Your buying process effects how you do sales AND marketing.
Why!? In a sentence; How you buy can get in the way when you are trying to sell to someone who has the same buying process as you. You naturally empathize and put up with price negotiations, stalls, comparison shopping.
Some sales trainers call these objections. But this happens to marketing experts as well. If you buy that way, you will market that way just as you will sell that way. It effects not only how we sell and market, but also how we manage, and make business decisions in general. And so the dysfunctional cycle continues to grow by transfer and stagnating revenue growth.
(This is how we have always done things and it worked just fine!) Sound familar?
Which comes first, sales or marketing?
Marketing needs to be evaluated just like sales, but the review and application of the data is different. Why does marketing need to also be evaluated? Buy cycle isn't always the inability to buy, it's the inability to make a decision. Marketing is a sales function, marketing exists for sales. No sales, no need for marketing.
This reality factors into every single sales interaction (remember that marketing is a function of sales). Whether you sell to a board in NYC or an entrepreneur at a Chamber after hours, or with a client (customer service, like a marriage, means you are always selling [dating]), your buying process is your Modus operandi.
Recently, a client was complaining that his sales people are getting beat up on price, which is not where they can or should compete. Yet that is how they try to sell. Why? Because that is how they buy. They also tend to decide on price, not value. Here is how it gets in their way and is detrimental; not only because it creates a sales weakness, it might also cause them to make poor business decisions that could cost them their momentum and growth.
How do I know this is an issue (and why would I dare to point it this out to my client?) Despite the fact that traffic and leads are up, they are easily distracted by SEO ranking for a single generic keyword phrase. And for no other reason other than the guy who is beating them did a free site and does nothing with it. (btw-the same guy is also a part time entrepreneur and more of a spammer than a marketer, but that's another topic on another day.)
But it really bugs him, my long-time client, it's a thorn in his side. I can tell he wishes that it wasn't, but it is. (Why do we do the things we know we shouldn't and don't do the things we know we should? hmmm...) And since it is bugging him, it is bugging me. Though it may not be for the same reason.
How your personal buying decision making process effects how you make (other) business decisions.
Let's add some context to my client's story. His biggest current business problem is expanding production in order to meet demand. His customers are starting to refer him to their customers. They are beginning to enter new markets and channels. They have people lined up at the door. Lack of orders is not the problem.
Despite this, he knows that to capitalize on this momentum they need selling it right, the first time.
Who of you out there would care that you are not on page one for a generic, non-qualified, highly competitive keyword? Who out there would care that even when we get traffic for that one keyword (even though still not #1 in Google) that the free-guy beats him out for, it doesn't turn into leads that turn into customers?
Do you see how letting things distract you, that are related to your buy-cycle, can be detrimental to the business decisions you make? You are more likely accept price objections because that is how you buy. Say you grew up in a neighborhood where price negotiations are a way of life (If you need some practice handling price objections in sales, go to the North End of Bean-town and ask Vinny at the gift shop for a discount on the Red Sox hats. Vinny is real and so is the gift shop, I'll introduce you next time I'm in town...) It won't take long to learn and believe, its just how things are done, you can't avoid it!
Have you heard the one about the sales guy, the marketing gal, and the CEO?
So for you sales Jedi's out there, a question for you. When my client (In full disclosure- I told him I would be writing this post.), the 3rd generation owner of his small USA manufacturing firm in the southeast, said to me;
"Don't ever worry about offending anyone here. You can say whatever you want to anyone."
What precious understanding do you think it gave me???
For you marketing mavens, a question as well. When he said, (and I quote verbatim- his words not mine);
"Just because you have traffic, doesn't mean you have sales."
What would your first gut reaction have been? Fear or relief? Dare to guess what mine was? (stay tuned for comments, I will share it, I promise, but you first.)
For the entrepreneur or CEO reading (or listening); wouldn't you like to have my client's kind of problem of not being able to keep up with demand? Of bigger deals? New markets? Higher retention rates? You can start here.
If there is no doubt that buy-cycle is an issue; how does the issue manifest? Can it be fixed? Does the person with the issue have what it takes to fix it? Do they have the desire and commitment for their personally meaningful goal to do whatever it takes to fix it?
All good questions. All of which start with a sales assessment test to get the answer and solution (for marketing and leadership too!)