In our recent book, The Collaborative Sale, we describe the significant changes in buyer behavior over the last few years. With easy access to vast amounts of information at their fingertips, they are now much more empowered and educated. Generally, buyers now drive their own purchase decision processes. They’re also more risk-averse, and therefore, more likely to make decisions for strategic purchases by formal committee.
As buyer behavior changes, sellers must also change. But how, exactly? What new activities and behaviors will enable sales professionals to sell more successfully? According to our research, sellers need to be agile in how they interact with buyers – they must become proficient in three personae to work effectively with buyers at different parts of the buying process.
These personae are:
- The Micro-Marketer Sellers can engage with buyers very early in their buying process by being effective micro-marketers. A micro-marketer demonstrates their expertise by providing ideas and useful advice to help buyers envision better ways of doing things. Micro-marketers recognize that buyers are having conversations all the time, and they go to where buyers are having those conversations – today, that often means being active on social media and online resources. Micro-marketing helps sellers influence the thinking of potential buyers. If sellers can help buyers to create or enhance a vision of a possible solution, they increase their chances of winning by four times more than someone who engages later. It’s definitely worth the effort, even if the sales cycle might be longer.
- The visualizer is adept at sales conversations with buyers, whether they’re virtual or face-to-face. Visualizer conversations help the buyer to create, enhance or re-engineer their vision of a solution to their problems. Sellers must first understand where the buyer is in their buying process to determine the best type of sales conversation to apply. Visualizer sales conversations are collaborative and help the buyer to paint a picture of a better way of doing things, so they can accomplish their goals and realize new value.
- The Value-DriverThis persona consists of two parts. First, value-drivers identify and express quantitative value throughout their entire engagement with a buyer, beginning to end. Sellers who can collaborate with buyers to quantify the specific value of a solution help those buyers overcome their perception of financial risk. This builds buyers’ confidence and belief in solutions and makes it much easier for them to buy. The second part is recognizing that there are other risks besides financial ones, which cause concerns for buyers. Buyers are always concerned about operational risk – uncertainty that a solution will work as expected. They are also concerned about transitional risk – how to adopt or implement a solution successfully. The value-driver anticipates these risks and helps buyers to mitigate them so that they can make a buying decision with confidence.
Click here for a downloadable infographic illustrating three personae of a collaborative sale.
Many sellers may have natural affinities for one or more of these personae – but proficiency in all three are needed to align with how buyers buy today. Fortunately, all three can be learned and mastered by sellers. They only need to know how and when to adopt the right persona at the right time – then they can be true collaborative sellers, working as equals with buyers to find optimum solutions.