The Domestication of Buyers and Sellers

Tens of thousands of years ago, in Southeast Asia, humans developed a relationship with wolves. You might imagine that as humans hunted for food that all kinds of scavengers might have followed behind them, stealing what they could and cleaning up any remains. At some point, as a predator or a group of rival humans approached, the wolves may have alerted the humans, providing a warning that benefited the humans.

No doubt, the wolves that were friendlier and less skittish might receive additional rewards, the positive reinforcement causing the quickest learning wolves how to elicit that reaction—and on command. And then, there are wolf pups. It is possible that tens of thousands of years in the past, humans still found puppies to be irresistibly cute.

And in this way, wolves domesticated the human, training them to take care of their every need, including food, shelter, grooming, and love. Wait. You thought we domesticated the wolf? To believe this, you must not own a dog.

Who Made Who?

This same relationship exists between the salesperson and their client. When one approaches a client in a self-oriented way, the response is negative, all but the most conflict averse prospects easily resisting anything that feels like high pressure. An approach that is other-oriented is rewarded with additional meetings and, eventually, new business.

When you start a conversation with an approach that doesn’t interest or engage your prospect, you lose their attention. If you start a dialogue around ideas and insights that are relevant and interesting, you gain your dream client’s attention and interest. When you work to help your prospective client produce better strategic outcomes, they tend to buy from you.

There is a lot of talk about how much faster buyers evolve than sellers, hyperbole from those who make a living by selling salespeople the idea that have been disempowered, disintermediated, and will soon disappear. The truth is that buyers and sellers, much like humans and dogs, have evolved together. When buyers need something different, salespeople adjust their approach until something works. When sellers adjust what they are doing, like starting a conversation around something that creates greater value for their client, buyers respond positively, even when they had no idea what they needed from a salesperson.

The idea that buyers no longer need salespeople is incorrect. And we will continue to evolve together for the foreseeable future.

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