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Mar 15 / gary

A Non-Supportive Buy Cycle – How it undermines the success of your salespeople and how to fix it!

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“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand!”

Robert Louis Stephenson

Observers of human behaviour will tell us that we are attracted to two types of people, those people that are like us and those that like us! This simple observation is vitally important in understanding how our salespeople interact with their potential customers. Our acceptance of other people and their beliefs is strongly aligned with our own beliefs and behaviours.

Imagine for a moment that you are a salesperson. As with all people, you have developed buying habits over the years that have become a part of you.

  • Like many people you may have a tendency to thoroughly research each significant purchase before making a buying decision.
  • You may go online and read reviews of what it is you are interested in buying.
  • You may compare brands to see which has what feature or benefit.
  • Once armed with this information you may go to 2 or 3 stores to look for the best deal and,
  • Once you have reached this point it may be time to call in the “better half” to get their “buy in” to the purchase.

There is nothing unusual about any or all of these buying behaviours as they make up your “Record Collection”; the beliefs that you have accumulated over time that make up who you are.

In a salesperson, these buying habits can manifest themselves in a number of ways that go towards undermining your ability to close sales. The most important of these is how our own non-supportive buying habits impact on our long term sales success.

“How you buy is how you sell”

According to Objective Management Group (OMG) who have assessed over 500,000 salespeople for more than 8,500 companies, a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle is the most important and second most common weakness, handicapping salespeople from achieving their true potential. They go on to say:

When a candidate has a non-supportive Buy Cycle it indicates that the manner in which this person goes about the process of buying something for him/herself does not support the selling process.

Impact: This candidate will be vulnerable to prospects who buy the same way as he/she does.  If the prospect wants to ‘think it over’ and that’s what the salesperson usually does, no technique will be effective because the salesperson understands the stall.  Same goes for price shoppers, comparison shoppers and researchers.

The natural corollary of this type of non-supportive buy cycle is the decisive or in extreme cases, the impulsive salesperson that makes immediate buying decisions often to their own detriment. These highly decisive decision makers, in a sales environment, are not predisposed to accept the “put offs” of potential clients. They are not susceptible to prospects that wish to shop around or look for a better price. They wouldn’t behave like this themselves and as such they cannot understand why the prospect would find it difficult to make a buying decision.

The harsh reality is that we need our salespeople to be decision makers and have supportive buy cycles because according to additional data from OMG, only 44% of the 55,000 salespeople that were evaluated in 2010 were hitting their sales targets.

A non-supportive buy cycle will prevent sales from being closed because the salespeople will be susceptible to the stall and delays that prospective clients throw up at them. They will buy into their reasons for not making an immediate buying decision which will invariably lead to pipeline bloat; prospects that remain in the pipeline with relatively few of them being closed or eliminated.

So often a salesperson with this weakness will be convinced that the prospect will eventually buy from them. Once they have carried out more research or checked on what else is available they believe that they will come back to them. This is unlikely to occur as the salesperson will not have fully qualified the prospect or gained an understanding of the real needs and problems that they are looking to solve. Where a non-supportive buy cycle exists, the sales process is stopped immediately the prospect uses one of their delaying tactics. If a prospect wants to think it over or do some comparisons, they have effectively stopped the sales call. No techniques will be effective in regaining control of the sales call because the salesperson understands the stall.

So, what can we do to overcome this problem within ourselves and our sales team?

If you recognise this selling weakness in yourself or your sales team, that’s a great start. It’s important to understand that these are usually hidden problems; they’re not a criticism of us as people but a very common weakness that blocks us from being successful in sales.

Start now to change the way you think, start coaching those around you to help them overcome their indecisiveness when buying.

I’ve listed a few key strategies for success that you can adopt by shifting the way you think. These will help you get this selling weakness under control.

  • Identify which of your buying behaviours are not supportive of your selling objectives and list how they might undermine you in when dealing with your prospects.
  • Be alert during the sales call of stall or put offs that relate to your own buying weaknesses and develop strategies to counter these stalls and overcome your tendency to buy in to them.
  • Debriefing by your sales manager after each sales call helps to identify where you remain susceptible to these stalls or delays.
  • Break your buying pattern by making a relatively large purchase without hesitation.
  • Trust yourself when making buying decisions and then stick with them.
  • Stop looking for validation of your decisions and have more faith in yourself.

Understand the negative impact that a non-supportive buy cycle has had on your sales career. From this time on focus on what you now seek from your client – a decision!

One Comment

  1. Garrett Stroud / Aug 31 2011

    While I mostly agree with the above assessment, nothing applies to %100 percent of sales people or people in general. I am an educated buyer in my personal life, but after exceeding my sales goals for five years that obviously does not apply to my sales approach and demeanor. Why is there no allowance for anomalies or atypical sales people? That in itself would seem overly stereotypical.
    Garrett Stroud

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