The buyer’s world is key. Want more sales? Stop looking at it from your point of view. It’s not about you. It’s about the buyer. It’s about their buying process and your role. Their world has rules that you need to abide by if you want them to let go of any of their hard-earned dollars. The buyer’s world has all the control.
Here are the major rules in the buyer’s world.
1. The buyer doesn’t need or want you, unless and until they say so.
Every potential buyer — man, woman, or child is getting along perfectly well without you until something happens to them that changes their mind. This can be an opportunity they become aware of, a dissatisfaction with their current situation, or a desire to maintain their status quo. Sometimes you will know about the event, sometimes you won’t. The result is what we call the buyer’s “triggering event”.
As a salesperson, you can certainly help your potential become aware of an opportunity or threat. The buyer decides to take action or to continue on their merry way. You, the seller, don’t.
2. The buyer respects that their world has risks and has to reduce or overcome them if he or she does make a purchase.
When the buyer decides to take action, they begin to weigh the risks, the pros and cons of doing something rather than nothing, of choosing you or someone else. This continues throughout your “Sales Buying Continuum” process that should start with initial contact and go through purchase to reinforcement and retention.
What are they afraid of? They usually say financial issues are their biggest concerns — the cost is too high in terms of time or money. Sometimes they see the risk as functional. This is the fear that what they purchase won’t work as you promised or they believed it would. They also worry that it could hurt or be unsafe. What they don’t tell you is that they see the purchase as a social or psychological risk, a potential threat to their status, standing, or self confidence. This is the issue for most managers. The old saying is true to them, “no one ever got fired by saying no”. If the buyer is willing to take the risk (as they see it), they buy. If they don’t, they won’t.
To cope with the potential of risk that results from a purchase, a buyer may seek input from you and others before buying. Some don’t. Those who see themselves as invulnerable are non-searchers. They don’t need anyone’s advice, don’t ask for much from you, and just do it. They are usually referred to as “impulse buyers”. You might think you only want to find this kind of buyer. The downside is that they are also likely to show little or no purchase loyalty to you and your company.
Those who see themselves as extremely vulnerable, the protectors of the weak and innocent or defenders of the company’s money and reputation, want a lot of reassurance, a lot of input. We call them extended searchers. They will drive you crazy with all the information they want from you and how much research they want to complete before they buy. The good news is once you win them over, you have them forever. It’s a tradeoff: high maintenance for high loyalty.
The bulk of buyers in any sales situation are probably “searchers“. They want some input, some references, but not everything ever written or said about you and your products and services.
Again, the buyer is the one in control here. When they feel safe, they will buy; but not until. I hear about this from clients who tell me that they were sure of a sale and then the buyer backed out at the last minute. Yep, they do that all right.
3. This is a world of Big and Small Gridders™ and they want it the way they want it.
If they are what we call a “Big Gridder™” they think in big steps. They will just want to deal with big issues, get big results and don’t want to sweat the small stuff. “Little Gridders™” want every detail figured out first with little wins along the way.
You may not see it or hear about it but the buyer does go through their own Customer Buying Continuum™ process from their original perception that they might want something to their after-purchase perception of rejoicing or feeling buyer’s remorse. This can be illogical or impractical from your point of view. Your sales process has to align with what they want as they want it. Sometimes it is better to walk away if these don’t match your standard practices or ethics.
4. The buyer’s choice has to fit their world as they experience it.
Buyers also have to consider others. These are significant overt and covert criteria that relate to how easily they can incorporate what they buy from you into their situation. These may be just feelings that they can’t explain. It usually includes things like the overall budget, time, and the politics related to their choice. Author Sharon Drew Morgen refers to this as “Problem Space” in her book Selling With Integrity. This happens in both business-to-business sales and business-to-consumer sales; everybody does this.
No matter how transparent, even the government has unstated purchasing criteria. Government contracting experts like Sandra Stenzel, who designed the model used by bid resource centers nationwide, express this as the buyer’s desire for the lowest, responsible, responsive bid. This doesn’t always translate to the lowest bidder winning. Buyers are also interested in how responsible (stable, relevant, expert, etc.) the company and the solution offered are in comparison to other bidders.
This is a world of right and wrong of winning and losing. Buyers want to be right. Their world and worries don’t stop with the sale. In a way, they just begin. That is one reason they seek confirmation they made the right choice. If they don’t find it, they will experience buyer’s remorse. If they do, they will rejoice, feel good about themselves and tell others.
Does Your Sales Process Fit?
What can you do to influence this world? Make sure your sales process takes the buyer’s rules into consideration and helps them succeed.