Stop Selling to the Platonic Buyer

There are a lot of generalizations about buyers being bandied about here on the internet.  Here are some you should be aware of:

  • You have no doubt read about buyers being 57 percent through their buying process before engaging with a salesperson (an idea that has been misinterpreted by frauds and phonies and charlatans).
  • There is much lecturing about how much research buyers are doing before making a purchase, there being so much information available, the implication is that buyers know as much as salespeople.
  • Ideas are put out, with such certainty, about what buyers value and what they resist, most of this coming from people who stand to gain from feeding you fear so they can gain financially.
  • Then, there is the idea that buyers don’t accept phone calls.

This is the platonic buyer. This is a theory about buyers in general, not the buyer. Even if there is research to back up these assertions about buyers, they are not likely accurate as it pertains to any one buyer.

On average, a man is 5’10 inches tall. If you are a tailor or a retailer, you should stock suits for men of this height, that being the average and the point of greatest need—and profitability. Using this fact to make the decision as to what kind of suits to carry is to believe that a generalization is universally true.

Your buyer may not be 5’10. They may be 6’4 or 5’3. One contact within your prospective client’s company may indeed be precisely 57 percent through the process of making a complex decision they only make twice in their lifetime. Meanwhile, the rest of their team may be far behind them, maybe at, say, something less than 5 percent through that same process. I am talking about real contacts here, not the platonic kind.

Let’s assume the platonic buyer knows as much as you from surfing the internet (I know, this is difficult to imagine, but stay with me here). So, in a couple of hours of reading God knows what on the internet, your platonic buyer has gained all the insight and wisdom of someone who has worked with hundreds or thousands of clients over the course of their career? Let’s use something like Enterprise Resource Planning software as an example. The person who makes a decision to buy ERP might make that decision once or twice in their lifetime, hoping against hope that it will only be one time. How could they know what an experienced salesperson knows?

The platonic buyer doesn’t take phone calls. In real life, many buyers do take phone calls, even if it isn’t easy to trade them enough value for them to agree to a meeting. But those are two different ideas. The refusal to meet is less about the medium and much more about the value of meeting.

Don’t focus on trying to win the platonic buyer’s platonic business. Focus instead on serving the real people who work inside your dream client companies. They have very real challenges and opportunities, and they very much need your help.

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