All Posts

March 19, 2024

What are your buyers buying? Hint: NOT what you’re selling!

I think most people with sales responsibility – full-time salespeople and seller-doers – understand that being successful at selling is essentially about being successful at solving your clients’ problems. And they’d be right.

But here’s the rub… too many salespeople think that what they sell IS the solution to their clients’ problems. And when that’s their mindset – especially for seller-doers at research agencies – they spend all of their time talking to potential buyers about their methodologies, or their cool technology, or the new industry pro they just hired. And that’s understandable… It’s where they’re most comfortable and what they know.

But it’s wrong!

Your clients don’t have research problems… they have business problems that they need research to help solve. So, talk to them about their business problems – declining market share, trouble innovating new products, unproductive advertising, a changing target market, etc. because THAT’s what they’re buying… solutions to these problems.

It would be like when I talk about our sales training workshop. Our buyers don’t have a ‘training’ problem, they have revenue growth issues, client retention challenges, client diversity problems, etc., so that’s what I talk about with them.

So, how do you come to understand a client’s true underlying problem? Simple, ask good questions. OK, it’s simple… but it ain’t easy.

For example, a prospective buyer says they’d like to talk with you about a gen-pop survey. Do not respond with, “Great! What are the specs?” Instead, ask them what they’re trying to achieve and about the problems they’re trying to address. Ask them about the target audience. Ask them about the specific needs of their marketing and brand management team (those who need the results of the research, in the first place). And as they answer, keep drilling down to get to the root cause of their needs.

When you do that, you’ll have all the information you need to put together a targeted proposal. Or, you might determine that a survey (in this example) is not the best methodology to help them solve their problem and that you have a more effective solution. When you offer up smart alternatives like that, you’ll be showcasing your expertise and building credibility with your buyer.


Remember, when it comes to a buyer’s needs, things are not always as they seem… so, the responsibility rests with you – the salesperson – to figure out their real needs and work to solve them.

And here’s the thing… most of your competitors won’t be doing this. They’ll be serving as ‘order-takers,’ not acting as a true ‘consultant,’ like you!

Good luck and good selling.

Search Site: