Buyer-first mentality is simply defined as it’s a buyer’s world, and sellers are just living in it.
In the past, traditional sellers could easily come in and build a case because they were a superstar, had great product knowledge, and were able to support the buyer’s organization. In essence, they were selling what they could accomplish for the client without ever knowing anything about them.
Technically, those days are over now. Buyers expect you to know more about what their company is all about, what they do, and potentially what they’re trying to accomplish.
How Sellers Can Embrace a Buyer-First Mentality
Think back on any situation where you have been involved with someone trying to sell you something. Ask yourself, do you like being sold, or do you like to have someone who understands what you're looking for and is willing to learn more about how they can help you achieve your desired business results?
Suppose you're talking to a salesperson who has focused on your needs as a buyer, researched your company, and made their initial meeting or customer needs analysis about the buyer. In that case, you have a solid opportunity to work with an established salesperson who’s also a thought leader and a resource. This process will help in prioritizing your new relationship with a potential client and aligns you with what the buyer sees as a successful result of working with you.
There are many ways that sellers can embrace a buyer-first mentality. Here are three key steps to establish a firm hold on a buyer’s mindset.
1. Research the Client and Buyer
The first step in establishing a buyer’s mindset with your potential client is doing thorough and extensive research on the company and the buyer.
Even the most skilled sales representatives will skip this step. To successfully establish a buyer's mindset, you must understand the client.
What's the easiest way to accomplish that? Start by reviewing the company website, followed by a Google search, and then complete your research by looking at the client/buyer’s social media posts.
The goal of this research is to establish yourself as a thought leader and position yourself as a resource to the client. By reviewing each of these key areas, you'll gain a greater understanding of what's important to the buyer.
This process also will allow you to be better prepared for your first meeting to show the buyer you've done your homework. Once again, this is the single most important step in getting started on working on the buyer's mindset.
2. Connecting With a Potential Client
To connect with a potential client, you need a valid business reason for them to meet with you. In your VBR, you must share insights about the research you learned in step one.
In addition to specific client/buyer insights, you need to add industry-specific information and insights to establish yourself as a person this buyer would want to meet with. Ironically during this step, nearly 98% of all the VBRs I've personally seen, without any coaching and training, leave out the research information about the client/buyer at the beginning of the VBR.
In this step, the most important thing you must do as a salesperson is, once again, follow step one and share your insights about the buyer and the client.
3. First Meeting, "Customer Needs Analysis"
If you've done an effective job in step one and translated that into step two of this three-step process, then you'll end up with an appointment where you'll be able to start your customer needs analysis.
This is a step where you will either establish yourself as a thought leader and resource, or you'll be simply viewed as a salesperson.
What do I mean by that? A salesperson we'll walk into that first meeting and tell the buyer all about how great their company is, how great their solutions are, why other companies work with them and how they're going to help the buyer grow their business.
This may have worked 5, 10, 15 years ago, and it still might happen on occasion, but today buyers are looking for a salesperson who invests in them and their organization.
The best way to handle the first customer needs analysis is to establish yourself as a thought leader. You're probably asking yourself what's the easiest way to accomplish this. Well, if you've done a really good job on step one and in step two, you successfully got the meeting, then in order to complete the process you must stick to what you were doing in steps one and two.
Today, a great salesperson will make the customer needs analysis, that very first meeting, all about the buyer and buyers organization. A good rule of thumb for a customer needs analysis is to engage the buyer where they speak 90% of the meeting, and you, as the salesperson, only speak 10% of the time. If you are truly engaged as a salesperson in the buyer's mindset, during the customer needs analysis, there will be no need to sell the customer anything.
A simple way of looking at how to manage your customer needs analysis with your new buyer would look something like this.
- Start the meeting by sharing a few insights again that you've learned about the buyer and their company.
- Then transition to an agenda that is 100% focused on learning from the buyer. Don’t forget you don’t want to sell during this meeting. Take what you learned in step one and begin to ask questions, probe, clarify, position mini closes, and ultimately learn what the buyer wants to accomplish to grow their business.
The most important thing a salesperson can do during this step is to ask questions and actively listen. Try your best not to be a salesperson during this meeting, and you will establish that you have the buyer’s mindset. They will view you as a thought leader and resource. You won't need to sell your company, you won't need to sell products, you do need to sell yourself, but most importantly, you're there to learn how your solutions can be aligned with meeting the needs of your potential buyer. You’ll present those solutions in your follow-up meeting after learning all the needs of the buyer/client.
While these three steps may seem very simple to a salesperson, it takes repetition and discipline to avoid falling back into the same sales trap I described earlier as our legacy salesperson.