Aligning your selling with the prospects buying process

Response to “How B2B Social Sellers Align With Their Buyers – fm SmartBrief Online

I have been an advocate for years that what governs our selling is not our sales process but rather the customer’s buying process. I reviewed this article “How B2B Social Sellers Align With Their Buying Process” by Dan Bernoske in SmartBrief Online and believe he is giving some good advice. Here is the link to the article: I also feel that he is missing a couple of critical points.

Dan suggests in the article that Social Selling is what gets the rep through the door, but once in front of the prospect, they must align themselves with the prospect’s buying process. He presents a fundamental eight-stage customer buying process and discusses the importance of aligning your selling activities with each step of the customer’s buying process. If you are misaligned, then you risk putting off the buyer and losing the sales opportunity.

Here are some additional suggestions over and above those presented in Dan’s article. First, I look at the buying process as six steps and not eight. They are:
1. Problem Identification – do I even have a problem that needs to be solved?
2. Business Impact – if I have a problem, what is it costing my business, department, or me?
3. Gain Financial Commitment – if the problem needs solving, I need to get funding – from where?
4. Evaluate alternatives – build the process for evaluating and selecting a solution
5. Conduct the evaluation – utilize your process to evaluate your choices
6. Select solution and buy – select the solution approach that will give you the desired business return and solve the problem

The next suggestion I have is built on the Discovery process for each of these buying stages. I work with my clients to help them define the most critical information we want the sales rep to Discover as a part of their sales activities. Each buying stage offers its own unique activities that, if the sales rep is successful, will move that buyer along the buying process. Their success in this area has a direct bearing on their sales forecast accuracy as well. Knowing what to Discover and when is critical. Once you have developed the key information you want to Discover at each buying stage, you can then formulate the selling activities that must take place.

Dan brings out a couple of points that I absolutely agree with. The first is that buyers don’t care about your product. They care about the RESULTS you can produce for them. Can you solve their problem? Next, he stresses the importance of listening. I would add one caveat to this statement. How well you listen and how much good information you get is based on preparing a good set of Discovery Questions for each meeting you have with your prospect.

My final point would be to learn how to Lose Early. With a focus on the buying process and a good Discovery approach, you should be able to determine quickly whether the buyer is serious about solving the business problem or if they are just looking for additional information. Help your sales reps learn how to sell to the prospect’s buying process and you will improve your sales growth.

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