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Monday, October 11, 2010

Mistakes Customers Make

Or put another way - dysfunctional buying practices..

over the past 20 years I have seen countless dysfunctional buying practices perpetuated by company policy and individual assertions. some of these dysfunctional buying practices, are a result of dysfunctional selling practices that have arisen over the past few decades. At some point we all better start working together to develop real win-win scenarios or we will be finding ourselves at the back of the economic food chain as a nation.

BNET recently published an article on the Top 10 Mistakes Customers Make. Fortunately I have only seen a few of these in my career. the ones I have have most often seen are.

  • MISTAKE #10: Overestimating their buying authority - Right before the deal is made they reveal that some other person or group of people need to approve the purchase.
  • MISTAKE #9: Negotiating a Win/Lose deal - The customer insists that the deal must be written up in such a way that they get extraordinarily advantageous terms.
  • MISTAKE #8: Buying for the wrong reason - A customer buys a product because he simply wants to please you or it is what most other people seem to be using, etc.
  • MISTAKE #7: Valuing sizzle over steak - The customer wants to buy your product because of a feature that’s irrelevant to its ability to solve a problem or achieve a goal.
  • MISTAKE #5: Delegating Purchasing/Negotiations - Customer delegates buying authority to a purchasing group, often eliminating innovatinve new companies in exchange for "pre approved" solutions.
  • MISTAKE #4: Windowshopping - A customer asks for information, demonstrations, and agrees to meetings but in fact has no intention whatsoever of buying, either from you or a competitor.
  • MISTAKE #1: Buying from an inferior competitor - You know you have the right product for the prospect, but the prospect buys from somebody who doesn’t.

OK, so maybe I have been witness to most of them. You can read all 10 mistakes here.

Again, these practices have evolved over time and not necessarily via the fault of the salesperson. Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig, in their book aptly titled ‘LET’S GET REAL, OR LET’S NOT PLAY’, make it clear that bad buying is as common as bad selling. They point out that when buyers don’t trust sellers, dysfunctional buying practices result, such as:

  • RFP practices that hide and protect vital information, and restrict personal contact.
  • Sellers having no alternative but to guess what their customers want
  • Buyers expect sellers to make large upfront commitments of time and energy
  • Sellers are expected to reveal proprietary knowledge and to present an immediate solutions to problems that may have existed for years.

Although both sides own the problem, it is up to the salesperson to strive for a solution say the authors. That is to create a mutually beneficial dialogue that is consultative, value based and integrity driven.

So why is that so many "customers" simply deny "trusted" vendors with information needed to create truly win/win scenarios. I think part of the issue is that no matter how many times a customer may say they want a partnership, they just do not get past thinking of their "trusted partners as vendors" and thus never truly trust them with all the information that may be available.

Imagine going to your Dr. and treating them like a vendor...

doc I think I have a serious illness.. the Dr. asks , so where does it hurt?. you respond. I am not a liberty to discuss that at this time. Dr. asks. how long have you noticed the problem? you respond, I am not sure. Dr. asks can I take some of your vitals? you respond, only after you provide me with an initial guess as to what is wrong.

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