The little divide between buyers and sales people

April 5, 2009

Last year, I posted 2 questions on the LinkedIn Q&A just to see if sales people and buyers were sharing the same views on the deal process. I was asking sales people what in their view explained not closing a deal, and I asked buyers what mistakes they found sales people were making that turned them off from buying from them.

Although the survey has no pretention of being scientific, some very clear conclusions seem to come out.

What turns buyers off the most are:

  • Arrogant, pushy or condescending attitude.
  • Telling lies or pretending to know more than they actually do.
  • Talking and telling their story instead of listening to what the buyer wants.
  • Trashing the competition.
  • Sales person not identifying their needs.
  • Poor follow-up from the sales person.
  • Sales people looking for excuses or blaming others or something for poor performance.

What the sales people see as a reason for a failed sales negotiation are:

  • Not having established the customer’s needs.
  • They were not talking to the right person.
  • Their product does not add value to the customer.
  • Poor pre-qualifying of potential customers.
  • Not having established a good enough relationship.

So, clearly the buyers are looking to be treated like mature responsible professionals. They want to hear how the product or service that the sales person offers adds value to them and meets their needs. They are not interested in hearing lies or negative story about other suppliers.
They want the sales person to identify what they are looking for and then hear why the supplier product is the best for them. That is all.

Although sales people acknowledge some of the previous issues, they see the weakness mostly in the preparation and in the person on the other side. None of them mentioned that their demeanor was part of the problem. Addressing the preparation is a good thing, and yet the area where they can score the most is pretty easy: it is about asking questions to the buyer and listening to the answers. It is so much easier to offer the right solution once you know which problems need to be solved.

For sales people it is not about showing all you know, it is about thinking along with the customer. I guess that kills the idea that to be a good sales person you must be a smooth talker. No, to be a good sales person, you need to want to help others. And if your product is useless, then pass the message onto your boss and adjust your offerings.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.