I have often written about how complexity wastes time and resources and as an outcome wastes money. Today I am going to talk about the empowered buyer and the negative impacts that this phenomenon has on sales and sales people. As an introduction though I would like to pass on an observation or two from comments I have heard at a couple of recent events I have attended. There is an obsession, if not a self-fulfilling prophecy about how difficult selling has become. Part of this is the statement that “the buyer is 57% of the way through their buying process before engaging with a salesperson”. Many others would argue that it closer to 67%

This statement originally came from the Corporate Executive Board, now part of Gartner, following extensive research. However, the cynic in me said they have an ulterior motive; the statement supported the Challenger Sale methodology they were peddling at the time.

Enough of that, although I do agree there are many instances where the statement could be true. For example, if a buyer is looking for a commodity, then a lot of research can be done and all that is left is the beauty (price) parade. However, even that can be avoided if the right approach is taken by the seller.

Let’s look at what an empowered buyer looks like. She or he is just a person with internet access. Never before has so much information been available. You don’t need to invite salespeople to tell you about their products, it’s there and you can research it in your time. You don’t have to advertise the fact that you’re seeking help, merely drawing up a list of potential contenders all of whom you believe can do the job. This person is aided and abetted by their colleagues in procurement, the formal buyers or purchasing officers who are working really hard to neutralise sellers’ USPs (unique selling propositions) so all they have to do is call for and host the tender process. Job done!

So, if you are selling office products, catering equipment or any number of simple products and services, the only skill, buyers think you need is being best at guessing the winning bid, provided your company is able to make a margin on it. As stated earlier I agree that in certain situations selling is becoming more difficult and if you hear it or are told it often enough you can quickly believe it.

But, sellers are also empowered; they have the same access to masses of information as buyers, the best are insightful, they don’t fight on the same battlefield as professional purchasers and they do not subscribe to the “it’s becoming harder” theory. In the next issue of the SalesPulse we will explore the world of the empowered seller.

The SalesPulse Insight – Professionalising Selling

Over the last nine months, Koru supported by ADM Computing, Aliaxis and WBS Group, has been working with The Association of Professional Sales, BT, Royal Mail, Whitbread, BAE Systems, SIG plc, Consalia. Kimberley Clark and a number of universities to develop a degree level apprenticeship for a Sales Professional. I am pleased to say that the apprenticeship has been approved by the Institute for Apprentices. While there is still work to do, we are quietly optimistic that the apprenticeship will be ready for the first students in the Autumn this year. Early in June we will be issuing a special edition of the SalesPulse dedicated to this subject. This is a great opportunity for companies of all sizes to improve their selling capabilities, with help from the government’s apprenticeship levy fund.