It’s always about the Buying Process

Connect better and sell more when you get out of your selling process and get into your customer’s buying process!

Originally published in Feed & Grain’s Coach’s Corner Blog

Kevin sat in my workshop recently and talked about his recent experience calling on a dairy producer.

“I did everything right.  I walked his cows with him, took forage samples, balanced his on-farm feed with a custom protein supplement that was cheaper than his current feeding program.  I asked for the sale and got nothing.  He wants to think about it!  What else could I do?” 

“Great question Kevin,” I said.  “Let’s ask the rest of the class.  What else can Kevin do?”  The class responded with the usual; a few jokes about cutting his price, offering a free trip to the Bahamas like the competition does, but mostly, it was solemn agreement.  They felt Kevin had done everything right.  He now had to ‘keep going back” and persisting until the dairy producer had a problem with their current supplier and wanted to switch.  As a sales trainer, I see this reaction a lot when leading groups through the intricacies of overcoming objections.

After allowing the class to respond, I asked Kevin to explain this dairyman’s buying process.  Kevin then began explaining how the producer ordered feed.  “I don’t mean that.  I mean, what process does this customer go through in order to buy feed?  How does he make decisions?” 

Kevin replied, “I wish I knew.  Then I could sell him what he wants!”

My next question was of course, “Did you ask?”  I love this question because it usually leads in one of two directions.  The first is often a stunned look of, “wow that’s the obvious thing I should have asked”.  The second reaction to my question is a long litany of guesses such as, “he’s a price buyer or he’s been with his current supplier for years, etc.” 

So, I go back to my original question, “Did you ask?”  to which I finally get the real answer, “No, I didn’t specifically ask.”  Now we are getting somewhere.  Now we know there is some extremely important information missing.

As salespeople, we spend so much time thinking about our selling process, that we forget we are part of our prospect’s buying process.  We are one piece of a very big puzzle to the farmers and agribusiness buyers we call on.  Find out early in the relationship how they make their decisions.

Most salespeople feel they are given an appointment to go out to a producer and present their products.  That’s only part of what you might do.  However, the most important role is becoming an integral part of your customer’s buying process.

As you venture out today into the country, heading to your next sales call, turn your talk radio off and ask yourself, “Do I really know how this person makes decisions on my product line?”  If you don’t thoroughly know the answer, start your sales call there!  Trust me that this will pay big dividends when you attempt to close the sale.



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