Strategic Buying has Changed…are you changing too?
Strategic buying has changed and I think it is time to realize it and make some changes of your own. There is no doubt Buyers have made significant changes in how they make strategic buying decisions. They have not only changed their process, they have changed the players and the rules. The current Buyer has many more steps in their process than in the past and expects today’s sales professional to be more informed, better prepared and be able to articulate their value. When the Buyer changes a process or step in their process it kicks off a chain of changes the Seller must adhere and adapt too. Below I will explore some of the problems for sales professionals caused by the changes the future Buyer is making.
Today’s sales professional’s have NOT made the necessary adjustments within their process, and the way they approach a Buyer and ultimately try to sell to them. The process for the Seller is essentially the same from the past and the present. This misalignment is the source of much frustration for sales professionals, sales management and the owners of businesses all around the world who have not adjusted their approach. Don’t get me wrong, today’s sales professional has made some changes. Technology has forced this. The internet, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media outlets has caused (or forced) today’s sales professional kicking and screaming into the present. The problem however is the next round of future changes required.
Here are the first two problems sales professionals are going to face in the future of selling. When Seller’s made strategic buying decisions in the past, the decisions were typically made with a single purpose in mind by a department head or mid level manager. In the past it was less complicated to identify the decision maker, and easier to get to them to make your sales presentation. Today, the same decisions that were made in the past, are now made with a broader view of the organizations needs.
For example, if a Buyer entered the market looking for a fork lift to improve productivity in his warehouse, he would evaluate his options based on his immediate needs. (Improving efficiency in the warehouse) The fork lift can move goods easier and faster through the warehouse. Remember in the past Buyers were looking more at features, functions, and benefits than they were at solving a larger problem. Case in point, all forklifts can move goods around a warehouse. But the added benefits of hydraulics, comfort, tire size and lift capacity were some of the features the Buyer wanted to evaluate.
Today, Buyer’s looking to purchase a forklift would evaluate the many options the forklift can offer them like reducing the amount of floor space needed to store goods by building racks and going up, as opposed to adding additional storage space. The decision to add rack space as opposed to building another storage facility is a major decision many companies may face. The purchase of a fork lift can weigh into that decision. Mid level managers typically are not involved in a decision like this. They are focused on their immediate needs, not necessarily the needs of the organization. The problem is this any longer. Decisions have moved up into the C-Suite and often times by committee.
Identifying the decision maker will become more difficult because of this point. Getting to the C-Suite will prove to be more difficult as well, and gaining an understanding of corporate needs will be a challenge going into the future. Future Buyer’s will make it much more difficult for Seller’s to participate in the early stages of the buying process. They will isolate themselves on the financial analysis, create internal teams to participate in needs development, and buying strategies will be exclusively made at only the C-level. Since the future buyer will be difficult to engage early in the sales process, you, the sales professional will need to have a compelling reason for the Buyer to talk to you. Be aware, the future Buyer may start their buying process as much as a year ahead of time. They will research, kick a lot of tires and develop a strategy over an extended period of time.
ROI4Sales designs, develops and deploys software to increase revenues, reduce discounting, and drive better sales performance. Visit us at www.roi4sales.com for more information on ROI Selling and Michael Nick Author of ROI Selling, The Key to the C-Suite and Why Johnny can’t Sell. Buy Now! You can follow Michael on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mjnspw. Call us at 262.338.1851.