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Book Review on Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

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A few days ago, as I flipped through a business book in an airport, I came across the words "decision team".
When I began talking about the buyer's decision issues, and introduced the term "decision team" to an audience 15 years ago, only one person came up to me afterwards and asked what a decision team was.
Because sellers always assumed that their pitch or product would rule the day and that buyers had to be somehow convinced, the words "decision team"were of little interest at the time.
But as we've progressed, and as we understand how the net has taken over a good portion of your sales jobs, we've begun to understand how important the buyer's decision is.
Indeed, it always has played the pivotal role in the buying process: you just didn't know what to do about it.
For some reason, however - and hopefully this is the sales profession's last gasp - sellers seem to think that they have to drive the sale.
In reality, it's the buyer.
It's always been the buyer.
The only control you 've ever had over the buying process is the way you deliver your content.
You've had no earthly idea of what is going on within the buyer's buying environment, although you pride yourselves on understanding the specifics of the problem your product resolves.
And, until I developed the Buying Facilitation Method, there was no way to get deeply imbedded within the buyer's culture to support the range of decisions that a new purchase would demand.
INSIDE VS OUTSIDE KNOWLEDGE So when flipping pages in the book, it was delightful to see a sign that my ideas were beginning to enter the mainstream.
But I quickly realized that the authors were advocating Same old, Same old, and indeedstill approaching the buying decision, and decision teams, through the lens of sales.
I'm going to repeat my much used mantra: do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities.
And the best that sellers can do, using a product-focused approach, is to have control over the content, and recognize how and when to ensure the product gets adopted appropriately, in the right way, in the right environment, and with integrity.
The buyer is the only one - THE ONLY ONE - who has the means, the knowledge, the political influence, and the capacity to align and manage all of the internal elements that need to be addressed before a buying decision can be made.
For some reason - sellers, like change managers, coaches, and consultants - believe that because they recognize and understand the area immediately around the problem that their product solves, and they've seen it countless times, they know how the buyer needs to buy.
It was fascinating to me that the author of the book was advocating that sellers should influence their internal coach to make sure the 'right' people showed up on the decision team, and to make sure they had the 'right' content to help them reach the 'right' decision.
THE FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS OF SELLERS Let's take a look at those assumptions.
First of all, you approach a buyer's problem as if it were an island that only interacts with those departments and solutions that immediately touch it.
This is a faulty assumption.
Like my clients with a large electronic banking solution who waited 2 years before their prospect figured out there was a union problem that had to be managed (and all the while my client was partnering with the CIO, CTO and CFO who helped them design a fabulous electronic solution) before they could buy.
There was no way my client would have known to ask about, or resolve, a union problem from his position as sales professional (or Partner, in this case).
You will never know how a problem got to be sitting there, awaiting a solution.
Next: your belief that you have control over the purchase and the decision team is arrogant.
You have control over one thing, and one thing only: your product.
Yes, you can tell that the buyer needs you.
Yes, it is obviousthat your product will solve the problem.
And, yes, you're 'consultant', 'relationship manager', and 'trusted advisor'; you 'care' about your customers; andwill 'only' sell your product to the buyers who 'need' it.
Oh...
one more thing: you certainly ask the 'right' questions so you know that the customer really needs your product.
Right.
But of course, those are just words; you're in the same position you've been in for decades, if not centuries.
You still close no more then 7% of your prospective sales.
If you really had the control you assume you have, you would have closed a lot more sales in a lot less time.
Your buyers don't need to buy your product.
Let me repeat that: your buyers don't need to buy your product.
They need to solve a business problem.
If your product is a part of their solution, then they'll buy it.
If they can fix the problem themselves with familiar resources, or design an easier solution, or design a solution that chooses one of our competitors for some unknown reason, they'll do it.
No matter how smart you are, how wonderous your product is, or how much they like you, buyers buy only when your product fits into their business solution.
One last thing: as an outsider you have no idea - no idea - what other areas of the company (or team, or family) were involved in creating and maintaining the problem, and what people or initiatives or rules or relationships are connected in some way with a solution.
If it's a software solution you have, maybe your buyer needs to address user groups who may need to learn new software.
Or HR directors for hiring issues, or the CIO who needs to ensure that new software will collaborate effectively with old software, or the architects who are working on moving people around so that they can work together, or the managers of the user groups who don't have the time or buy-in to learn new software, etc.
YOU HAVE A NEW JOB It's not about you.
It's not about your product.
And you don't have control.
Your job is not to sell.
It's to help your buyers recognize, align, and manage all of the internal criteria they need to address before they'll make a purchasing decision, so they will not createdisruption when something new enters their environment.
I have been teaching sellers to use the Buying Facilitation Method® for 15 years.
This Method gives sellers the tools to teach buyers how to manage their own buying environment.
It's not product specific, nor does it employ product pitches or presentations.
In fact, the process sits on the front end of sales as we've known it.
And once the buyer recognizes all of the elements that need to be managed before they'll design their solution (remember that they won't buy until they've come up with their own answers), then you can pitch and present your product.
Remember: all decisions need to go through some process of buy-in, and, unless it's a small personal item, will most likely include more than one decider.
But it'snot your decision as to who sits on that decision team.
It's your jobto lead them through all of the decision criteria they need to address.
Not YOUR decision criteria.
Theirs.
And remember that you can never know all of the elements that they need to account for in order to come to a final decision.
You've got a new job now; it's not to sell product anymore.
So stop selling, and teach your buyers how to buy: it will work 30% of the time, decrease your sales cycle by 50%, and make you a true trusted advisor.
The easiest way to get up to speed in Buying Facilitation is to read my latest book called Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions.
The book is now available in printed format for those of you who want us to create a hard copy for you.
Good luck.
It's time to evolve your job into something much bigger than selling product.
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