Buyers are like patients. Assuming they know the root cause of their problems leads to a misdiagnosis; a hit-and-run
One of the most self-defeating assumptions sellers make is that the buyer has all the answers about his business. Well, breaking news: he doesn’t. It is because of this assumption that many sellers simply hit-and-run. They present their product or service expecting the buyer to “see” how it fits into his life or business and hop to the next buyer. This is the most basic of selling. It’s like selling bread. To grow, a paradigm shift is required; the realization that buyers are like patients and most only share symptoms and are unaware of root cause-to grow and become relevant, help them in identifying it; become their third eye.
For instance, the CEO buyer displays confidence, assurance and certainty because he is the leader and not because he has the answers to all the problems. In any case, what’s the alternative? Walking around uninspired, with his head hanging telling everyone his problems? Sellers, who work with CEO’s e.g. bank corporate relationship managers, oil company sales people who sell through dealers, and consultants, become useful to the CEO when they display a genuine desire to assist in solving his challenges and not merely to make a sale. What does this mean? It means thinking long term, understanding his company’s strategic direction and his vision. With these in mind, it means providing business value with every interaction if the sales momentum is to be kept going. It means sharing industry insights and ideas and showing how they impact on his business. For instance, it is an exciting dynamic what is happening in the digital landscape: data, voice and TV are slowly losing silos. Just as banking and mobile had and continue to. Giving your (informed) insights into how you see the landscape shaping out makes you a useful member of that industry’s CEO’s think tank. This could include links via email with caption, “this will help with your running strategic objectives.” To get the pump station dealer to buy more fuel from your company requires more than, “please order more from us.” It requires well thought out insights into how he can get more vehicles fueling at his station. Such insights are not always directed at closing a sale. No; that ship sailed with the sale of bread. The insights are intended to keep the sales momentum going; to demonstrate that “we are in this together”; it’s us versus the problem, not you against us. It is the ultimate seller who accepts that not all interactions must be immediately commercial.
One of the things those who find themselves selling to CEOs will admit, is that the CEO won’t simply open up to you. You must earn his trust enough for him to show a chink in his armour-that he does have a weak spot. And when he does ultimately take the risk to open up to you, the last thing you want to do is abuse that privilege. Abusing it comes in the shape of having a lose mouth, talking to him in a self righteous manner and expecting that your input should be his decision. Your input is just that-input. And it’s only one of many. The ultimate decision is his-he is still the vision carrier. It’s much like men in the pub may give their input about how you should deal with the wife problem. It is the unwise man who takes such advice and blindly implements it.
But not all of us interact with the business owner or CEOs. The principle still applies. Interrogate your assumptions about the seller and find ways to keep the sales momentum going. You are there to help him identify and resolve the root cause of his symptoms.
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