We speak about becoming buyer-centric but lose sight of the need to become aware of the buyer perspective — buyer-centricity misses the mark.
How does buyer-centricity miss the mark?
When we simply put the buyer at the center of our work, a few things happen:
- We risk appearing disingenuous. Our goal is to make a quota; our buyer’s goal is to solve a problem.
- We chase after the buyer’s solution versus understanding their challenge and presenting the right solution based on our understanding of the market, use case, and solutions.
Unfortunately, buyer-centricity appears to be a good thing on the surface, but when you look one level below the surface, you start exposing the weaknesses in the viewpoint.
We’ll go into that next, and then we will move on to discussing various buyer feedback loops to leverage in your quest to understand the buyer perspective.
What is the buyer perspective, and why is it better than being buyer-centric?
First, let’s be clear that there is no perfect model — there are simply levels of awareness.
We can only understand the buyer’s perspective if we completely understand the challenges. This understanding requires us to:
- Ignore the products and solutions we sell.
- Identify every member of the buying committee (both those on it and those the buyer should include).
- Understand the other business changes required if the buyer chooses your solution.
- Recognize the personal risk the buyers are taking to choose your product or solution.
So, while a buyer-centric may lead us to miss key aspects, taking the buyer’s perspective can help.
Let’s spend a little time digging into the above areas.
Ignore the products and solutions we sell.
At the earliest stages of discovery, either you can put yourself into a mental box limited by your knowledge of your solutions, or you can open your consultative spirit and look for the best answer.
What are the benefits of taking the buyer perspective and stepping out of your box?
You have the opportunity to solve higher-value challenges — which often means larger deal sizes.
The buying committee
You already know that, in most deals, there are multiple stakeholders involved in the process of buying a solution.
Unfortunately, in too many deals:
- We do not know who is involved and their stated and unstated needs.
- We do not know who should have been included. These are the people who show up at the last minute, blowing up your deal and leaving it in a no-decision state.
Your sales efforts must be consultative to uncover all participants. In doing so, you are helping your buyer navigate their internal teams and processes, acting as a trusted advisor, positioning yourself to be the leading vendor, and avoiding deal stalls.
And that leads us to the whole business impact of buying your product or solution.
The full business impact
What happens when your buyer purchases your offering?
Look at it from the buyer’s perspective.
- Do they have to create a project team?
- Run through a formal budget process that requires them to track expenses as you go?
- Do they have regular reports to make to senior leaders?
- Do they have to request other teams to get support to push out software, train teams on how to use it, and so forth?
There is often a longer list than above — how will working with you simplify their lives?
Is this purchase big enough that it could be a career-maker or breaker?
Did they have to make side deals with other leaders to get support?
Are you aware of these details, and are you reducing their risk?
Let’s Explore Buyer Feedback Loops
I recently spoked about the following buyer feedback loops — let me share that here.
Why don’t we teach our sellers how to be consultative?
We talk about becoming trusted advisors, but we train for sales combat instead.
You learn to handle objections, lay traps, and paint pictures of the ideal state in sales.
How many of us teach reps to understand the champion’s challenges using a consultative approach?
We often bring in analysts, thought leaders, and customers into our sales kickoff meetings, but do we take time to understand the market and their needs deeply?
We mostly listen for hacks, tips, and tricks to destroy the competition and close the deal.
Use this buyer feedback loop to dig into the world from our buyer’s perspective.
Do you have a consulting arm of your business?
Are you using them to teach your customer-facing teammates to consult instead of only selling?
Do you create Mutual Action Plans for every deal?
Some set percentage of deals?
This buyer feedback loop will make it clear:
- How does the buying process actually work for this prospect?
- Who is involved, and for what purpose?
- Are there approved vendor lists to join, security hurdles to jump through?
- Have we ever sold to this company before? What do we already know?
- Have we ever worked with any members of the buying committee? Do we know how they operate and what they expect?
The win-loss analysis is a critical buyer feedback loop that you have seen me write about in the past.
Plan and execute changes based upon lessons learned.
Measure the impact.
Rinse and repeat.
There are no silver bullets in our effort to be better sellers.
However, we know that the status quo leads to consistently sub-par performance.
Are you willing to take a new approach?