The title of this blog is one of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard in relation to winning business.
It came from a speaker at a procurement conference I attended recently. A senior procurement executive told the audience of would-be suppliers that he and his fellow procurement professionals knew all the sales tactics that suppliers use on them. “These days,” he said, “it’s all about ‘understanding the customer’. You use various questioning techniques to get insight into our real needs and wants.” What he said next really made me think:
“As buyers, you need to know that we choose who we allow to understand us.”
Buyers can see through sales ‘techniques’
In conversation after the conference he elaborated on his comments. He explained that he and his fellow buyers know that the better sales people are taught to show interest and get to understand the customer. It is always obvious to them when this isn’t genuine interest, just a technique used to get a sale.
He could see through salespeople who only asked questions to uncover the ‘hot buttons’ which they then pounced on to sell their solution. Just like Tigger pouncing on an unsuspecting Winnie the Pooh in the cartoon, these sellers showed interest in the customer until they have enough information to do what I refer to as ‘the sales pounce‘.
Going through the motions won’t work
The dynamics of modern business development meetings are complex. It’s not enough anymore to go through the motions and only show interest long enough to find the buying signals.
“We can all tell when someone else isn’t really listening to us; we can tell when someone is on their own agenda, not ours. We feel misled.”
Unless buyers see genuine interest they will withhold vital information. When buyers feel misled they keep back the insights that would make it easier to motivate them to buy and easier to propose exactly the right solution. Remember, we choose who we allow to understand us.
You didn’t lose that sale on price
The most frequent reason I hear for a sale being lost is ‘price’. When I ask the same people how they won their best customers I get a long list of reasons which includes things like ‘the chemistry being right’, ‘getting a total understanding’ and ‘arriving at a fantastic solution at a price that both parties were happy with’.
All too often price gets blamed for the loss of a sale when in fact it was poor business development/sales practice that meant the customer was less than motivated to reveal the full picture. They revealed the full picture to someone who genuinely cared. That person won the business.
Make sure you are the one who the customer allows to understand them.
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