Ray Collis

Myth #8: Sales Process Equals Buying Process

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It follows that as selecting a supplier is only a small part of the process, the sales process is typically only a small part of the buying process.

The buying process is not just the search for a supplier and it does not begin by talking to suppliers about their solutions. It often begins long before the seller becomes involved and may even continue after the seller has departed.

As shown below it is not until the third phase of the Fortune 1000 buying process that suppliers are explicitly mentioned and then only to ‘obtain supplier quotes’.

Buying Process: The Seller Is in the Dark

Buying Process

For more than one-third of the buying process (the most important part) the seller is in the dark and has yet to be called to the table. Effectively the role of the seller has been marginalized. As this example shows the seller is no longer required until requirements have been defined and the business case is well underway.

As a result of not being involved until relatively late in the buying process it becomes more difficult for suppliers to differentiate themselves or to even influence the buyer’s decision criteria. Indeed, they risk being drawn into a competitive bidding situation.

Clearly, the buying process is no longer defined by the interaction with the seller. Indeed, the sales process and the buying process are two very distinct things, as shown in the next diagram.

Overlaying Sales Process on The Buying Process

Sales Process & Buying Process

When the vendor’s sales process is overlaid on the buyer’s buying process it highlights a stark difference in perspective. The buyer’s view is long-term and strategic, whereas the seller’s is short-term and often focused purely on completing the sale.

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