Your Buyer is Smarter than You
By Mark Hunter
Too many salespeople view their buyers as anything but smart,
especially those salespeople who deal with purchasing departments.
In far too many sales communities, there exists an attitude that
buyers and purchasing departments are nothing more than barriers
that need to be broken down.
Well, yes there are barriers. Ironically, though, they are
barriers that more often than not are there due to the very actions
of the sales community. One simple thing salespeople need to keep
in mind is the fact the professional buyer sees far more salespeople
in the course of a week or month than most salespeople realize.
Buyers have every reason to put up barriers, because the sales
community in general can crank out some pretty pathetic salespeople.
How do I know this? Simple – buyers have told me (not just
once, but often twice. And not just in one industry, but in several
industries). As a consultant, I often have access to buyers in a
way that most salespeople don’t. More importantly, the people I meet
share with me insights they would never share with the sales
community. The buying community is really quite smart. They do
their job well. Stop and think for a moment about this question: If
they didn’t do their job well, wouldn’t their company let them go,
especially in today’s economy?
Buyers are smart . You should also know that they’ve seen
every trick and every sales pitch known to mankind. I never cease to
be amazed at how well many buyers can play back to me specific
examples of sales techniques used by salespeople. What’s even
better is that not only have they shared with me examples of what
they’ve seen, but they also have shared how they have responded to
these sales techniques.
I know it may be painful to hear, but you are not as smart as
you think you are, and the new trendy sales approach you have
learned probably isn’t as revolutionary as you believe it is. It
more than likely isn’t going to equip you to blast through barriers
the purchasing department has in place.
It’s for this very simple reason why I tell salespeople the
number one thing you can do when dealing with professional buyers
and purchasing departments is to be yourself and be positive. Your
buyer will see right through you if you’re not being yourself.
They’ll also see right through you if you’re putting on a front and
not genuinely showing interest in their business and the concerns
and needs they have.
If you’re not genuine, it will show. Sure, you might be able
to pull off your trick for a one sales call or maybe even a couple,
but your trick will be exposed. When it is, the consequences you’ll
face will be severe. This is something to always keep in mind. Many
times when a professional buyer decides to cut you off, they may not
tell you right away – they may leave you hanging in the wind for
days, weeks or even months. One reason they may choose to do this
is to simply see how you’re going to respond or, more likely, to
continue to gain information from you that they can then use to
negotiate a better package with your competitor.
When a professional buyer does this, they’re doing their job.
You may naively think they’re being stupid, because they’re
not being more forthcoming with you. This is where the real
stupidity starts to come out with the salesperson. Because the
salesperson believes the buyer is not smart, they start to play
bullying games back with the buyer. Such examples include trying to
go around them or opening up other doors. The only thing this does
if further alienate the salesperson from doing any business with the
purchasing department, because the buyer with whom you first began
working alerts the rest of the buying department about you and what
you may potentially try to do.
All of this comes back to my original point: Buyers are smart
and purchasing departments have a job to do and they do it well.
They’ve seen the games that can be played and they know how to
leverage such games to their advantage.
As a salesperson, you can thrive with buyers and purchasing
departments if you follow these simple approaches: Be yourself, be
professional, and be engaged in genuinely wanting to help the buyer
and their company. If you can’t do these things, then you shouldn’t
be selling. If you are not sure if you’re already doing these
things, then I hate to tell you this, but you’re probably not.
Don’t walk around telling people you care about them
and that you are so concerned about helping them. The salespeople
who truly do care and are concerned let it come out in their actions
day in and day out. Other people see it and do not need the
salesperson to offer a verbal alert to it.
Do you think I’m way off base in these observations about the
buying community? Don’t take my word for it. Ask your buyer. They
will give you a straight answer – but only if you are being
yourself, demonstrating trust, and genuinely caring for them and
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