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Buyer Readiness: teach the buyer to qualify themselves

Submitted by on Friday, 25 March 2011

Do you know when a buyer is ready to buy? Do you know what they must do to get ready? Do you know who else needs to be involved for them to be ready? Do you know the risks they face when considering bringing in a new solution – and how they will mitigate the change management issues prior to making a purchase?

Does your buyer know the answers to these questions? Because until they do, they won’t buy. And, even if you think you know the answers – which would be impossible as they are personal and idiosyncratic to each buying environment – that doesn’t help the prospect manage their status quo, which is a hands-on, trial-and-error exercise.

I bet you thought that because they have a problem/pain/needand you have a solution, that your prospects are ready to buy. Or because you did a great presentationand they seemed to like you. But you would have closed a lot more sales if it were that simple.

WHAT DOES A BUYER NEED BEFORE THEY CAN BUY?

What, exactly, does a buyer need to do to get ready to make a purchase?

Here are a few things that are essential for buyers to handle to be ready to buy. But do not, not for a moment, think that the sales model you are using will help the buyer get ready. Because the internal, off-line, idiosyncratic stuff they must manage is not needs-related, and cannot be resolved by a purchase. It’s a systems problem that can only be managed by the system.

Here are the issues buyers must manage before they are ready to buy:

1. get all of the Buying Decision Team on board. That means, everyone who will touch the solution. This is not as simple as it seems. And buyers don’t know at the start who needs to be involved. But unless everyone lends their voices, no purchase will happen.

2. in regards to how the system (the people, functions, relationships, job descriptions, etc.)will function once something new enters, understand the difference between what needs to change, what cannot change, and what will change – and how to mitigate these.

3.  discover who needs to buy-in, when, to what extent, and what role do they play as the Buying Decision Team is formed, and then when a new solution would come aboard.

4. manage the change – and recognize and manage each potential problem before the solution is purchased. Otherwisethere will be unknowable disruption. And the system the buyers live in is sacrosanct – or they would have known how to fix their problem earlier.

5. get appropriate buy-in, including people, policies, politics, old vendors, and make sure the new solution melds with their current solutions.

6. check out all possibilities for a fix – with a bias toward finding familiar vendors  used in the past.

7. organize the new roles, responsibilities, initiatives, and internal politics, and begin managing the potential fallout.

8. understand when all internal stuff is complete and know when to move forward – taking into account all of the criteria of all of the players (current and future).

On www.en.mimi.hu there is a definition that I find lacking: “Buyer readiness stages: categorize consumers  in terms of how close they are to making a purchase or a decision. Stages range from initial awareness, through to interest, desire and, finally, action.”

I believe that that definition ignores the entire back end of the buyer’s change management journey and is quite limited.

Let’s start a discussion on Buyer Readiness. I’ll start a new site. Let’s develop some models and training materials. I believe this is important for Qualifying and shortening the sales cycle.

The big question is: what do you need to be doing differently to help buyers enter into Buyer Readiness early in the buying journey? Given it’s not currently part of the sales model, how will you approach this? May I, ahem, suggest you read one of my books, or listen to some of my podcasts. And when you get convinced that you need skills in addition to your sales skills, you can contact me.

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