16 May Top 4 Buyer Expectations
The world of buying and selling continues to evolve. From our past client work, here are the top expectations that buyers are levying on salespeople. Understanding these expectations is a critical step in becoming a differentiated seller.
Buyer Expectation 1: “Take More Responsibility”
Buyers must make the right purchasing decisions. And they want salespeople who work as partners to help them achieve business results. To that end, buyers now demand that salespeople understand their business, interpret their needs, and provide clear translation across their teams. Due to the evolution of buyer expectations, the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required are changing. Ten years ago, salespeople were valued primarily for their persuasiveness and persistence. But today, their abilities must include strategic thinking, problem solving, active listening, and creativity.
If you’re under increased pressure to attain not only the goals of your organization, but also the goals of the buying organization, you must accept responsibility for ensuring success on both the buyer side and seller side of the relationship
Buyer Expectation 2: ”Understand and Relate to My Business”
If you’re on the journey to move from a transactional seller to more insight-led selling, you will have to develop true partnerships with multiple buyers in the customer organization. You will need to develop deeper relationships and a personal network within customers’ companies, while also developing networks and expertise within their specific industry. To understand the customer’s business, you must probe for problems, needs, and opportunities that are top-of-mind for the buyer. As a result, you will need to recognize that buyers may view your products as commodities. True differentiation involves demonstrating how the product will solve the buyer’s business problems within the context of their business. To meet this expectation, you’ll need to develop business acumen in the areas of finance and engage in thoughtful discussions about the customer’s business strategy.
Buyer Expectation 3: “Bring Me Insights”
Historically, the roles of the salesperson and sales manager have focused on monthly or quarterly targets and results. Many sales professionals are forced into a commodity-selling environment that is transactional rather than strategic or consultative. However, in order to develop insights to share with customers, you must collect information and data over longer periods of time. You must also develop an approach to creating a valid point of view, so your point of view becomes your differentiator. To develop your point of view, you must develop techniques and mechanisms to test your point of view, receive push back about your point of view, and then back your point of view up with logic. Only then will you be able to have a more engaging conversation with buyers.
Buyer Expectation 4: “Listen More”
To help buyers solve business problems, and sell with insight, you will need to have a strong understanding of the buyer’s business, industry, customers, competitors, and products. The way to gain this knowledge and insight is to listen! You will need to develop analysis and pattern recognition skills in order to help buyers navigate the complexity of their organization and cope with the volume of information available. While communication skills are essential to success in any occupation, listening skills can help you identify root problems and hidden obstacles that could affect the buyer’s business success. Listening also requires skill in building rapport, patience, and timing in order to build the foundation for a trusting relationship. As a result, listening provides the foundation for learning about problems and supplying relevant solutions.
Traditionally, sales organizations have focused on volume of individual activity—number of calls made, number of presentations given— as an indicator of productivity. Meeting or exceeding sales quotas determined compensation. Now, firms are instituting new metrics, such as profitability and customer service satisfaction. Your personal impact can be scored and measured in addition to, or instead of, task frequency. These more sophisticated measures are surfacing as organizations attempt to shift or replace direct selling with lower-cost sales channels, such as telemarketing, direct mail, or email marketing. Plus, organizations must ensure that their sales team stays focused on the most appropriate use of time.