I’m going to flip the script today. This blog normally helps sales people and sales leaders be better. This post is gonna go a different route. Today, I’m gonna help the buyer.
As much as there are good and bad selling processes, there are good and bad buying processes. Bad buying happens when buyers treat sales people as the enemy. When this happens, the buyer loses as much as the sales person.
Nobody wins when the buying process is taken for granted and the sales process is treated like something which needs to be “handled” or “muscled.”
When we are buyers, we have a problem. We aren’t happy with the status quo. When we are buyers, we’re trying to fix something, make something better, or avoid some pain we see coming. The best thing we can do in situations like this is embrace the sales process, not combat it. It’s the sales person and the selling process that’s going to save us.
Don’t hold back information
I see this all the time. Buyers feel they need to withhold information in order to control the selling process and keep the upper hand. The problem is, it doesn’t give the buyer the upper hand. It only prevents the sales person from getting the information they need and makes it more difficult to find the right solution for you.
As a buyer, don’t be cheap with information. Share as much as you can. It helps the sales person better help you.
Do your homework
As much as sales people need to do their homework, buyers need to do their homework too. Too often buyers don’t know enough about their own environment. They lack the understanding required to know what they need, what the real problems are and what the existing situation is. They also lack a good understanding of the results they are looking for.
When buyers don’t have command of their environment, a clear understanding of what the problems are, what the critical requirements are and what their vision for the outcome is, it’s nearly impossible for sales people to help solve the problem. Sales people rely on your knowledge of the environment and what you’re looking to accomplish to be successful.
Focus on price last
Price is important. We all want to save money. We have to work within a budget. However, prioritizing price up front only hurts you. Start with your requirements. Look at as many solutions as possible. Evaluate all your options and then, AND ONLY THEN, should you focus on price.
Prioritizing price too early limits the ability for you to evaluate value. It increases the probability of good solutions being weeded out too early in the process. Don’t let price drive the evaluation process. It’ll come up on it’s own. Don’t introduce it too early.
Don’t hate on your sales people
Your sales person is NOT the enemy. If you don’t like him or her, ask for a new rep, but whatever you do, treat the sales person like an ally. Ask them lots of questions. Ask them to fill in your knowledge gaps. Share as much information with them as possible (see #1). Become familiar with your sales rep.
Your sales rep is a tool that should be used well. The best sales reps are eager to engage with you. They want to partner. They want to help you. Leverage this enthusiasm and commitment to you to get the best solution or product for your business. Good buyers have learned how to leverage sales people as a valuable asset.
Don’t buy by the numbers
Buying by the numbers is usually done with an RFP. It’s when a company invites numerous companies to respond to a formal RFP with specific questions everyone has to answer. The RFP process almost always prevents sales people from engaging with the decision makers. Questions must be submitted by form or email at certain times. Rarely are the business drivers or business issues given. The RFP usually contains a list of specs, or features your product or solution must meet and a price.
RFP’s are the dumbest way to buy ever created. I understand the objective behind them. However, they do very little to help the buyer make a good decision and they make the process a nightmare for sales people. RFPs prevent almost ANY level of creativity and make it difficult for unique solutions to be put on the table. Finally, they prevent sales people from truly understanding what the customer is trying to do – – RFPs suck!
Don’t create a rigid, buy by the numbers, RFP or buying process that has sales people checking off boxes and follow specific steps to sell to you. It only hurts you in the end.
Don’t need to be in control
Good buyers know it’s in their best interest to relinquish a little bit of control. It doesn’t serve a buyer’s best interest to be in control of the process. If they are doing it right, if they are going to get the best solution possible, good buyers understand they HAVE TO let go. They recognize they don’t know everything. Buyers have to trust the sales person. They have to allow others to work with them to solve the problem. They HAVE to let sales people in.
When we don’t let sales people in, we are stunting our growth. We become the sole contributor of information and therefore fewer solutions are identified, fewer opportunities capitalized on.
Good buyers KNOW to let sales people in.
Make a decision
Good buyers know it’s never going to be “perfect,” that eventually a decision has to be made. Good buyers recognize you have to commit. Indecision or paralysis by analysis is the enemy of growth. Good buyers do their due diligence. They weigh their options, they are sure of their direction and they make decisions.
Good buyers commit and go!
Sales people can be pains in the ass. But, guess what? So can buyers. Before you start bitching about your sales person, be a good buyer.
As a buyer you have as much to lose from a shitty sales process as the sales person. Be a good buyer, it’s in your best interest.
Here is to good buyers!