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CHAPTER 9

For Buyers Only

If you think selling is hard, try being a buyer.

—Randy Schwantz

Being a buyer is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet

for two obvious reasons. First, you have limited time.

Second, you have limited money. Even if you had all the time

in the world and an unlimited budget, it would still be a difficult

job. To me, the most difficult part of being a buyer is trying

to sort out the differences in products and services.

Because that is so difficult, too often buyers leverage their

almighty dollar to bust the chops of sellers. Why? Because

the money aspect is the easiest thing to compare. Needless to

say, this book has been about helping sellers do a better job of

getting inside their own heads, discovering their own differences,

and finding a better way to convey those differences to

you, the buyer, in order to make your job easier.

Having spent many thousands of hours with sellers,

I know that many of them have a very difficult time communicating

their differences. Many sellers have never

thought about what all those features and benefits really

mean to you, the buyer. So why a chapter for you, the

buyer, in a book on selling? My reason is simple. As a

buyer, you have a lot to gain from helping sellers be better

at communicating. Sellers have the capability to save

you time, energy, and money, but I believe you have to

help them use that capability.

On the Edge

I know that most sellers would be offended by my telling

you this, because most of them believe they are great communicators.

In many ways they are, but in some ways they

aren’t. So I’m going out on the edge and make a suggestion

to you, the buyer, on how to get the most from the sellers

calling on you.

I’m hoping that you have a whiteboard in your office.

If not, then imagine that you do. I’m suggesting that,

when the salesperson arrives, you conduct your part of the

sales call about the same way that I conduct a sales meeting.

I’m hoping that unlike most buyers, who either sit behind

their power desk or politely move over to the little

round table, you’ll go right up to the whiteboard with a

marker in your hand.

I believe that a person who runs a sales meeting

should be part facilitator and part journalist. I’d encourage

you to use these same skills I learned that enable me to

conduct a strategy session with salespeople before they go

on sales calls. So now you’re up there at the whiteboard,

conducting your part of a sales call with a seller who has

stopped by your office.

As you know, there is an information battle going on

in most seller/buyer settings. Since you as the buyer have

more power, you should be more gracious in setting the

tone for the meeting by reducing the information battle

and talking about your own needs and wants. Too many

sales calls start off with the seller’s asking questions of the

buyer, and with the buyer’s responding in general that

everything is fine except for price. I suppose that is okay,

but it is not much of an intellectual response from the

buyer. That’s why I encourage you to cut through the

games, respect the time of the seller the same as your own,

and immediately start the facilitation process.

I’d encourage you to move very rapidly to the whiteboard.

Then, I wish you would start the interview process

using your journalistic skills, and visually map out what the

seller is telling you.

The buyer-seller game is interesting in that most buyers

believe that the better they are at withholding information,

the more power they maintain. Perhaps they do

maintain power, but in the process of withholding information

they lose out on effectiveness.

Let me give you an example. One of the best buyerseller

meetings I’ve ever had was the one I mentioned previously

with Doug Owen of Summit Global Partners.

Doug came to visit with me. He was a very intelligent man,

very confident and willing to engage. We started the meeting

with the same chitchat that most meetings start with,

and then he kindly told me his objectives. He told me what

he knew about his situation and what his challenges were.

Unlike many buyers, he didn’t pretend that things were

better than they really were. He just told it like it was. He

then asked my opinion about what could be done. As I began

to talk, Doug moved toward the whiteboard and began

mapping out my thoughts and strategies. This whole effort

epitomized what I think of as collaboration, partnering,

and synergy. It also helped me remain relevant to his cause.

In hindsight, I can tell you that what we did was utilize

the skills from Chapter 5 on the VISION BOX. The result was

a proposal that concretely matched Doug’s desires, something that he could sell to his CEO with passion. The bottom

line was pretty amazing. As a buyer he was very excited

about what he was about to get. As a seller, I was pleased

and confident in our plan of action. The results, as we noted

earlier, were even more impressive, a 20:1 return on investment

after he had hoped for a 10:1 return. Twelve months

into the program, his expectations were more than realized.

Two Kinds of Buyers and Sellers

There is a lesson in this for all buyers and sellers. There is

no doubt in my mind that there are two kinds of sellers and

two kinds of buyers. There are many sellers who are BS

artists. I would be on your side if you immediately threw

them out of your office at the first hint or smell that they

are stretching the truth and are focused purely on themselves.

The other type of seller is genuine, smart, real, and

interested in helping make your life better. Likewise there

are buyers whose egos are so inflated that they, too, are BS

artists. They withhold valuable information and play power

games. I advise sellers to run from these buyers as quickly as

possible. Life is too short. However, there are buyers who

are very solid, genuine, forthcoming, and engaging.

I’m hoping that with the information in this book, more

buyers and sellers will engage in collaborative and meaningful

conversation, resulting in greater prosperity for each

other, and the creation of long-term, satisfying relationships.