Your Customers don’t want to buy from you
It’s not your job to buy the things vendors have to sell.
And it’s not your customer’s job to buy from you.
Not only is it not their job to buy from you, it’s not even remotely close to being one of their ambitions.
Unless you’re selling a Ferrari to a long-time admirer of Enzo’s marriage of power and design, buying from you is not what motivates any of your customers.
In fact, if they could avoid their problems while also avoiding you, they would. They’re only talking to you because in comparison to the problem you’re promising to solve, dealing with you is a bit less painful.
So please, take it easy on them. Have some sympathy for them. It’s just the decent thing to do.
And it will help you sell.
How hard is it to buy something?
It’s fascinating that we can have a blind spot for how hard it is to buy something in an organization. All we have to do is look at how hard it is for us to get a purchase through our own company’s bureaucracy – and that’s if we already know exactly what to buy.
How much time did you spend on your last corporate purchase? I’m not talking about low-cost things you can expense, but the kinds of purchases that need a P.O. and somebody else’s signature.
- How much time did you spend?
- How much extra work did you have to take home to make up for that time?
- How many favours did you have to call in?
- How many internal presentations did you have to make?
- How many of your colleagues did you have to win over?
- How many frustrating vendors did you have to waste time with?
- How much online research did you have to do?
- How many colleagues at other companies did you call?
- How much of a risk to your own career did you take?
Your customer has to go through the same things. The same expenditure of time, energy, money, and career capital.
Wouldn’t it have been a dream come true if even one of the vendors you dealt with had been sympathetic to your real needs? Not just the ones they promised their product would solve, but all your needs? Like the need not to get fired if this all goes wrong? Like the need to get past this purchase and get back to your real job of using this and other tools to build a spectacularly successful business?
Why wouldn’t you want to be that vendor for your customers?
How do you develop sympathy for your B2B customers?
You develop sympathy for your B2B customers the same way you develop sympathy for anyone.
- You learn about their pain
- You care about how to reduce that pain.
How do you learn about their pain? You observe them. And if that doesn’t work, you ask them. If you get really good at it, you can even point out pains that they weren’t aware could be removed, or pains that they didn’t know they were heading for.
One method I’ve found helpful with my clients is to take a Customer Experience approach to the buyer’s experience. Map out the buyer’s experience over time and then use the map to get your team (and other teams as needed) to improve the low points. You can get more info about this at the B2B Customer Experience Group or just contact me.
How will this make you more successful?
Here’s what IDC found when surveying buyers in the IT field. You can decide if it’s likely to apply to your buyers.
"On average, survey respondents spend 44% of their work week on pre– and post–IT purchase activities. This time strain impacts an increasing number of senior leaders...As a result, IT buyers are desperate to reduce the amount of time it takes to make IT purchase decisions, and more than a third of them are willing to change vendors to do it." IDC
That’s right, the buyers IDC surveyed spend 44% of their work on purchase activities, and 33% of them would switch vendors to get some of this time back.
How do you help them do this? You can be more responsive, know more about their real goals, and anticipate their needs. If you’re selling costly complex products or services, here’s IDC’s advice. According to their research, we can “help buyers make their decisions up to 40% faster” by providing guidance on:
- “How to evaluate the strategic priority of the solution as well as the technical and business benefits”
- “How to build consensus across line of business, corporate IT and other key players in the decision making process”
This all begins with having sympathy for the B2B buyer. It’s not their job to buy from you. But it is your job to find ways to make their jobs easier, for which they’ll become your customer.
- The 40% faster IDC quote is found here.
- The 44% IDC number comes from this study.
- The Ferrari picture is from here. And there’s more there to browse through.
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