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Sellers ought to understand the buying process

salesman pitching
A saleswoman pitching a product to a customer. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Selling is results-oriented; buying is process-oriented. Not understanding this difference may ruin relationships and delay completing the sale. Here are three instances how.

If your contact person in the company you are pitching to is another seller, question what he is telling you. Being results-oriented, he will likely ignore the purchase processes of his own institution.

For instance, an oil seller will tell the new dealer he is signing on, “Don’t worry. Everything is on track. Your contract has been signed and you will get your supply from next week.”

The (results-oriented) seller has booked the sale and, in his view, his job is done. And true, the dealer does get the fuel. But when the seller shows up four months later asking if all is well he is angrily told, “No. I haven’t been paid yet despite the oil we have sold. Your finance department told me I am not in your system as a vendor. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Because, Mr Dealer most likely is learning from you that vendors in his company need onboarding before payment. To overcome this, think process as seller thinks product and prod with third party stories. “Elsewhere, we have had to be on-boarded as vendors. Please ask Finance or Procurement if there’s anything else they need from us.”

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Next, this difference is the cause of unending tension between sellers and back office. The latter are the ones that will make the sale happen — Finance in the previous example. Usually technical in thinking, most back office staff share a common irritation, which they express derogatorily: “Hawa watu wa sales, wanadanganya customers, and leave us to clear their mess” (Sales people lie to customers). From their (process) perspective, they are right. From the seller’s (results) perspective he didn’t lie, he just said enough to close. Sellers will understand that statement, technical staff will be irritated by it. But as buyer, do you really want all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted before you buy?

If insurance companies insisted that their agents explain every clause in the contract when selling, buyers would be asleep before they finish.

Finally, this selling-buying difference should guide the seller to sell to how the customer buys and accelerate the close. For instance, the realtor who understands it insists on the husband coming with the wife to view the house. He knows that the man of the house may be doing the querying but it’s the woman in charge that will give the nod. Our oil seller will include as part of signing the contract the onboarding process too, assuming it does not delay the sale. It means sellers should understand and manage buying process.

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