I speak with sales reps and their customers every day about what prevented buyers from investing in solutions that perfectly matched their needs. The answers I hear from buyers always astound the sales team and are a complete mismatch (100% of the time) with why they believe they lost a deal AND in many cases, why they won. Think about that for a minute?

Buying is a change management problem not a solution choice problem.

A decision not to purchase a product or service has very little to do with the seller, the solution, the relationship or the need. It has everything to do with the buyer’s inability to manage internal change and the fact that:

  • there are people in the company that don’t see a need for anything new or any reason why they need to fix the problem now.
  • the tech guys have priority to do all new systems changes and enhancements themselves.
  • they don’t have buy-in to look for an external solution.
  • they’re not willing to give up the workarounds that they have in place and that contain the problem well-enough.
  • anything new will enter the company’s core systems and processes and force them to replace or reconsider what’s already working.
  • adjacent departments, processes and people will be displaced and the disruption will leave a mess.
  • the president has other more pressing issues and has not informed the rest of the company on these priorities yet.

The company systems and processes are sacrosanct.

A purchase is the very last thing a buyer wants and until everyone and everything that created the problem and would touch the new solution understands, plans for and agrees to the disruption it will cause, no purchase will take place. The smooth operation of the company systems and processes is essential and more important to them than fixing a problem that’s already baked into the operation of the business.

You better believe buyers “Get it”

Make no mistake, buyers know they have a problem that’s why they’ve built, funded, staffed and maintain workarounds to “manage” the problem. The external solution will impact all of this (the status quo) and they’re not sure how deep and embedded the status quo even is in their own company and it’s likely been there for years with lots of historical precedence and political supporters. So even though you may have exactly the right solution, if buyers can’t make sense of their own situation your marketing content, sales pitch, presentation and script won’t matter.

The problem gap between buyers and sellers

Sales reps have been trained to probe for needs, ask questions to inspire agreement and admit need, prove a need/solution match and enter into relationships based on what their selling.

Marketing is expected to create content that delivers the right campaign to the right buyer with the right solution, messaged the right way at the right time.

Buyers need to understand how they got to where they are now, what’s missing and how the problem is being maintained. They need to conclude that they cannot resolve the problem on their own or with known resources, they need to fully understand any negative consequences of change and they need buy-in from everyone that created the problem and will ultimately touch the solution.

Do you see the problem gap – different goals, different behaviors, different communication and thinking patterns?

It doesn’t matter what your product is or how you sell and market it, if the buyer doesn’t know how to align all of the pieces of their internal systems so everyone will be happy to change, they will do nothing. It’s not just a decision about the problem your product solves, it’s about understanding and managing the entire internal environment that contains and maintains the problem.

Closing the problem gap

Buying is not sales or selling/purchase-based, it’s all about managing change. Buyers need to get their ducks lined up and both sales and marketing can help them do exactly that and be on board and accepted as a provider when they go through their vendor selection process.

I understand this is not how sales and marketing are supposed to think or act but I can tell you that the best sales people that I’ve worked with actively manage and work the buyers decision making process right from that initial contact or 1st call response on a marketing lead and they’re firmly influencing buyer opinions and selection criteria and in most cases, they’re part of the buyers decision team. Try competing against that!

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