It was a sunny day. Blue sky like you only see in postcards. On my way to a prospect that I received from the lead generation team, I stopped at a pedestrian crossing. When the weather was this good, people automatically looked happier. I parked my car at the visitor’s spot not far from the reception area. I felt that nothing could go wrong in the meeting coming up. I was extremely happy, confident and convinced I had a fair chance of winning another deal. But my self-assured attitude turned dark when the first clouds appeared through the window, behind the desk where my prospect sat, as she spoke the words: Tomaetoes, Tomaatoes. It never occurred to me that customers often perceived us as a commodity until the day I heard these words coming out of this prospect’s mouth.
It was a wake-up call as if I had been struck by lightning. What was I thinking? The solution I proposed to the prospect was, from her point of view, not much different to the service she received from the incumbent competitor. She said: “I may get some benefit from your service at one end, but I lose out on something I like very much from your competitor on the other end. To me you are all the same – tomatoes, tomatoes”. So I left the building without any new contract, but a lot wiser.
Fast forward to the present day, I observe that, despite evidential research from Gartner, MacKenzie and Forrester, to name a few, many salespeople are still caught in selling from the seller’s perspective. They still believe that solution selling is setting them apart from the competition. They are convinced they will move their prospects out of their status quo by positioning their solution’s advantages and benefits because they really believe they have the better value proposition. That is until the buying team says: “Thank you, we’ll be in touch”; A variance of my tomaetoes, tomaatoes many years ago.
The world has changed, and so have the buyers. They expect different insights from you than your solutions and PowerPoint presentations covered with your logos on every slide.
Here is the thing; I predict you will be out of your job soon if you don’t start selling with the buyer’s perspective. The only way to get the interest of potential buyers is by having a good understanding of their business challenges and share insights that bring different perspectives to these challenges. These can be tactical but are often related to their strategic intent. Through your insights and ideas, they realize that you have the information they did not know or did not pay enough attention to. Your stories of how you have helped similar customers in similar situations trigger their doubt of having the right strategy in place. And if they don’t, they wonder what risks they are up against by not making changes. Without a doubt, some of the stakeholders in the buying group will argue because there is now another piece of information on the table – which at times contradict their previous intent. In selling with the buyer’s perspective you are able to help them to decide on what makes sense. You drive consensus and gain their commitment to explore what a better future looks like.
I hope this is your wake-up call. Remember; tomaetoes, tomaatoes.
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