All the pundits tell us that in “today’s economy”, buyers are just too busy to deal with anything unless they deem it to be critical to their success. This is why many sellers have difficulty getting through, they fail to penetrate the “prove value to me” wall erected by prospects, and in effect they fail the BS test. So if one does get through, it should not only be recognized, but should at the very least begin a real exchange about the buyers objectives and how the seller is in a position to advance or help the prospect achieve them. But as it turns out, this is not always the case.
It seems that in many instances, buyers and sellers enter a game of “Sales Hide and Seek”, rather than a real business discussion, taking an ambiguous and unproductive approach rather than a direct discussion of the issues and potential answers. Both parties are guilty, and both pay the price by extending the sales cycle, costing time, money and opportunity. The buyer takes longer to implement the solution, at times the wrong solution, taking longer to realize the benefits delivered. Sellers extend their cycle and limit their opportunity to sell and engage with more buyers or other real buyers. Even as the buyer becomes a customer, they are impacted by the company spending more money and resources to selling than to R&D and product improvement which directly impacts the customer base.
Sellers are told to go for relationships rather than dealing directly with issues, trying too hard to be genteel, rather than provoking, and getting to the root of the issue. Winning the buyer’s respect and trust by willing to deal with tough situations, not hiding from them. Rather than missing repeated opportunities to demonstrate their understanding, their expertise and ability to make a difference especially in though areas. Sellers talk about “finding the pain”, but only go for superficial pain which leads the buyer to hide their intent, as they lose confidence in the buyer due to their inability to deal with the buyer’s real challenges. Circling issues, only focusing on “pain” they can see and think they can solve. With this soft approach, rather than being provocative and relevant, makes these sellers look like kids playing hide and seek.
The buyers are no better, one can argue worse. They give up an hour of their valuable “crazy busy time”, only to make it unproductive for them, their companies, and the seller. They clam up when asked direct questions, as though the seller was the opposition, rather than a professional investing time and resources to help the buyer reach their objectives. Again one can’t blame them if they figure out early that they are meeting with a light weight sellers. But I have attended a number of sales calls where the rep had prepared well, asked the right questions, going to the root of the buyers objectives and barriers to reaching them, only to be met with an evasive buyer, incomplete in their answers, not sharing key data, or access to those who have answers. Again, looking more like a game of hide and seek rather than a process for improvement.
In the end, the goal is not to lay blame for the almost counterproductive time wasted by both sellers and buyers, but to encourage both parties to work towards a common goal, if one is plausible and/or possible, rather than playing a time consuming game of hide and seek. The game has no winner, just adds cost and time to the sale.
What’s in Your Pipeline?