Know Your Buyer & Build the Relationship

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Lee Frederiksen and his team at the Hinge Research Institute, recently published “Inside the Buyer’s Brain”, in which they pose solutions to key advanced sales questions that I often explore with my clients. Now that the client is happy with your service/product,

  • what do you have to do to ensure that you will get more of their business – including orders for other products/services?
  • what do you have to do to get referrals from the client?

Fredericksen’s team interviewed and survey 822 buyers and 533 sellers of professional services; they also matched buyers and sellers and then compared the responses.  Here are some of then nuggets of their research:

  • Sellers misunderstand buyer’s challenges and don’t bring the right mix of services to the table Sellers tend to overestimate the solutions they offer (e.g., technology) and underestimate buyer’s other competitive issues, such as dealing with a difficult economy, budget issues, attracting new business and finding/keeping good people.
  • Sellers overestimate the important of their services, so they do a poor job of explaining why their services are relevant to solving a client’s problem
  • Sellers are dismissive of firms that buyer’s consider as competition, thinking they aren’t in their league or offer are different kinds of solutions
  • Buyer’s value a firm’s reputation for producing results much more than sellers think;. Over 80% choose professional service vendors by relying on their network, and then verifying through internet research and other methods.
  • Sellers believe that is expertise/skills are more important to decision making than to buyers; in contrast, they underestimate degree to which buyers rate goodness of fit & sharing of values.
  • Sellers believe cost is a critical cost driver in the selection process, but most buyers do not. Ovrr 50% of sellers believed cost was critical; vs 28% of the buyers!

Based on the research, the authors focus sellers on what they have to do to meet buyers’ priorities:

  • Build a strategy that positions your firm as an expert in the areas that count for the buyers; this includes educating buyers on ideas and perspectives – e.g., thought leader using content marketing – before, during and after pitching business. (This was one thing winning sellers did significantly more than losers. Also future contracts for different work is less likely to go to competitors who claim to specialize in that area, when buyers know you can do it, too!)
  • The strategy should differentiate your firm as uniquely skilled in solving buyer’s problem.
  • Truly understand the major rational and emotional factors that affect buyers’ decisions, not just the technical details. In other words, collaborate and persuade the buyers that desired results will be achieved. And connect it to bottom-line impact.
  • Deliver on the promise, earn trust, provide enhanced value (exceeding expectations); these are the main reasons buyers continue relationships; and they are the best way to build reputations.
  • Communicate in the ways buyers prefer: personal calls, visits, emails, meetings, relationships, online content marketing, etc.
  • Ask for referrals. Almost 70% of buyers said they would recommend service providers –but over 70% of buyers who did not provide referrals say they weren’t asked!
  • ABC – Always be communicating your brand value.

What do you think? Are your experiences similar to those of the people studied? Share your experiences and insights.

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