lines. In short, your customers want to gather the information they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible. This is where you come in. If you want to simplify your selling, and increase your chances of success with your customers, then you need to align your selling process to help them achieve their business objective and their buying objective.
This means that you, as a salesperson, need to strip away every extraneous activity or interaction from your sales process that doesn’t deliver value to your prospects and directly contribute to helping them move at least one step closer to making a decision.
Salespeople have to be prepared to deliver the maximum value each and every time they interact with their customers (irrespective of the method that they are employing – phone, email, social, text, video or in-person calls.)
And, instead of implementing sales processes that are designed for their own convenience, sales managers need to focus on how the customer wants to buy. This means defining and implementing standards for responsiveness and follow-up that have the customer at their core and that maximize the value their sales teams can deliver with their experience, expertise and insights.
Make the extra effort to align how you sell with how your customers make their decisions, and your world will get a little simpler. And a lot more productive.