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Make Buying Easier!

by David Brock on February 22nd, 2017

As sales people, we want to make it easy for our customers to buy.  We have endless amounts of data sheets, cases studies, presentations, and information about our products.  We seek to be super responsive to our customers informational needs, immediately burying them with information, conducting endless demos to respond to their questions.

Marketing helps us, both with the content and making vast arrays of information available through multiple digital and non-digital channels.  They leverage SEO, online advertising, drip campaigns and any number of techniques to make it easier for prospects and customers to find information about our products and services.

We even provide buying tools–configurators, shopping carts, and others to help make it easier for our customers to execute the buying transaction.

All done with the goal of making it easier for the customer to learn about and buy from us!

Ironically, all of this actually doesn’t make buying easier!

In a new HBR article, The New Sales Imperative, the folks at CEB

First, these activities focus on the vendor/solution selection process.  This is actually a very small part of the work customers are going through. in their buying/problem solving journey.

In fact, based on the CEB research, we are only making the easiest part of buying easier—but doing little to help them with the parts of buying that too often derail buying processes, resulting in No Decision Made!

Unless our customers are buying these solutions every day, they struggle with knowing how to buy, not what to buy.

They struggle with aligning the 6.8 + people involved in the buying process–each has different priorities and agendas.

They struggle with defining what they want to achieve, what should they be looking for, why?  They struggle with defining risks, understanding and evaluating alternative approaches, gaining internal and management support, building business justification.

More importantly, “buying” is usually just a small part of what they are doing–fundamentally, they are trying to solve business problems or address new opportunities.  These usually are far more profound, buying becomes just one component of their overall problem solving process.  This “Customer Problem Solving Journey,” is far more difficult than just the buying portion of that journey.

As the article by CEB points out, if we want to make it easier to for our customers to buy, we have to focus less on product selection but more in their buying process (and problem solving process.)

While our customers struggle with this, since they don’t buy every day, we are expert at that process, afterall, we are involved in countless similar deals.  We have worked with customers addressing these issues in the past.  We have great experience in helping them learn, what they should be doing, why, what they should be asking themselves, how they can start aligning goals/priorities, how they gain management support.

We can provide them road maps to help them be more successful with their efforts.  We can become “prescriptive,” by helping them learn from the experience of others who have gone down this path before.

We create the most value for our customers when we work with them to make the entire buying process easier, not just focusing on product selection.  We create even more value when we focus on their entire problem, not just the buying component of that problem.

Make sure you read, The New Sales Imperative, it will help you broaden your perspectives and create greater value for your customers.

 

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5 Comments
  1. Haha David; great post! I’m chuckling because I just read the CEB article this morning and made notes for writing a post about it, much of which you’ve aptly described here. Glad you’re giving this issue the exposure it deserves. Maybe I’ll still write a post 😉

  2. David, so many great points and insights I can’t mention all of them! Every salesperson needs to know and take to heart what you recommend.

  3. Very valid David.
    When I used to sell imported goods B2B I used the “make it easy to buy” concept to retain the clients I had.
    I figured if it was drop dead easy to buy from me why would anyone change ? And it worked very well.
    How did I apply that.
    Well, we sold imported products and for us in Australia that meant a couple of things; a long lead time from Europe or the USA (6-12 weeks) and dealing with the variance of exchange rates.
    I used to keep a very close eye on my clients consumption and alert them if they were in danger of running out in say 8 weeks time. (We worked mostly on 6 month contracts). They appreciated the advice and it got me many an order before my opposition even knew what was happening.
    Likewise with exchange rates. If they moved improved significantly I would contact the client and tell them if they bought today they could buy at a lower price than their last contract. If rates were mowing up I’d alert the prospect to buy quickly before the exchange rate pushed their raw material price up too much.

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