Factor 2: Sales Process is Buyer Process
Research by McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and the sales force training firm The Rain Group all show the same thing: Buyers now prefer to work with sellers who align their process to the Buyer’s process. A seller that does not comply is one that complains about unreturned phone calls and emails—hence increased marketing and sales cost.
The New Buying Process
The studies show that Buyers prefer to conduct their own research and determine who gets invited to work with them to further refine a possible solution.
The buying process starts internally, typically when some pain becomes no longer acceptable, driving a new initiative to address it. The head of the business or functional unit (the business driver) who is responsible for the resolution of the issue now heads this new initiative. She typically assigns someone on her team to conduct preliminary research and report to her with findings and recommendations.
This is the beginning of the “Buying” process. At this point, no seller is aware that the buying process has started.
The team member assigned to this task now begins the research by entering keywords in her preferred search engine. She thenreviews the search results and begins tagging the promising ones.
Later, she will go deeper into each result to determine which will make her final cut. At no point has she called any company—this is all digital content review.
A few days later, she returns to her boss to report and make her recommendations. The business driver then makes the decision of who they will review—in other words, who makes the short list. She then tells her researcher to contact the short list and schedule meetings with the vendors’ representatives.
The New Selling Process
Since the buying process starts with research, the first thing that a Seller must do is make sure the seller’s website has deep and relevant content that addresses the issues that its market typically faces.
If the Seller has a focused market as described in Factor 1 above, then not only can it stay abreast with changes in its chosen market, but it can actually be ahead of them with thought leadership. The Seller can anticipate trajectories in regulations, changes in norms, shortages of key supplies, etc.
Because it specifically focuses on a single market and because it has depth, the Seller’s content will surface among the many sources examined by the Buyer’s researcher. The Seller’s chances of making the short list is pretty high, and it will likely be invited to present.
In addition to having highly search optimized content that drives inbound leads, if the seller also has outbound lead generation campaigns, then it is virtually guaranteed to make the short list of vendors that get invited. Its emails are likely to be opened as their message is directly relevant and always refreshing its subject matter. Its voicemails are right on and are likely to generate call-backs.
When invited to meet the business driver, the Seller must recognize that this is a collaborative event and should invite the buyer to fully participate in defining the problem as well as the solution. Read about Factor 3: Sales and Marketing.
This is exactly what buyers today are looking for since their needs are complex and will need customized solutions rather than ready-made ones. . They want Sellers who are willing to work towards customizing a solution that functions perfectly for them.
The Problem with the Old Selling Process
Lets compare the new selling process with the old. The Old Selling process consists of “blasting” a huge list with irrelevant emails and “dialing for dollars” in hopes that someone picks up. If through sheer persistence, the sales rep gets an appointment, the chances it will get canceled are high.
And if the rep actually gets the meeting, the rep typically will blow it off by forcing a process the buyer does not find useful—first I am going to tell you about me. Then I am going to ask you about you. Then I will show you my product. Then I will send you my proposal…
The old seller driven and seller biased way no longer works. Sellers must understand that Buyers are looking for committed partners.