Introducing The Self-Contained Buyer!
(a) Buyers Are ‘Doing It For Themselves!’
Buyers are increasingly self-contained. They like to be in control and to stay in control. That means they start to elicit the requirements, build the business case and define the solution well in advance of meeting vendors.
Buyers know that they have the power in a market where suppliers out-number customers. That means they are increasingly confident and assertive in dealing with vendors. In short ‘they call all the shots’’.
(b) Vendors Are Left Waiting in the Hall
Buyers are increasingly cautious regarding when they engage with vendors, what they say and when they say it. They are limiting and controlling access to information and to key decision makers. That means they are leaving vendors in the hallway, or putting them through to voicemail, while decisions are being made in the board room, or the executive suite.
(c) Information is power
Vendors no longer control the flow of information, with buyers having greater access to from a wide variety of sources, including analysts, buying forums, the web, etc. Many of these sources are less partisan and often more trustworthy.
That means they are no longer dependent on the salesperson as a source of information. Indeed, they may know more than the salesperson knows about the products, or solutions available.
(d) Access Is Limited
Access to the growing number of people involved in a buying decision, including stakeholders, influencers and decision-makers, can be a real challenge for sales people. This is particularly the case where more senior managers are involved.
Buyers are setting the rules of engagement. They are increasingly controlling access to managers with responses, such as; ‘you will have to go through purchasing’, or ‘if you tell me the information that you need I will get it for you.’ They don’t take well to vendors who try to circumvent the rules, or go ‘over their head’.
(e) Newsflash for Sellers
Buyers don’t want to be treated as a lead, or a prospect and they don’t want to be prequalified, or to be closed. Nor do they don’t want to be corralled into the salesperson’s pipeline, or managed through his, or her funnel. In short, buyers are increasingly independent and self contained.
Implications for Sellers
1. Vendors must try to build a relationship early in the buying process, or perhaps even before it begins. Increasingly, the vendor who waits to be called by the buyer is arriving late and being drawn into a competitive bidding situation.
2. Vendors need to stop selling and ask buyers how they can help them to make their decision.
3. Vendors must earn the right to ask questions and to access information.
4. Sellers must to earn a seat at the table and the opportunity to talk directly to all of the stakeholders and decision makers.
5. Vendors must resist being drawn in to parent child relationships with buyers, working to build relationships that are characterised by high of openness, communication and respect.
John O' Gorman is a Business to Business sales coach, Director of The ASG Group and co-author of the ground-breaking book, The B2B Sales Revolution. John works with sales teams and sales managers across Europe to accelerate sales using the sales performance solution; SellerNAV.
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