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Aligning with Customer Buying Behavior

By Tim Deuitch

Are your customers confused and frustrated by your selling process? Do you understand how your customers value your product or service? In this video, Tim Deuitch, Vice President - Client Success at Strategic Enhancement Group, and Bob Parks, Managing Partner, discuss the importance of aligning with a customer's buying behavior to increase your sales.

Tim Deuitch: 00:01 I'm Tim Deuitch, Vice President - Client Success at Strategic Enhancement Group. Today, I'm joined by our Managing Partner, Bob Parks. Welcome, Bob.

Bob Parks: 00:18 Well, thanks for having me.

Tim Deuitch: 00:20 Our topic is about the importance of alignment with a customer's buying behavior, the way they want to buy. One of my best friends is a tremendous salesperson. He owns a winery, and he loves to sell to customers at farmers' markets. When they approach his table, he uses a three-part approach that is simple, authentic, and fun. "What would you like to taste today? Here's a sample," and "Does that work for you or would you like to try another?" 80% of his visitors buy one or more bottles right there on the spot. 15 cases he sells in five hours.

Tim Deuitch: 01:01 My friend is aligning perfectly with the transactional customer's buying behavior. At this moment, that customer needs just a little bit of education; they need to participate if they want, to choose what they want, and they need to make it easy or to have it be easy for them to buy. But, Bob, they're not always this easy, are they?

Bob Parks: 01:24 They are most definitely not, but your friend is perfectly aligned with the transactional customer. But because of the factors you mentioned, some of his customers may not be very loyal.

Tim Deuitch: 01:37 Let's define what we mean by aligning with buying behaviors. You're in alignment when you provide a buying experience that makes it easy for the customer to buy what's required to solve their problem or meet their interest. Simple, right, Bob?

Bob Parks: 01:52 Well, what gets in the way most of the time is the salesperson not understanding what type of buying experience to provide  – one that is easy for the customer to buy and meets their needs. When there is alignment with the customer buying behavior, creating value for the customer is more effective, the seller's ROI is better, and there is less tension in the buying process.

Tim Deuitch: 02:18 Aligning begins with this rule of thumb that's really counterintuitive. We analyze a customer's buying behavior based on the opportunity presented to us and not the person or the account itself. I've made the mistake plenty of times that if I had a good relationship with a client, I assume I have a solid chance to win most opportunities, or that I must establish my definition of a "relationship" first if I didn't know them.

Bob Parks: 02:48 Most sellers (salespeople) prefer relationship buying behaviors, while most buyers prefer transactional buying behaviors. To the salesperson, relationship-buying behavior feels more secure, more collaborative. If it aligns well, customers typically buy over a longer timeframe, and they are generally more loyal. On the other hand, transactional buying behavior can feel quick; sometimes the customer often wants and they don't need a lot of help from us, so they feel less loyal.

Tim Deuitch: 03:21 At the core of aligning well is recognizing whether an opportunity is relationship-based, one that's often a longer sales cycle requiring trust building and discovery with multiple people, or it can be transactional in nature. Usually, that's faster. It's a lower-risk purchase, easy to implement, and it also involves an empowered decision-maker who can just go ahead and decide.

Tim Deuitch: 03:46 Bob, let's start with relationship-buying behaviors. How does the salesperson make this process as easy as possible for the buyer?

Bob Parks: 03:55 Well, Tim, a few things stand out like, relationship buyers value our technical expertise, our product strategy, and they need us to be stable and predictable. Transactional buyers, on the other hand, usually treat our product or service like a commodity. They care about features, price, and delivery.

Bob Parks: 04:21 When trying to decide where your prospect is, it's very helpful to look at these three areas. First of all, what's the cost to switching suppliers? Complex sales can be expensive for customers to switch suppliers and disruptive to their own processes and protocols. A salesperson that helps the buyers think through all implications and risk is highly valued by the buyer. High cost to switch suppliers equal relationship. Low cost to switch suppliers equals transaction.

Bob Parks: 04:55 Integrated solutions is another thing to think about. With a relationship buyer, a solution may cross departments; the salesperson needs to know how it impacts all involved. In this case, be aware of establishing a single relationship when other influencers are involved.

Bob Parks: 05:14 The other thing to remember is low expertise. If the buyer needs your expertise as much as your solution, you have two levels of trust to earn. Relationship buyers need to believe in your knowledge, and they also need to have confidence in your solution. If the need for expertise is high, you have a relationship buyer. If the need is low, well, it's likely a transactional buyer.

Tim Deuitch: 05:42 There's a lot of work required in relationship situations, but the ROI is significant. Let's take a closer look at the transactional buyer. They care about features, price, and delivery, and they want the process to move faster. Here are a few indicators of that.

Tim Deuitch: 06:01 One is they already have the expertise. They don't need your knowledge. Your value is in being a solution source for them. Second is, they have a standalone solution, and this might be all they're seeking. If the buy is a commodity or a one-off need, they'll want an easy selection process and resist irrelevant to them or time-consuming requests. Thirdly, if there's minimal or no customization, if an off-the-shelf solution can be just what they need and easy to implement, that's all they want.

Bob Parks: 06:36 Don't most salespeople want to establish relationships in hopes of generating greater sales?

Tim Deuitch: 06:42 Well, sure. But at SEG, we believe, "Customers buy from people they're comfortable with." Aligning with how they want to buy increases their comfort level, and over time, that's the key, over time, this comfort gives you the chance to earn more business. Plus, the sales organization spends its time and money where it's needed and offers the greatest ROI.

Tim Deuitch: 07:08 In other words, this is an example of the power of slowing down in order to go faster. Let's review our top three areas to aligning with the buyer.

Bob Parks: 07:18 First, the buying opportunity is the key, not the account itself. Always clarify how the buyer wants to buy and align accordingly.

Tim Deuitch: 07:29 Second, only the customer's perspective matters. While we can offer help in varied ways, the customer must believe that our help is necessary in order to ensure a strong buying decision.

Bob Parks: 07:42 Third, the customer's comfort level is what matters most. They must believe you want to make the buying process as easy as possible.

Tim Deuitch: 07:53 Strategic Enhancement Group offers a half-day course that digs well under the surface of this topic. It teaches the potential and limits of aligning with a buyer, how to do a buying behavior analysis, and it helps salespeople increase their confidence in adjusting their approach to align with the customer's preference.

Tim Deuitch: 08:12 To learn more about how to tackle the problems sales professionals deal with every day, visit StrategicEnhancementGroup.com.

Published: June 19, 2024

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Tim Deuitch

Vice President - Client Success

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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