1.2. How to Influence the Buyer Journey

How to Influence the Buyer Journey: An overview?

A key point to remember here is that prospects can – and often will – have myriad reservations to you and to your sales message at each stage. You must thus unearth and present a rebuttal to each of these reservations at every stage of the journey.

The error that salespeople commit is that they think objection management is one step in the sales process. It is not. Rather, prospects will have reservations at every step of the buyer journey. It is in effectively unearthing and eliminating the reservations that your prospect has that you will be able to move the sale to the next stage in the buyer journey.

How Have You Been Influencing the Buyer Journey?

Based on the large number of interactions that we have had with salespeople from across industry verticals, we have come to realize one key fact about B2B sales.

Most salespeople end up selling to the guys in Purchase, Procurement, or Admin divisions; people lower down the value chain in their client’s organisation. Most rarely, if ever, talk or sell to the decision makers.

So, is there anything wrong with that?

Yes, it the reason salespeople get sucked into the price game

Want to know what is wrong with this approach? You are talking to the guys whose very job it is to find vendors who can meet the desired criteria at the cheapest rate.

Here’s how buying works at most large organisations. The strategy guys (top management) have already created the strategy, decided the vendor criteria, decided what a possible vendor should provide, and have then palmed off the execution of the strategy to their junior staff.

Execution of the strategy means just one thing: getting vendors who can deliver the desired service or product at the lowest price, while meeting desired standards.

Most salespeople sell to the strategy executors, the people lower down the value chain whose very focus it is to execute the existing plan and do so at the cheapest rate.

Little wonder then, that every sale becomes a price game.


What then, is the way out?

By now, it would be pretty obvious to you that if you want to avoid getting sucked into a price game, then you need to avoid (to the extent possible) two things:

Merely selling products or services and not solutions that positively impact business outcomes

Selling to people lower down in the value chain and begin engaging the decision makers.


Sell outcomes

What business outcome does your product or service impact? Perhaps your product or service can impact the customer’s top line, or perhaps it can help them gain a larger market share. Maybe it can lower costs, or improve production time, thus improving profitability.

Whatever be the business outcome that your product or service can impact, sell that; not the product itself. Your product is a means to an end. Do not make this the end in itself.


Whose KPIs would these business outcomes be?

The business outcomes that you are selling will rarely be the Key Result Area (the KRA) and the Key Performance Indicator (the KPI) of the guy lower down your customer’s organisational hierarchy. But, these will be the KRAs and the KPIs of the people higher up the ladder – the decision makers.

It is to these individuals that you need to engage with and sell to.


How does one engage with these individuals?

Now comes the difficult question: how does one engage the decision maker? After all, it is the decision maker himself who has palmed off the task of identifying the right vendor to his junior staff. Also, importantly, what does one do to actually sell to the decision maker?

These are the questions that we will try to answer in the next section. But, let us for now briefly recap what we have learnt so far in this lesson.

One: The truth is that many sales discussions tend to be mere price negotiations

Two: The reason this happens is that the salesperson is selling to the very people whose job is to find the cheapest vendor. These are the people lower down the ladder in your customer’s organisation, who have been tasked with the job of finding vendors who can meet set criteria at the cheapest price possible

Three: To avoid this, a salesperson should sell solutions that impact business outcomes and should bring forth these outcomes to the people in the C-suite – the decision makers