Diffusing Traditional Buyer-Seller Roles
When customers have been brought into your business as residents in your sales database and when you have penetrated their businesses in depth, breadth, and height, the traditional distinctions between buyer and seller will become diffused. Their basis, which lies in the absence of mutual objectives, will have disappeared. Win-lose sales strategies will have no place. Because your customers must win if you are going to have a growing market, and because you must win if your customers are going to have a growing improvement in their profits, Your combined need for win-win relations will foster a new union in your roles.
The line between selling and buying will grey out. The zone where customer interests conflict with your interests will thin down. Your need to overcome them will be converted to a need to come over to their way of assigning priorities to their problems, defining the kinds of solutions they can most readily accept, and together with them, implementing the solutions inside their businesses.
You will still have to compete to serve them. But once accepted, you will become their partners in profit. Your common objectives will be identified in your penetration plans; both of you will have signed off on them. The strategies will be known to both of you and approved by your customers so that they can work together with you to achieve shared objectives.
In such a scenario, which is commonplace in Consultative Selling relationships, who is buyer and who is seller-and what difference does it make? Your role will be that of a customer extender, acting as an extension of your customer’s own people and their capabilities to solve their problems. Thus you can become positioned as a true adder of value. Your contribution is perceptible; it is also quantifiable.
The essence of role blending is your combined ability to achieve the dollar objectives of your account penetration plan. This is your pivot point in moving away from vending toward consultation. If you fail, you fall back to being a vendor. You separate out of the partnership and become a supplier once again, perceived as having your own self-serving objectives that are bound to be inconsistent with-indeed, they are adversarial to-the needs of your customers.
Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects. He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator
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