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BUYER Process Trumps Sales Process

Buyers in Fortune 1000 organizations say the challenge facing professional sales teams is to adapt how they sell to how buyer’s are going to buy.  They have told us that high value buying is developing into a science around the allocation of scare recourse to major projects and purchases.

Now as sellers we need to sit up and pay attention. We need to ask ourselves what impact this will have for our standard sales process and the traditional sales techniques we have used for years. A massive impact I hear you say.

Now we all know how important a well defined sales process is, but in our heart and souls we know it is not as important as the buyer’s buying process. We need to do a bit of soul searching and ask ourselves how well we really know our customers buying process.

As professional business people it is incumbent on us to understand what steps are involved in our customer buying process, what activities will take place in each step and who will be involved across the process.  That all may seem like I am stating the obvious but when we asked 20 senior managers to map out their customer buying process in a recent workshop only one person was able to articulate the process clearly.

So the question is How well do you know the buying process involved in your major sales opportunities?  Here is a usefull checklist to apply to your sales opportunities.

We all know modern buying has changed. It is undergoing a revolution, once ad hoc and unstructured it has become sophisticated and process driven. One senior buyer described it as the allocation of scarce resources between competing projects. He went on to say “the challenge is not to select a supplier it is to navigate through a strict process”. Food for thought.

John O’ Gorman is a Business to Business sales coach who works with sales teams and sales managers across Europe to pinpoint sales performance opportunities and barriers to growth. John has recently co-authored “The B2B Sales Revolution -” and “Quick Win B2B Selling”. The B2B Sales Revolution is the first ever book written on selling in conjunction with buyers from Fortune 1000 organizations.

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  • Thanks for sharing John. I like the graph. It opens your eyes immediately and makes you think about your process. Question 5 is crucial. A lot of professionals don’t realise “how long would it take” to close and for that reason they run out of cash, funding or worse, motivation.

  • John, Nice introduction! The pace of change on the buyer side is increasing all the time yet on the sales side, we continue with the same strategies that stopped working a long time ago. For the first time, I am starting to think that salespeople will become redundant because our profession is failing to adapt.

  • Johnogorman

    Hi Niall, the buyers are telling us they will meet experts, people who can share insights. For those who can adapt to the changes of modern buying, there will be new level of success… for those who cannot it threatens ruin.

  • John, your post inspired me to challenge the SLI community this evening. I may have done myself some damage but I really think we need to now consider that the profession of selling is a dead duck and that we are fighting a losing battle?

  • Johnogorman

    Hi Fred, the length of the buying process will obviously dictate the pace of buying, as sellers and busiess owners we need to build this into our long term planning for sure.

  • Johnogorman

    Niall, as you know we have some great sellers in the country doing a great job selling locally and internationally, they are adapting and seeking out ways to help their customers buy.

    Modern day buying is going to challenge the whole sales profession. There is a new game being played that we all need to understand.

    There are lots of good intiatives helping to develop strong selling teams. SLI in my view has a key role in this. The job at hand is to link the initiatives.

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