Selling: It is all about finding a good buyer

I have been in Sales for about 10 years from lead generation to closing to sales management. I have sold at large tech companies and have been the only boots on the ground at small start ups. But no matter what company I have been at my process is always the same. I look for a good buyer.

How do you find a good buyer? How do you find someone who will go out of their way to get a deal done for you before the end of a month or who will bring you along when they change jobs?

Well, it comes with understanding what motivates that person. There is an old adage “No one ever got fired for buying IBM” but the part they forget to tell you is no one ever got promoted for buying IBM either. A good buyer is ambitious. A good buyer is motivated. It is your job to understand their motivations whether it is a promotion, a raise, a better share price or even just an increase in their own reputation.

If you understand their motivation it becomes so much easier to frame your pitch, to justify your cost, to establish a compelling event because all of a sudden it matters to them. Everyone is aware that there are many paths to achieve the success they are looking for. It is your job to show them that you understand their end goal and will help them find the most efficient path to achieving it.

I used to work at Salesforce.com and would consistently find myself frustrated with the lack of movement in my deals. I would finish my phone calls and immediately run over to my manager, so excited about the opportunity. I would tell them how the Vp of Sales loved my pitch about how their sales team was going to be more organized, more efficient and was going to be able to provide a better service to their customers.

My manager would let me get through my review and would then stop me. She would ask can a sales team be organized on a spreadsheet? Can they provide great customer service with email? I was deflated as I realized I was missing the point. So I began to change my process and asking various sales leaders what motivated them.

Well in many of my conversations with VP’s you start figuring out they care about a few things. They care about revenue growth sure but what they really cared about is a presentation to their CEO of how the team is performing every week. They would talk about the need in getting access to the data and finding understanding in why the business was trending in one direction or another. When I began to frame my conversations around those capabilities and how by deploying Salesforce their weekly meetings with their CEO had the potential to go, I started to find I had very motivated buyers.

At Wizeline it is often a similar story. Sure I can talk about how amazing our roadmap is or how you will be able to capture feedback in real time. But in working with product leaders I have found they are focused on delivering great products but also they are motivated in justifying their decisions to non product members and to the executive team. So we asked how do they present their process and roadmap to the rest of the company? Who do you have to present to and justify your decisions to? So when we talk about the 2 paths in highlighting their teams work they can either stick with a static powerpoint presentation or they can show them a living presentation where any data point is one click away.

It is so crucial to understand how a buyer is motivated because it ultimately helps you decide if you should walk away or push forward hard knowing you can help them. It is why at every job I have ever had the first thing I do is find the person at my company who has the job title of the person I will be selling to and I ask them “How do you show your are successful at your job?” Once I understand that I can sell better, we can onboard customers better, and ultimately we can build better products.

So how do I sell? I don’t. I find a good buyer.