401-423-2400 Kristin@Zhivago.com

How your selling process is different from their buying process

You sell. They buy. These two processes are miles apart, from start to finish.

Your needs are different. You need to sell in order to survive. They don't need to buy from you. They can buy from anyone. Why should they buy from you? Not because you need them to. Your need has nothing to do with their need.

Your tradeoffs are different. When you created your product or service, you made certain decisions. It may have been cheaper to have that product made in China. You offer services based on the capabilities you have yourself, or have hired. You decided to make the case out of plastic instead of aluminum because it was cheaper. What you are charging is driven by what it costs for you to make the product, or what you have to earn in order to be profitable.

These needs are completely unrelated to what customers want. They may love aluminum cases. They may want to only buy things made in this country. They may only have so much money to pay you; no matter how much they like what you're selling, the price has to fit into their monetary world, both in terms of what they "think" it should cost, and what they can afford.

Your desired outcome is different. You need to sell more so you can grow your business. They need to buy what you're selling to meet a very specific need. If you don't address their specific need, but just brag about how great you think the product is, and why YOU think they should buy it, they won't be convinced.

What you think is important is different than what they think is important. You may have struggled mightily to create a certain product function or feature. You may have worked night and day to be able to provide a given service. Now you think this is really important, and you say so in your marketing copy. But customers aren't impressed. When I interview customers for clients, their list of "what is important" and "what is assumed" (the "table stakes" they expect from every vendor) are completely different than what my clients were assuming.

Why this matters now

Customers are now completely in control of the buying process, which means they are also in control of the selling process. They have access to tons of information about products and services, from other customers. They talk to other customers or read what other customers have written before they pay any attention to your carefully crafted content. If your content doesn't match what they have been hearing/reading, they will decide that you can't be trusted, and they will end up buying from someone else.

How do you match your selling process to their buying process? Interview about ten of your current customers, by phone, asking open-ended questions (all listed in my book). Do it yourself or hire someone to do it, but do it. It's the fastest way to understand:

  • What they were looking for (it's not what you think)
  • How they describe what they bought from you (ditto)
  • How they bought it; the barriers they overcame in order to buy it (the barriers you placed in their way, and their own concerns)
  • Who else was involved, what their concerns were, and how they were overcome
  • The search terms they used, if they used a search engine
  • Whether or not they'd expect to find you in a social media channel, and what they'd want you to be doing in that channel
  • The price they would consider "fair" – which, interestingly, will include your profit margin
  • The trends they see in their own industry, and the trends they see in your industry
  • The challenges they are facing (which helps you identify new opportunities – and also write relevant copy)
  • What you could improve about your products and services
  • The words and phrases they use to describe you – and recommend you to others

You can't afford for your selling process to be out of step with their buying process. Every time someone comes to your site and starts reading irrelevant copy, they just click away. You might have exactly what they need, but if your message doesn't make that clear, they will never know. And you will never sell as much as you could be selling.

It's so sad that companies continue to struggle with this, because the solution is so easy, cheap, and fast. Every day you don't do this, you're losing sales you could be making. That's more than unfortunate. It's a crime you're committing against yourself!

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