In order to align with your buyers and their buying process, the seller must first understand the buyer's process and then continually gauge where the buyer is. To align with your buyers:
- Check the buyer’s awareness level before jumping into a sales presentation so as not to bore the buyer with information that is already known nor to skip over critical information the buyer will need to develop interest.
- Gather information about the buyer in order to present relevant product details that will stimulate keen interest.
- Create and magnify desire by focusing on the product features which are of the highest interest to the buyer, linking them to needs and values and priorities for this unique buyer at this moment in time.
- Notice buying signals that are expressions of desire signaling an intent to take action and move in tandem with the buyer toward a close.
Sellers who are caught up in their own sales process frequently fail to stay aligned in these fundamental ways. Asking questions will slow the seller down just enough to monitor where the buyer is in his or her own process.
To align with customer buying cycle stages, avoid the following:
More often than not, misalignment occurs when sellers focus on the buyer’s final step, action. Training that emphasizes techniques like “ABC – Always Be Closing” forces a seller to get ahead of the buyer. When a buyer feels pressured due to premature closing attempts, the buyer’s interest will wane. Left with only awareness and annoyance, the buyer may abandon the purchase altogether.
In their eagerness to close sales, sellers may also misinterpret mild or casual interest for desire. The buyer who is interested will ask non-committal questions or may make vague statements about the product. By contrast, a buyer who has developed desire for a product will ask much more specific questions and will make statements that are quite detailed about how he or she would use a product.
Notice the differences in the kinds of questions and statements offered here as examples to contrast what an interested buyer would say vs. what a buyer with desire would say. The seller who recognizes these subtle differences in live time during a sales call will stay aligned with the buyer.
Listening closely to word choice and asking questions to confirm will prevent a seller from rushing a buyer. The seller who is aligned gives the buyer a feeling of being understood and respected.
To advance the sale smoothly, a seller must track the buyer’s progression through the buyer’s process. Misalignment results in severed connections, breaches of trust and lost sales. Never let your sales process override your buyer’s process.
To align with your buyers, focus first on your buyers.
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Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author and Top 50 Sales Influencer, is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach.