By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Do you think something is awry when people say that a seller’s job is educating buyers? I suppose if sellers are calling on early market buyers and have disruptive offerings it could potentially be productive. Generally speaking I cringe at the thought of taking the time to educate buyers. For those espousing this approach I have a few questions:
1. What do sellers talk about when educating buyers? Sellers talk about their products/offerings when educating buyers, often reciting what they learned in product training. Most everyone agrees leading with product is the sign of an inept seller. Taking this approach can lead to premature price discussions. Disclosing approximate costs before establishing value is certainly not heading calls in a positive direction.
2. What level of buyer is willing to be educated? In my experience executives will end meetings abruptly if they degrade into discussions about sellers’ offerings. Anyone that allows sellers the time needed to educate them is probably not a Key Player and unlikely to have an enterprise perspective of what value offerings could provide.
3. Does everyone get the same education? If sellers haven’t had an opportunity to discuss buyer challenges, it’s likely (nearly certain) that some features/capabilities presented won’t be relevant. Without diagnosing a buyer’s needs first, education runs the risk of just being “spray and pray” product pitches that buyers detest.
Ideally initial calls on Key Player titles should focus on business outcomes that can be improved through the use of a seller’s offering. These executive buyers want the “Cliff Notes” summary and a conceptual idea of specific capabilities that are needed to achieve outcomes. As a seller is designated to lower levels, the discussions become more product focused, but hopefully sellers can discuss or even demo only those parts of their offerings that are relevant.
Unlike teachers that must cover 100% of a curriculum for all students, competent sellers share details about their offerings on a need to know basis for each buyer.