I was interviewed last week as part of a research project by Gartner. They recognized our sales transformation program, “Sell Like Never Before”, as an industry-leading initiative; hence, they were curious about the changes we have seen with salespeople and buyers.
One of the questions Gartner asked me was: “What has changed in the customer conversation”? Well, of course, selling with the Buyer’s perspective has changed many things for the Seller and the Buyer, but the change I emphasized was that in the new way of selling, the salesperson talks more in comparison to the way we sold before. This is in contradiction to what we were taught in the past. Shouldn’t the salesperson do less of the talking than the Buyer? I believe we even had KPIs of a 20 to 80% ratio.
During the buying journey, companies that deliver a great buying experience grow twice as fast as those that deliver average experiences.Gartner, 2019
Buying Experience as a Differentiator
With the above quote from Gartner in mind, it is the customer conversation where a salesperson can make a difference. In the new way of selling, the customer conversation needs to be a better experience from the Buyer’s Perspective. What is this depending on, you might ask?
This experience varies depending on the quality of the information the Buyer will consume during the process. Most buyers are hungry consumers of information and view it as the currency of the buying experience. Put yourself in the Buyer’s shoes: They won’t receive that experience when salespeople keep asking question after question, which many of them should have known the answer to. When the Buyer only answers questions, how can they have a great experience?
As a Buyer, what do you want when you are hungry for information? Exactly, receiving information, not giving. They want you to tell them something they don’t know. Something that shines a different perspective on their challenges. They are hungry for insightful stories about other customers in similar situations. Did they face the same issues? How did they overcome these? What can they learn from you?
The Buyer won’t get this WOW experience when continually answering your questions. Selling is helping. They want to know your opinion on how you can help. In a perfect dialogue, the Buyer and the Seller talk each 50%. So, the balance is not anymore 20-80%. Trusted Advisors talk more.
Note to Sales Managers: When observing your sales teams, coach them to find this new balance.