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The Four Different Types of Buyers

February 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161

The Opening PremiseWhat happens when a seller and a buyer are out of alignment from a sales process perspective? I submit this notion for your consideration. There is conflict, which makes sales success very unlikely. There are only four different types of business to business buyers, so understanding who you are selling to can have a major impact on your sales success. I know what is going through your mind, why four types? Why not three, or five or six? I will answer that question with one word, clarity. My intent here is to bring the behaviors into focus so they can be acted upon in a way that creates a win/win scenario.

The Explanation The COMMODITY BUYER: Their focus is on price. They are motivated by a quick fix. Their sense of urgency is immediate. Funding is restrictive in nature but readily available. The pain points are usually minimal.

The PRODUCT BUYER: Their focus is on purchasing a state-of-the-art product or service. They are motivated by a clearly defined need. Their sense of urgency is short-term, and if not met in a reasonable amount of time may fall behind some other business problem that was given a higher priority. Funding is approved on a project by project basis. The pain points are usually moderate. Sometimes they may even be ambiguous and need clarification by the seller.

The SOLUTION BUYER: Their focus is on the seller's core competencies. They are motivated by a critical business issue such as a need to increase revenue and or profitability. Their sense of urgency is prioritized based on severity of the pain points. Funding is driven by a sense of urgency and the degree of political influence that can be applied for funding by the owner of the problem. The pain points are usually severe.

The CONSULTANCY BUYER: Their focus is on the seller's consulting experience and willingness to make a long-term commitment to helping the buyer. They are motivated by a strategic initiative. Their sense of urgency is market driven and competitive in nature. Funding is driven by the buyer's position in the value chain and how much access they have to enterprise wide budget dollars. The pain points are moderate to severe. Often, the source of the pain may be unknown and need exploration when the seller is contracted to do the work.

The Story Larry's company did IT consulting and implementation of their technology platform. Larry had been selling for the company for a little over three years. For every sales opportunity his focus was always the same, close the sale. He was motivated by discovering the buyer's current needs and was good at building a trusting relationship with his contacts. His value strategy was about the features and benefits of the technology he was selling. His political strategy was always the same. Try and get his contact to introduce him to the boss, the functional manager who actually owned the problem. And finally, there was his competitive strategy. Larry was at the top of his game in infiltrating an account and getting his foot in the door. So when the sales opportunity with RoBo Checks knocked on the door, Larry was first to run toward the goal post.

Sam was Senior Vice President of Northeast Operations and found Larry's company from a Google search on the Internet. Sam's objective was to improve the efficiency of each direct report's department so he could reduce overall operating costs, and at the same time, grow sales revenue. The month before Sam had attended a strategy conference in New York City with the rest of the senior management team. The strategy was clear - streamline the operation and grow the business. Although each department was given a budget, Sam used his influence with the CFO to tweak his numbers to the upside. The timeline for implementation of the solution was over the next six to nine months. Sam's focus in searching for a vendor was well defined in his head. He looked at length of time in business, overall capabilities, and the names of clients that had done business with the vendor he was considering. Sam knew he had to make changes, but at this point in time as a Consultancy Buyer did not know how to proceed because he was unsure as to the source of the problems. Were the problems internal or external, or a combination of both?

Larry and Sam met for the first time at 9:00 AM on a Tuesday morning. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful spring day in early April. Larry started the meeting like he had done many times in the past, with a handout of a PowerPoint sales presentation. Sam looked at the cover page and then turned the handout upside down on his desk. Since this was the first time Larry met with a senior executive during an initial face-to-face sales meeting, he was a little nervous.

Larry started the conversation. "Sam, I appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to meet with me. I would like to take a few minutes to review that handout so you have a thorough understanding of our capabilities." "We can do that," Sam said. "First, I would like to explain why I agreed to meet with you." Sam spent the next hour talking about the New York meeting and what he was looking to accomplish. Sam was very clear about not being able to specifically identify the problem areas in each department. But, he only talked about internal business issues, and never mentioned the external issues; the changes in the marketplace that were driving the strategic initiative. As Larry listened to Sam's narrative, he occasionally asked some relevant yes or no questions, and one or two really challenging opened ended questions that caused Sam to stop and think. Larry started to review the sales deck but realized he was out of time. The meeting lasted almost ninety minutes, and Sam had another internal meeting to attend.

As they parted company, Sam did a quick mental comparison between Larry and the other two salespeople he already met with. Sam's dominate thought was about scheduling a second meeting with Larry, himself and his direct reports. He was also thinking about the 'Subject Matter Experts' Larry could bring to the table that could help him identify his most critical business issues. Sam communicated these thoughts to Larry.

Larry's dominate thought was about getting to the next stage in the sales process; writing and delivering the proposal. Larry communicated this thought to Sam.

As he walked to his car, Larry was brooding about how he handled the close of the meeting. He was uncomfortable with the outcome but did not know why. Larry put off the follow-up call with Sam for several days. When he finally did call, he was informed by Sam that he had already contracted with another vendor.

Fortunately, there is a good ending to this story. Larry thought about the conflict in thinking that was openly communicated by his prospect and himself and learned from the experience. He made this comment in his contact notes. Next time a prospect communicates the next step in the sales process, shut up and follow their lead! Larry also recognized that he had established trust during the first meeting and should have gone to the next step; positioning himself as a collaborator or trusted adviser so he could leverage the relationship and dominate the buying process.

What happens when a seller and a buyer are out of alignment from a sales process perspective? I submit this notion for your consideration. There is conflict, which makes sales success very unlikely. There are only four different types of business to business buyers, so understanding who you are selling to can have a major impact on your sales success.

Source: EzineArticles
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