Putting buyers’ interest first puts you in a winning position

Fighting to be in a scoring position will mean letting go of sales sometimes. Which is fine if that was the only way to assist the buyer get what he needs.

“Always fight to be in a scoring position.” So, a Director of Business Development reader friend of mine used to tell the players of the children’s basketball team he used to coach. Irrespective of the game, football, basketball or volleyball this maxim holds true. It does so too in selling: fight to be in a scoring position. The traditional seller interprets this as going for the jugular when the buyer’s not looking. Well, that may have worked once but not so much today when the 21st C buyer is spoilt for choice, has heightened access to information and sustainable long term relationships is what is trending. Today putting oneself in the scoring position means several things all focused on the buyer.

Market intelligence

First, is remaining the go-to seller for the buyer, by being market intelligent. As this blog has averred, to be useful to a customer, you must know what his options are. Your competition are his options. Showing why your solution is better for him while wisely responding to his queries about his options puts you in a scoring position. The lady at your preferred local kiosk should be able to direct you to the shop that has the item you want but she doesn’t. Like me, do you feel irritated when a seller, say a bookshop, claims (feigns?) ignorance when you ask them where to get the book they aren’t stocking but you want? Referring doesn’t lose the buyer to the competition. No. It earns you his respect.

Lessons from informal sellers

Next, the informal sellers market is a truly resourceful place to glean lessons in selling. Here’s one on fighting to be in a scoring position. Whether for mitumba, curios or food there’s always sellers outside the main market. Their wares are fewer and the variety easy to pick. Their prices are usually comparatively higher too and that’s because they have placed themselves in the scoring position for the many customers who do not want to be caught in the fray of the main market.

In the corporate world, this is referred to as visibility, and is the leading cause of promotions and purchases. Human resource experts will tell you that contrary to what the script says, technical competence alone will only get you so far-visibility with decision makers is what takes you the rest of the way. Thriving insurance and bank salespeople talk about having “their markets.” They are in a scoring position in them. So successful are they in their markets that buyers “own” them. “Wewe ni wetu” (you are one of us) they will say. And why? Because they are always available to resolve a problem just as they are to make a sale.

Lessons from doctors

A third way to fight to be in a scoring position is to learn from doctors. Seeking first to understand the buyers need ahead of sharing how your product can resolve it-if at all it can. Deriving a comprehensive prognosis that informs the useful diagnosis. A wrong prognosis can lead to death in the medical world. In the sales world, death comes in the lack of a sale, marred, unsustainable relationships and frustration on the part of the seller. A correct prognosis is derived through resourceful well thought out questions and actively listening to the customer responses.

Fighting to be in a scoring position will mean letting go of sales sometimes. Which is fine if that was the only way to assist the buyer get what he needs. And that’s hard for many sellers to buy yet, paradoxically, that’s exactly how they would want to be treated as buyers.

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