People Still Buy People First – Don’t They?

People Still Buy People First – Don’t They?:

from Jonathan Farrington's Blog 

There is a saying which has been around for as long as I can remember – and that is a pretty long time – “People buy people first”
What that essentially means of course is before buyers thought about your solution, they needed to be sold on you personally.
So has that all changed now?
Well, yes and no.
Recently I suggested that “Unless you are selling commodities, when they first encounter you, buyers really don’t care about you, your company or your products. They care even less about your past successes, your awards or your client base. They only care about what you, your company and your products can do for THEM!” And I firmly believe this to be the case.
What has happened/is happening is that selling has become de-personalized.
As buyers enter the buying/selling cycle much further up the chain, they already know everything about your products/solutions/company. As a consequence sales success today demands a radical shift from the ‘peddler’ mentality of merely demonstrating products and expanding on their features. It requires treating the customer as a participant. More often than not, a ‘flashy’ sales presentation alone alienates, rather than persuades.
Outstanding sales results today depend on:
• The ability to think from the customer’s point of view
• Understanding the customer’s agenda, buying cycle and best interests
• Beyond a superficial reading of immediate customer needs, salespeople must gain a deeper understanding of both the buyer’s long-term goals and the overall business climate
• Today, the salesperson who clings to the product orientation of a decade ago can expect to become extinct within five years.
• As client companies branch into new markets and unfamiliar territories, they are demanding unique, flexible solutions from their vendors – customized to support specific goals
• Another myth which can be exploded is that customers value flexibility: In fact being too flexible (nice!) can undermine the sales relationship.
Now, the best salespeople have become “facilitators” They understand that unless they are bringing something unique to the table, they have no value. However, in most industries, differentiation is becoming far harder to prove – the playing fields are now very level in terms of price/performance/support etc.
So why are the top 10% of sales professionals going to survive and thrive? What do they do/have that differentiates them? In a word, “Knowledge”
They understand that personality is no longer relevant at the front-end of the sales cycle, but it is their superior knowledge of their industry/sector/company/products/self.
They have commercial acumen. They can read and interpret financial balance sheets.
One of the first questions they ask is “So, please tell me what your short/medium and long-term commercial objectives are” and they then quickly establish if their solutions can help the prospect achieve any of those objectives.
They have a reasonable intellectual capacity: For example, they understand what is happening with the economy, and how/why it is affecting their industry – this in turn helps them to see their prospect’s challenges through their prospect’s eyes.
So yes, people do still buy people first, but the rules of engagement have changed for ever!
What effect does this have on “relationship selling?” It means that you have to sell first – prove yourself first – before you can hope to develop a relationship.
Leading with the notion that you can build any sort of relationship from the outset is hopelessly out of touch – but that is precisely what around 90% of front-line sales professionals are still trying to do.
But be assured “relationship selling” is alive and well, and reports of its death have been wildy exaggerated.

If you are responsible for managing sales people, and you have not signed up for Wednesday’s TSW Sales Academy preview session, it can only be for one of three reasons:
a) You didn’t know about it – well you do now!
b) You are already committed, so you cannot make it – no problem, sign up and we’ll send you a recording
c) You already know everything there is to know about succeeding in a frontline sales management role, so it will be a complete waste of your time – well I have been managing salespeople for forty years, and I feel certain that I still have so much to learn, so I am guessing you do too.
Do please book your seat here and I look forward to welcoming you to this very unique event.
PS: It was our original intent to charge $99 for the entire level of 10 modules – not any more. We have secured adequate sponsorship so the Academy is now completely FREE

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