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.
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?
Professional Buyers Know Your Game!
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 is to 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 their business.
About the author
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," helps individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more…