Your Test Results – Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective

Hundreds of loyal ‘the’ followers have done the selling with the Buyer’s Perspective test. Thank you. Now you are, of course, curious how well you did. Below you see once more the 25 statements that you were asked to score yourself against from 1 to 5.

1=Never True; 2=Rarely True; 3=Sometimes True; 4= Mostly True; 5=Always True

In the header of each statement, you see what the ideal score is. Then by clicking on the header, you will find further elaboration and suggestions on how to improve your score. I make this introduction short because there is already a lot to read. Good luck!

1. In conversations with customers, I am focused on making a sale and closing the deal (1).


This is probably the most challenging habit to change. We have been trained to focus on closing. We look for buying signals and jump to close the deal. And we have pressure to hit sales targets.


Instead of being self-focused -the need to close the deal- be other-focused. This requires top listening skills. Instead of pushing your agenda, you push your customer’s agenda. In conversations with customers, be more focused on understanding your customer’s business challenges and how you can help.

2. In my preparation, I focus on learning about the customer’s business challenges, industry trends, economic pressures and how I can help mitigate risk and capture opportunities (5).


Well done if you do this already well. Through this type of preparation, you will be seen as a valuable sparring partner for your stakeholder. They will appreciate your ideas and opinion.

LOWER SCORES are focusing in their preparation only on the IN-DO-OUT of the customer which is only basic information and not sufficient to be seen as a value creator.

3. On a regular basis, I check in with the customer, asking if they need something right now, if something has changed or if they have time to meet with me (1).


Although you need to be aware of what is going on with your customers and if you still deliver your promises. But nowadays sales tools should help you do that.


You will be perceived as a non-value creator by asking if they need something or if something has changed. Instead, you need to be the instigator of change. What trend can you share with your stakeholder that they should know about? If they do not take action now, what impact will that have on their business? What similar business challenges can you identify with other customers? What actions did they take? Were they successful? Wrap this into a story to share with your stakeholder. I am sure then he or she will make time to meet with you.

4. To discover what the customer needs, I lead the conversation by asking many situational questions (1)


Don’t forget that this is one of the main reasons why customers tell us we are wasting their time. They have heard these questions so many times – also from your competitor sales reps! – and are tired of answering them.


Of course, you need to ask questions, but it should no longer be your starting point in customer conversations. Instead of you discovering needs, you want the customer to discover something about themselves. Will their current set-up deliver the results they need to grow and make more profit? That is the discussion you want to have. Put your Business Acumen hat on.

5. To close deals, I focus on finding and speaking to the decision-maker as soon as possible (1)


In transactional situations, this makes absolute sense. But the more complex the business is, the more stakeholders you will have in the buying group.No longer are decisions made by one person. Instead, they will, in most cases, ask the opinion of the stakeholders involved.


Embrace a new habit, speaking to as many stakeholders as possible. First, understand where they are in their buying process; what is their opinion on achieving the company’s objectives? Then, one by one, you influence their views on what is best for the company until there is consensus that your business case is strong and makes sense. Then you are ready to get the significant decision-maker involved.

6. During conversations with prospects, I often focus on finding pain points and dissatisfaction with the incumbent competitor. Then I can link these needs to the solution I sell (1)


This approach falls often on deaf ears because to customers your services are perceived as similar to those of their current supplier. They may gain on one hand something with you but lose something else they like about their current set-up. Hence, customers prefer a fix over a change.


Instead, focus on their business challenges like growing their business at bigger profit margins. What is their current strategy to achieve that? What information may they have overlooked and would bring a different perspective to their chosen strategy? Are they focusing on the right business model? Can their objective be achieved in a different way? Share stories of similar customers who were in a similar situation. Motivate the customer to start thinking differently about how to achieve their business objectives and how you can help.

7. To influence the customer to make a change, I often lead with ‘competitor battle cards’ (to differentiate from the main competitor) (1)


Realize that this approach doesn’t work well unless your stakeholder really doesn’t know what you offer differently versus your competitors. But in most cases, your customer can find this all on the internet. You get yourself into a difficult situation and your offer becomes part of a spreadsheet where line by line services are compared. Often this leads to a pricing discussion.


Instead, acknowledge that the competitor you really are up against is within the customer’s organisation – and often you do not know who or what that is: The Hidden Competitor. Learn how to identify and overcome Hidden Competitors. This is a more effective way of influencing the customer to make a change.

8. In conversations with customers and prospects, my focus is on how I can contribute to new growth and better profits for the customer (5)


Well done if you do this already, really well. These types of conversations are interesting to stakeholders because these are the challenges they also focus on. Being more in their world and understanding their challenges makes you come across as someone they can trust.

LOWER SCORES focuses more on product, service, and solution discussions while not yet understanding what the customer is trying to achieve. Lift your sales acumen conversations to more business discussions.

