No More “Buyer Beware”: Sales in Today’s “Seller Beware” World

No More “Buyer Beware”: Sales in Today’s “Seller Beware” World

At the 2019 SIA Executive Forum, best-selling author and top business thinker Daniel Pink offered his insight on sales in his presentation To Sell is Human: The New ABCs of Moving Others. The ABCs of selling used to be “Always Be Closing,” but Pink explains that to be successful with today’s buyers, those ABCs are no longer persuasive.

Today’s buyers have instant information available to them whenever they want it in the form of their smartphones or tablets and access to the Internet. There they can easily look up information about you (and your competitors), so they’re coming to the sales process more informed than ever before. It’s no longer a “Buyer Beware” world. As a salesperson (and like it or not, we’re all in sales), how do you meet the needs of today’s buyer?   

Pink started his presentation by asking the audience to think of the first word that comes to mind when you think of sales or selling. The responses were alarming: sleazy, slimy, annoying, pushy, difficult, hard, yuck, dishonest, challenging, boring, fake, necessary, and aggressive (to name just a few). You’ll notice none of these adjectives are positive. So how do we work to change that?

It used to be that sellers had all the information and shared that with potential buyers – thus the “Buyer Beware” mentality that put the onus on the buyer to determine what was accurate. But with the wealth of information available to buyers today, that information gap between buyers and sellers has shrunk.

With that shift comes a change in how sellers must interact with potential buyers. “Always Be Closing” is no longer relevant. There are new selling ABCs to learn: Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.

Attunement means understanding where the buyer is in terms of their understanding. This requires a shift in your perspective and getting out of your own head to see the buyer’s point of view. From there you can attempt to find common ground.

Buoyancy means handling rejection and staying afloat. We may not always find the common ground right away, but we have to keep trying if we want to be successful.

Clarity involves helping buyers make sense of the information they have. Before, as sellers we would help buyers access information in terms of providing them the information we felt they needed to make a decision. In today’s marketplace, buyers have a vast array of information already available to them, but they need help curating that information to understand it better.

We have found this to be a large part of what we do as we speak with staffing company owners. Our process involves trying to understand what they know or believe to be true, and then educate them on any misunderstandings or misinformation. Let’s face it – there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it can be hard to know who or what to believe.

It’s a common thought that to be in sales you need to be an extrovert – outgoing, unafraid to speak with anyone, and have unbounded energy. But that’s not really the case. Sellers who are successful in today’s market are actually ambiverts: they are chameleons who match their selling to the personality of the buyer. The challenge is removing our own perspectives from the process and putting ourselves in our buyer’s shoes to gain an understanding of where they’re coming from.

But how do we do this? You first have to understand how you look at things. At TRICOM, we’ve been using the free online personality tool 16personalities.com. At this website, the user can take a quick, 10-minute personality test to get what they describe as a “freakishly accurate” description of who you are, why you do things, your strengths and your weaknesses. There are other sites that offer these services as well, but we found this to be quick and generally very accurate.

Beyond understanding your own personality and what drives you, it helps you to better understand others, and what drives, inspires, or worries them. From there, you can get a better understanding of their perspective and how they do things or process information. Once you know that, you are able to build more meaningful connections because you’re better able to meet them where they’re at in terms of their perspectives and needs.

We’ve encouraged all our management and sales staff to use this tool, not only to help with our sales process, but also to improve our own company culture and relationships. Everyone benefits when we work to understand one another, our strengths, and our weaknesses.

As we meet new prospects and buyers, gain an understanding of their perspectives and the information they have, and then discover common ground, we go from being problem solvers to being problem finders. Our relationships develop into ones based on understanding and eventually trust. Aren’t those the types of sales relationships we all strive for?

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