“Now you must let the buyer control the process. You need to be helpful.”
Add another platitude to the list of ideas about sales designed to make you feel good about selling, even though following the advice would be detrimental to your results–and the results of your prospective clients.
A reader sent me a link to a blog post. The author wrote that selling has changed and that now: “You have to learn to let the buyer control the process.” The author wrote that your job is to be “helpful” as the buyer goes through their journey.
There is nothing wrong with being helpful in a way that makes sense based on where your prospective buyer is in their journey. But the idea that you should allow them to control the process is a major mistake.
The Buyer Controlling The Process Is An RFP
When your buyer controls the process, it’s called a request for proposal.
How do you feel about your chances to win when you receive a request for proposal? Your buyer is controlling the process. But that means limiting—or eliminating—communication. It also means your buyer compares your pricing with your competitors on a spreadsheet. And it also means that they value the efficiency of the process more than value making the right selection when it comes to choosing a partner (why else would you have limited questions and 90 minutes to present?).
Your buyer doesn’t know what they don’t know.
- Your buyers don’t know that you need access to information to be able to create and deliver the best solution for them. Unless you ask for the commitment to provide you with that information.
- Your prospective clients also don’t know that you need access to different stakeholders within their company to build consensus around any solution–including yours. Unless you explain to them why you are asking to bring these stakeholders into the process.
- Your prospects don’t know that you need a meeting to review and refine your ideas and to ensure that everyone on their team gets what they need. They don’t know that the diagnosis needs to get to the strategic, root-cause issues if you’re going to help them as much as you are able.
The Process Is Your Job
You have to ask for all the commitments you need to do the very best work you can for your dream clients.
When you allow your buyer to control the process, they are doing so without knowing all they need to know to get what they need. Because you are not asking for the commitments, those commitments are not being gained, and you are not doing the work you should be doing for your dream client.
If you care about people, you’ll have the uncomfortable conversations. If you care about helping them get the results that they need, you will first sell them on the process as to how they get those results. And that means explaining the commitments you need and getting agreement on those commitments.
Professionals Sell the Process
Amateurs avoid the uncomfortable conversations. Amateurs wait and allow the customer to lead. Professionals engage in the necessary conversations even when they’re uncomfortable. Professionals lead.
You cannot be a trusted adviser without trust. And you cannot be a trusted adviser without advising your dream client. Allowing your buyer to control the process is an abdication of your responsibility.