Buyers and Sellers Are Stuck In The Middle.
By Ton Verleg
Buyers and Sellers have something in common: They find themselves stuck in the middle. To get out of that situation and become more successful both require a strategic focus. Unfortunately, the more they give in to taking the easier, tactical road, the more regret they will have either with their purchase or with the (lack of) value that was sold.
Let me explain. First, from a Buyer’s point of view. We already know that making the right decision for a buying group is more complex than ever before; Stakeholders tasked with exploring new growth opportunities are overwhelmed by the amount of online information available to them.
Do you think online shopping for a new television is difficult? Try B2B purchasing that may affect the future of your whole organisation. It is a big responsibility. Effective Buying is a time-consuming thing. It takes time to explore, time to research and even more time to meet with suppliers.
On top of that, Sellers are targeting Buyers nearly every day via omnichannel like LinkedIn, email, Instagram, Whatsapp and the good old telephone, promising the moon at every Like or Click. No wonder they feel disappointed when the offered value followed up by the salesperson is not exactly the right fit.
The purchasing challenge doesn’t stop here. Imagine due diligence in the Why Change? Change to What? And Change to Who? Phases have been done, and there is the consensus of the Buying group to move forward in their buying process. Now the road to purchase and implementation is getting even more complicated, and this has nothing to do with incoming suppliers but more with internal processes. Purchasing departments have to jump through numerous internal hoops and cut loads of red tape. The way to a sign-off is long. It is a labyrinth of internal buy-in, further requests for information, negotiating and approvals. Modern Buying is a necessity for organisations to get ahead, but it is not easy, and they are looking for salespeople who understand their challenges and can help.
Stuck in the Middle
So, what is trending in this Buyer’s world? Modern Buying is definitely making a shift up the strategic value curve. If they cannot find it, then they prefer not to change. This is, in particular, the case where procurement teams are involved. They are aware of the purchasing regret risk. They know that making the wrong decision can also be costly. Ask any procurement person you know, these teams will drive suppliers to their limits, and from their perspective, a change will only happen if the strategic value is more or less guaranteed. Buyers fear making mistakes, there is a lot on the table, even their job. Hence, the more reasons why they are stuck in the middle, decisions are delayed, and in these situations, they are basically faced with two options:
- Finding a supplier that can do the same thing as the current one, but at a cheaper price.
- Do nothing. Remain at the status quo and wait until strategic value can be found.
Let’s turn to the Sellers: Modern Selling is confronted with a similar dilemma and risk. Either you invest your time to upskill yourself so you are able to have strategic conversations with your customers or accept the easier road of sending a lot of tactical offers hoping that some Buyers will bite. The risk with that is that Buyers are shifting up the strategic curve and soon will not be interested in spending time with salespeople who can not help them. Their value expectations have changed.
Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective is giving you that chance to be strategic with your customers and prospects. It requires developing Business Acumen, a common sense of how businesses operate and how they make buying decisions. You need to be good at storytelling and insight selling. And when Hidden Competitors are found, you need to know how to handle these. In addition, to help stakeholders with their internal challenges, you need to be perceived as someone they can trust and help drive consensus internally.
Stuck in the Middle
Most salespeople are stuck in the middle. Their closing ratio is 30% at best. And at these deals, the offered strategic value is so low that Buyers will keep looking for where the grass might be greener. They do not care about loyalty and jump ship for any discount.
Offering Strategic value has a huge benefit: Studies have shown this ability will pay off. Closing ratios can shoot up to 70%, and customer loyalty is high.
Being a Trusted Advisor who Sells with the Buyer’s Perspective is a choice you make. If done well, one thing is sure: modern Buyers will welcome you with open arms. Invest in yourself, and don’t be stuck in the middle.Tags: Ton Verleg