9. In my preparation, I focus on learning what the customer does as a business. Often that is enough for me to start the meeting (1)


If you only know what a customer does as a business and have not prepared on what possible business challenges they may face then you most likely need to figure these challenges out by asking a lot of questions. And that is perceived by the customer as time-wasting


Customers nowadays expect more from salespeople. They expect you to come with information about the challenges they have not been thinking about or didn’t have access to. Instead of asking “what is keeping you awake at night”? you need to tell them what should keep them up all night!

10. To get an appointment, I share valuable information that justifies the stakeholders’ time to meet with me. I have an agenda worthwhile I share before the meeting (5)


Congratulations if you have moved on to this type of appointment making. Stakeholders would love to meet with you because you have valuable information to form a better understanding of their challenges and possible solutions. In exchange, they offer you their time.

LOWER SCORES focus too much on “selling” to get an appointment. The value you trade is to the customer not worthwhile meeting for. If you do not come with something new, interesting or insightful that s linked to their business challenges then why should they meet with you? Instead, figure out what agenda items your customer most likely discuss at their senior management meetings. and prepare yourself accordingly to how you can help.

11. To get an insight across to my stakeholders, I often share a story (5)


The best way to get insights across to your customers is by sharing a story. We all love stories and so do your customers. If you do this already well then keep doing it. Stories touch emotions and bring people into an imaginary world. often your insight gets a whole different meaning in the customer’s head and they fill in how your insight would work in their situation. They start to own your insight and that is exactly what you want.

LOWER SCORES mean that you do share insights but not enough through stories. Telling people something insightful has less impact than when it is told through a story. Work on this and you will see the difference.

12. I often lead meetings with who we are and the products, services and solutions I sell (1)


Be aware that your Customer is not as much in love with your company as you are. You need to go against your natural instincts which is not talking about you and your company until such a discussion is interesting to the Customer.


Share ideas and insights that can help your stakeholder to make sense out of the overwhelming amount of information available. Provide market-driven risks and opportunities. Help your stakeholder to see that their current set-up will not deliver the results they are looking for. Share the risks you see if they don’t change. Share stories about similar customers in similar situations. This way of leading meetings will get you more engagement right from the start.

13. Depending on where stakeholders are in their buying process, I share relevant insights and help them with identifying reasons to change from their current situation (5)


You are most effective in influencing customers when they discover something about themselves. And what they discover, through your challenging questioning but also through your insights is depending on where they are in the buying process. Why Change? Change to What? Change to Who? or Commit to Change. Well done if you are doing this already.

LOWER SCORES means often that you go too fast through the Why Change? and Cange to What? phases. They will only be interested to listen to your arguments about why they should change to your solution if they have -with your help – identified enough reasons to change from their current set-up.

14. More often than not, to differentiate from the competitors, I need to sell on price (1)


Although many salespeople say they do not sell on price, the reality is different. There are two negative effects when you sell on price. 1. The profitable margins for your company are slashed, which means the more salespeople do this the less profit will be available to invest back into the company. This means your company cannot improve their services, have no money available for capital investments, or resources and it will be a downwards spiral from thereon, attracting fewer Customers using your sevices.2. Customers who are keen to push you to the bone on price tend not to be so loyal after all. They will show much low you are willing to go to the incumbent competitor. Again a downwards spiral and nobody wins.


When you are pushed for a better price, you need to push yourself to create more value. Lift the conversation to a business level. What is the Customer trying to achieve? What is their strategy? How well is that going so far? What other ideas do you have to achieve these company objectives? Focus on finding more growth, acquiring new customers, lowering costs, improving profits. Any Customer would be interested in your ideas.

15. My conversations with customers are a lot on how we can do things different operationally (1)


True, the core of your solution is doing things differently operationally. But these tactical conversations are often of no interest to middle and senior management of your customer. They are tasked with more strategic challenges like building long term competitive advantages.


Starting on an operational level leads often to a good understanding of what goes well and what doesn’t in a company. I am sure people in charge on the floor have always a wish list of what can be improved. Although they are important stakeholders, they are not in charge of making drastic changes like changing suppliers. Once they like your suggestions, ask who else has an interest in the discussion you just had. You got to get yourself to middle and senior management level and share the risks you see of not changing and strategic opportunities to grab when making a supplier change.

16. My real competitor is within the customer’s organization. (5)


Absolutely! Although you have interest from some stakeholders to consider a change and discuss new criteria that need to be met, there are other stakeholders who will block such a change. And they have their specific reasons for that. The better you understand you have to deal with these Hidden Competitors, the more successful you will be.

LOWER SCORES focus too much on differentiating versus your direct industry competitor. Although this is important, these discussions should only take place if you have been able to motivate your stakeholders (including the Hidden Competitors) that a change is needed and what that would look like.

17. I often meet only with one or two stakeholders before I prepare a proposal. (1)


This may have worked in the past but with flatter organisational structures, the decision-making process and number of people involved has changed. Nowadays buying groups are making decisions together.


Your challenge is to meet with many stakeholders and build consensus that their current setup will not deliver the results they are looking for. gaining consensus is the new closing.

