Picture yourself in a meeting with your buyer.
If you are meeting in person, you’re on one side of the table or desk and your buyer is on the opposite side. If you are meeting by phone, there’s an equivalent divide with each of you on opposite ends of the line.
It’s time you stop meeting like this. It’s time to break down that divide.
It isn’t the physical divide but what it represents that’s preventing you from forming meaningful and lasting connections with your buyer. It is the metaphorical divide, the one you can actually do something about, that restricts your connection.
This divide is ironic. Outside of sales, I can think of no other job that gives someone in one position a better chance at understanding the other party’s perspective. The reason sellers ought to be elegantly and wholly equipped to understand buyers is this: We are all buyers, too. We live and breathe and make decisions just like our buyers. Then, somehow, we mysteriously forget what it’s like to be a buyer when we don our seller role.
More sales can be made when you think like a buyer. More connections can be formed when you demonstrate sincere understanding of and appreciation for your buyer’s situation. More time can be saved when you align yourself with the buyer, moving to the same side of the table to come alongside your buyer (metaphorically speaking).
Here are ten major differences between buyers and sellers. Consider what it would be like to set aside your seller tendencies and thoughts. Take some time to consider the buyer’s perspective in each of these 10 differences. Empathize with your buyer, drawing from your own experiences as a buyer.
|The Seller||The Buyer|
|Desires…||a quick sale, closed business||a solution to a problem|
|Talks about…||theoretical outcomes||actual results needed|
|Is fearful of…||being rejected||being taken advantage of|
|Emphasizes value of…||product or company distinctions||personally relevant differentiators|
|Is motivated by…||extrinsic goals and incentives||intrinsic drivers for change|
|Is sizing up…||the buyer’s budget and urgency||the seller’s trustworthiness|
|Has a goal to…||complete the transaction||get results after the transaction|
|Starts by thinking…||the buyer is a potential ally||the seller is a potential threat|
|Thinks rapport results from…||small talk and common interests||seller offering new insights|
|Sees sellers job as…||providing information||facilitating a solution|
Here’s an obvious and common example. Instead of focusing on your own desire to get a quick sale, focus instead on the buyer’s desire to get a problem solved. Talk about the problem and the solution. Don’t talk about closing the sale.
The fundamental divide in this example happens because sellers view the close of a sale as the end point. But buyers see the entire sale as a means to an end – the end the buyer is focused on comes after the sale with the solution in place and producing results. Looking at the end point from the buyer’s perspective will make you, the seller, a trusted advisor.
Now try this. Think about how it feels when you are approached by a seller. Imagine yourself on that car lot or in that furniture store where you last entertained the idea of making a major purchase. How did you feel when the seller began the pitch? What were you thinking about the seller, about your own vulnerabilities in that moment, about how you wanted to proceed?
All those feelings, suspicions, doubts and apprehensions you experienced are similar to what your buyer may be working through when you are in your seller role. It isn’t about you, and you shouldn’t take this reaction personally. It’s a pre-conditioned response triggered by negative experiences in the past (just as it is for you when you are a buyer).
If you check yourself before and during your meetings with a buyer, you’ll continually be reminded to nudge yourself back to the buyer’s side of the table. Soon, you will break habits that create that great divide. You’ll replace seller-driven behaviors and perspectives with a buyer-based focus.
If you spend time with this list and immerse yourself in relating to and empathizing with the buyer in all ten ways, then your interaction with the buyer is bound to change. Your buyers will see you in a different light. They will reciprocate and mirror your empathy. They will trust you and value time spent with you. Your sales will advance more quickly and more often toward a close even though that isn’t where your mental energy is directed.
Feeling a little skeptical about this? Then put this to the litmus test. Once more, recall a time when you were a buyer. Think about the best buying experience you ever had and the seller who made it such a good experience. What was different about that seller as compared to others?
I’ve asked hundreds of buyers (many who are also sellers) this same question, and the answer never varies. The best buying experiences we have always involve a seller who “gets” us. We feel understood because the seller seems oriented more to us, the buyers, than to his or her own motivations.
When you are selling, don’t forget what it’s like to buy. Stop meeting with buyers from across the divide. Bridge that gap and make a connection.