The Buyer’s Journey Aligned Human to Human

I was lucky enough in my first job out of college back in 1981 to be selling a product most people had no clue what it was.  This forced me to focus on the customer’s needs.

red-white-wineImagine trying to discuss product features when all the customer wanted to know, “Could we convert red wine into white wine?” The simple answer was “most likely” and it was this attitude which helped launch the company I was with and myself down the road. We would do all kinds of strange separation of fluids if it would help the customer satisfy their needs and it made sense technically and economically.

Learning early, it is not about how you sell or what you sell, it is all about what the customer needs. Easy to say, yet I have plenty of scars to back up my beliefs when I messed up.

Most of my sales training was sharing stories, and tactics, of what worked and what didn’t on a project. The company was small and we were great at putting out fires. Who could spare time for training? The result, some days things worked, next time they failed. Always wondered why?

In 2004 I attend a professional sales training workshop by Dan Lemke. I now understood why many of the sales tactics worked one day and failed the next. It was not “how” I did them, it was “when”. This allowed me to visualize the buyer’s journey and the sales cycle side by side and get in alignment. Reminding me, it is not about how I sell, it is all about the buyers needs, not mine.

Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation SeriesAt first glance these thoughts may stray from many professional sales methods, however, I cheat. There are 3 golden rules I’ve always applied:

  • Protect the customer
  • Protect the company
  • Never break either of the 1st 2 rules.

I borrowed these rules from “I Robot” – Isaac Asimov and twisted the words to help me from wandering too far as I focused on the buyers needs. As the expert, which many times we are in sales, it is our job to help make sure the customer does not make “buying decisions” which get them, or us, in trouble. Yet at the same time, make sure we protect the interest of our company.

Next up in 2010 I learn about the power of story from Mike Bosworth and how to form a connection and build trust over time. This takes me back to the early days of sharing stories on projects.

The Power of Story Helps Us Connect to Create Positive InfluenceLooking back, it was the ability to share successes, and failures, with my peers, prospects and customers which helped me succeed in my various sales and marketing roles.

I was lucky enough to have experienced a small company where everyone knew most of the best war stories.

To this day I have to wonder, without these stories, could I, or Osmonics who I stayed with for 20+ years, really have grown as we did? Not likely…