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Buying Is About People, Why Isn’t Selling?

by David Brock on March 9th, 2020

Buying is about people. They are part of organizations and teams. They are united in achieving a goal. Whether it’s to address a new opportunity, solve a problem, learn and grow; a buying group works together to achieve a goal.

The buying process is messy, a characteristic of intensely human interaction. The research tells us this with data about how many buying efforts end in no decision made. We map the buying process, ending up with something that resembles Gartner’s famous “spaghetti” charts.

The buying group has to deal with and align the priorities and agendas of each person involved, as well as those loosely involved. They argue, change direction, start/stop.

Buying can be confusing–both in managing the internal buying process, but in, also, in assessing the alternative solutions. They are confronted with confusing information, conflicting data, sales people trying to be “helpful,” yet who seem more interested in their own goals than the buyers.’

Buying is personal. There is the risk/consequences of failing. Failure could mean not achieving goals important to the person. It could mean losing opportunities. It could mean losing a job. People stake hopes, dreams, aspirations to buying.

Buyers struggle to make sense of all they face. They seek confidence in the decisions they make. Sensemaking and decision confidence operates both at a group and individual level.

Ironically, while buying is getting more personal–more about people relating to people, selling seems to be, increasingly, less so.

Relationships were fundamental to sales and selling in distant times. Not those superficial relationships (backslapping, jokes, lunches, golf games), but those relationships where sales people understood the customer, organizationally and individually.

Rather than looking at building deep relationships, helping our customers achieve their dreams and goals, the focus of sellers seems to be going the opposite direction.

Sellers focus more and more on volumes–more contacts, more outreach, more leads. They focus on their own efficiency, automating and mechanizing as much of their work as possible.

Specialization prevails as customers are moved from sales specialist to sales specialist, passing along the optimized sales assembly line.

Customers become targets for POs rather than people–individuals–to help and for whom we create unique value.

However, great sales people continue to recognize that buying and, consequently, selling is about people, consequently, about high impact relationships.

Great sales people leverage the vacuum created by customers struggling to make sense, create meaning, and to build confidence in an increasingly uncertain world.

Buying is about people, great selling is too!

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One Comment
  1. Joel Lyles permalink

    To me, the root cause (like so many other problems I see in modern sales) seems to be the declining tenure of sales jobs.

    Relationships, meaningful ones, take time. If you the seller can’t have the time, then you have no choice but to disintermediate the human connection between buyer and seller. When a sales rep leaves the organization, so goes those relationships. While we have a rich suite of sales tools that can make up for the loss of institutional knowledge and training and even salesmanship savvy, nothing can replace that human connection. Hence the push for stronger brands (they won’t leave the company so easily), more support from inside sales and marketing, and more automation.

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