Help buyers buy

Today’s busy buyers are being asked to do more in less time while overwhelmed with phone calls, e-mails, meetings and fire fighting.

November 4, 2011
by Andrew Shedden

Today’s busy buyers are distracted, frazzled and unfocused. They’re being asked to do more in less time while overwhelmed with phone calls, e-mails, meetings and fire fighting.

How do you sell to these multi-tasking dynamos? They have little interest in your products and services or special features. What they do care about is value and how it will improve performance. The best way to reach them is to find out what issues and business drivers are top of mind and create outcomes-based, value propositions such as the following:

• We help machine shops increase metal removal rates by an average of 53%.

• We help fabrication shops reduce consumables expenses and increase productivity.

• We help manufacturers reduce drill press cycle times.

The best action your salesperson can hope for is the buyer saying, “Interesting, I would like to take some time to discuss this.”

Going into this first face-to-face meeting, understand that a salesperson’s biggest competitor is complacency. A natural tendency is to resist change. A buyer happy with the status quo won’t buy from you, so create a process that clearly establishes the advantages of taking action.

Resist launching into a product pitch at this meeting. Focus instead on getting high-quality intel and have a productive conversation that shows how your offering delivers real business value.

Buyers will only take action when they’re confident the advice is sound, unbiased and will lead to a quality buying decision, so ask the right questions. Neil Rackham’s book “SPIN Selling” offers the following advice:

• Build trust and confidence in your company and its offerings.

• Help buyers rank your initiative against their competing projects.

• Is the status quo acceptable or is the buyer receptive to change?

• Uncover the buyer’s major problems.

• Discuss their consequences.

• Discuss the measurable value of resolving them.

• Show the buyer how your solution provides the desired value at minimal risk and how change outweighs the comfort derived from doing nothing.

• If necessary, help the buyer map out the steps in a selection process.

When business conditions are making life complicated for buyers, the best way to get their attention and make the sale is to help them buy.

Andrew Shedden is the president of Broadfield Communications, an industrial marketing consulting firm. Call (800) 353-4447. Visit for the Seven Steps to Manufacturing Profits.