Effective Selling Starts With The Customer

by Dave Stein

I’m not sure of the origin of the aphorism, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.”  I’d like you to think about this for a moment with respect to your customers and how they buy.

Actually there are two levels to consider: your Customers, meaning that set of businesses to which you would sell your products or services, and an individual customer. (For this post I’ll use the following convention: Uppercase “C” for all your customers and lowercase “c” for a single customer.)

At ESR, again and again we see sales and marketing leaders who don’t deeply understand these, among other characteristics of their Customers:

  • Their buying preferences and tendencies
  • Pressures and trends within their markets
  • Alternative strategies to overcome challenges or leverage opportunities
  • Business justification required for a purchase
  • Influencers—both inside and outside the Customers’ organizations

With respect to customers, many sales people don’t have the skills, tools, and support to discern, among other things:

  • Their buying preferences and tendencies
  • Pressures and trends within their markets
  • Alternative strategies to overcome challenges or leverage opportunities
  • Business justification required for a purchase
  • Influencers—both inside and outside the customer’s organization

What’s the difference, you ask.  It’s the same list except for the last bullet.

The difference is this. In building your sales methodology with the requisite processes, tools, learning, reinforcement, supporting infrastructure, etc., you must take into account how your Customers really buy, looking at them not as you see them, but as they really are.  Then, and only then, will you have a framework within which your salespeople can be empowered and have the flexibility to sell effectively to their individual and unique customers.

This comprehensive and objective view of your Customers isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. But it’s required to achieve any forward progress in your mission to significantly improve the performance of your sales team.