18. When discussing a proposal I talk mainly about features, advantages and benefits and why we are different from the competitor (1)

Not all stakeholders in the buying group are requested to review all the details of a proposal. be aware that senior management immediately looks at the business acumen part of what is offered. They will ask themselves, will a change help them strategically advance? So, it makes sense to start and emphasize this at the beginning of your proposal and in your discussions.


Start with the reason why you would like the customer to consider a change. This is all about their business, their objectives, the risk of not changing and business opportunities to grab when changing. Emphasize the discussions you have had with several key stakeholders and their consensus on the change needed and what the change should look like. Your business case should be strong and for senior management, the ROI should make sense.

19. In each stage of the buying process, I know what I would like the stakeholder to discover, how to go about that and what commitments I would like to hear from them. (5)


This approach is new to many salespeople but super effective. You do not lead with products or solutions. Instead, in your preparation, you understand the business challenges and come up with ideas and insights that shine a different perspective on the customer’s challenges. It is the customer who discovers together with you why they should change and what that change needs to look like.

LOWE SCORES indicate you focus still too much on yourself, your company and what you like to achieve in a meeting. Flip the discovery on its head – let the customer discover something they did not know. Eg. Missing out on growth opportunities or occurring costs that can be avoided. Make it a business discussion. Use your business acumen.

20. In my meetings with the customer’s middle and senior managers, I share ideas and insights on how the customer can advance strategically over their competitors. (5)


The higher your score, the better you use your business acumen to drive the meetings with middle and senior stakeholders. Your ideas and insights are about how you think they can achieve their business objectives better and that. These discussions trigger questions and reflection on whether their current setup can deliver the results they are looking for. The customer discovers something about themselves and drives further interest into a business case for change.

LOWER SCORES indicates that you focus too much on the features, advantages and benefits of your solutions. Be aware that stakeholders can look these up on the website or form their opinion about your solutions from social media and external peer groups. Lift the conversation to a business and strategic level. then you create their interest for further discussions.

21. I often share with my prospects that sticking with their status quo will not deliver the results they are looking for. (5)


Linking business performance results to solutions has always been influential in selling. However, the discussion on risks you see for customers and prospects of not changing is often missing. The higher your score here, the better you have adapted to think like a stakeholder and their business challenges. Before you talk about solutions, you first discuss if the status quo will deliver the results they are looking for.

LOWER SCORES indicates you are hesitant to ask your customer this question. Feel more confident that a change would benefit your customer strategically – then this question will open a proper business discussion. Bring your business acumen skills.

22. I meet with multiple stakeholders to understand where they are in the buying process and how I can influence their perspectives. (5)


High scores mean that you understand that decisions are no longer taken by one or two people. Multiple stakeholders are involved and form a buying group. You want to know where they are in the buying process and their views on how their company should grow further, improve profits and avoid unforeseen risks. You influence by having these types of business discussions and sharing new information that shines a different perspective on their challenges.

LOWER SCORES indicate you met only a few stakeholders per customer. Realize that there are more stakeholders to influence. Often they are a Hidden Competitor and stall proposals for their own reason.

23. My sales acumen drives the majority of the meetings I have with customers about change. (1)


Business acumen supersedes sales acumen in the new way of selling. You will not get the attention of buyers to seriously look at a change by better sales acumen. They have heard all the sales pitches before and actually, your solution is not so much different from your competitor.


You need to move on from Solution selling as the main focus of your meetings. Salespeople often say they are very customer-centric. But are you really? Do you have your or their objectives in mind? Improve by understanding their business challenges and bringing new perspectives. Will their current setup deliver the results they are looking for?

24. I never sell on price. I know that gaining consensus is the new closing. (5)


This is probably one of the hardest new habits that salespeople need to adopt. if you score well here then you understand that you need to create value, like never before. In your conversations you let the customer discover new perspectives about their challenges and their status quo. You meet with multiple stakeholders and find common business goals. Gaining consensus is the new closing.

LOWER SCORES indicate you are dealing too often in Change to Who? conversations. In your next meetings share insights and stories about how you think you can help customers with achieving their business goals. These are conversations about Why Change?

25. My business acumen drives the majority of the meetings I have with customers about change (5)


If you score well here then you understand the concept of the new way of selling. There is a whole world of business conversations you need to have before you can sell any solution.

LOWER SCORES indicate you focus too much on improving your sales acumen and the way you sell your solutions. Improve by first understanding where your stakeholders are in their buying process and if they are in Why Change? then you know you need to come up with insights and ideas relevant to their business challenges to create at least interest to explore a change.

The closer you score to 73 means you have adapted well to the new way of selling. If your score is far away from that, spend time reviewing where you scored not so well and how you can improve. Changing habits is difficult. Not changing is risky. Discuss your score with your manager and discuss your action plan. I hope you have found this helpful in your transformation to become a Trusted Advisor and Sell with the Buyer’s Perspective.

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