Recently I put my instructor hat back on and did a six-week international tour spanning four continents. I was expecting there would be some completely different selling environments than I’m used to in the USA and while that did happen to a degree, I was far more shocked by how similar they are.
One of the things I have heard at least 2,549 times (yes, I do keep count) is, “This is all great Ray but our buyers lie to us. It’s different here.”
Really? If I were to believe the words of the sellers I’ve consulted worldwide, it would appear buyers are no good dirty rotten scoundrels waiting for the opportunity to waste their time. The scene would look something like this:
(Buyer is thinking to himself, rubbing his hands together doing his best Dr. Evil impersonation.)
Buyer: Riiiiiiight. SOOoooo… I think today I will have the seller come in, spend an hour of their time to tell me all about himself and his organization while I pretend to listen. Then, when he asks me questions about MY organization, I will TOTALLY lie to his face. I will make up the biggest lies especially if his product could help me reach my goals!
That’s how it happens, right? Not normally. Now, I’m not telling you buyers won’t lie to you. I’m also not saying our process will ensure that will never happen. What I am saying is it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you may think, or for the reasons you may think they behave this way. Buyers don’t lie to you more often than any other normal person does. As a matter of fact, they don’t lie that much at all if ever. What they are doing is responding to very badly worded questions. What sellers then do is infer or try to interpret way too much from the answers buyers give, later discover the inference was incorrect, and then blame it on the buyer.
For example, you may have seen a sales rep (I have to say you “may have seen” because you’ve never done it of course) ask a question like these:
- “Do we have the solution you like?”
- “If we do this, will you do that?”
- “If we can meet your needs do we have a basis for doing business together?”
- “Does this look like it will meet your needs?”
Other than the second question listed above (which no buyer can realistically answer at this point in the sales process anyway), a buyer can, in complete and absolute honesty answer YES to every one of them and still have no intention of buying from you. The problem is not that they lie or mislead you. The real problem the right questions are not being asked.
This all goes back to the fact that most sellers are trying to sell something rather than help the buyer make the best buying decision possible. We’ve trained the buyers of the world that sellers not really interested in their business, they just want them to hear our product dump and say, “YES.” Unfortunately, that works just enough for you to make a sale and the sales profession to get a black eye when it turns out it wasn’t the best decision they could have made and they now don’t trust you.
You need focus on the customer. Specifically you need focus on what the customer is focused on. That may or may not be the problems and solutions you’ve got your eye on. But one thing is certain. Whatever your customer is focused on, it is not — I repeat not– your products or solutions.