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Sales Is Simple, Buying Isn’t!

by David Brock on August 8th, 2019

I succumbed to a certain amount of narcissism (as I often do) in my post: Sales Is Simple, Simple Is Not Easy.

The problem with my post, as accurate as it may have been, is that I did what too many of us do, focusing on ourselves–sales people, sales leaders, and selling.

We all do that, we focus on what we do. We get into conversations about how we do what we do better. I don’t want to dismiss those conversations, they are important. But starting with what we do is the wrong starting point.

We always have to start with the Buyer.

Buying, more accurately, what our buyers face isn’t simple. In fact, every piece of research indicates buyers, customers, are overwhelmed with complexity.

They are overwhelmed by the rate of change, the volume of information/data, risk, the increasing complexity of getting things done within their own organizations, ambiguity, conflict, increasing competition, disruption, and transformation. They are distracted, confused, overworked, under-resourced. They struggle with coping.

The data on buying, as well as the data on internal problem solving success (buying is just a component of the problem/opportunity solving process), demonstrates this struggle. Gartner data has shown 53% of all buying journey’s end in no decision made. The primary reasons for this failure has nothing to do with vendor/solution selection. For those that struggle with buying, Gartner research shows huge amounts of buyer remorse with the quality of those decisions.

Separate data on company project success shows similar challenges with the majority of internal projects failing to achieve their objectives.

Gartner data, also, shows this struggle isn’t because of the lack of high quality information and content from suppliers. In fact, buyers are, increasingly, overwhelmed with high quality information from suppliers.

Our buyers are struggling with complexity and coping.

And that’s the challenge we sales professionals must focus on–both to help and create value for our customers, and in achieving our own goals.

The discussion on sales being simple and what we need to do to execute at a higher level is the wrong starting point. But if we focus on simplification in sales/selling, we don’t address what our customers face, and what stands in the way of our ability to sell.

Sensemaking, helping our customers understand and deal with the complexity they face, individually and organizationally, needs to be the center of our focus. Ironically, in doing this, we will continue to simplify what it means to sell.

Stated differently, we can no longer focus our questions on how to sell, we have to focus our conversations on our customers and how to help them understand, make sense of what they face, and buy. Only through understanding that, can we begin to discover how to sell.

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