What is Buyer Enablement? Well, first let me ask you two seemingly obvious questions about B2B sales:
- Who is in charge of selling?
- Who is in charge of buying?
Most would answer that the B2B sales team is in charge of selling and the prospect and any accompanying influencers and decision makers (aka the “buying group”) are in charge of buying.
It’s just the opposite. The B2B sales team is in charge of buying and the buyer is in charge of selling.
I promise, I'm not trying to make it sound confusing. I'll explain.
buyer enablement is exerting leadership in the B2B buying process and equipping your champion to do the selling for you inside their organization.
Let’s look at selling first.
You Are Not in Charge of Selling, the Buyer Is
Buyer enablement means you are shifting your mindset from selling to enabling the buyer(s). Instead of the focus being on you, the focus is on them. What this means is that yes, you need to sell (persuade, educate, consult, etc) the initial champion, but after that, you need to empower and equip the champion to sell for you. While you can help, the internal champion is the one who is going to get the deal done for you internally.
So who is doing the selling? You or the buyer? The buyer! That initial buyer has to sell to the rest of the buying group. In truth, you’ll both be selling to the buying group, but largely the buying group is going to look to the internal change agent, or champion (also called the “mobilizer” as CEB likes to call them), to lead them through the process of making a purchase decision. You are just an enabler.
The Buyer is not in Charge of Buying, You Are
How many times has your buyer experienced the buying analysis and process to purchase the product or solution you are selling? Usually this is their first time. As an example, if they are purchasing a CRM, how many times do they purchase CRMs? In their career, this is likely the only time they’ve done it. Maybe one other time for long-time professionals.
How many times have you experienced the buying analysis and process to purchase the product or solution you are selling? You probably can’t count them. Depending on your product and industry and how long you’ve been in your role, perhaps hundreds of times. Whatever the case, you’ve been through it many more times than the buyer.
So who has more experience in the buying process? You do. Who needs to take charge and lead the buyer through the buying process? You do.
Too many sales reps ask the buyer, “What do you think are the next steps?” I’m not saying this is an irrelevant question or shouldn’t sometimes be part of the process, but generally speaking, buyers want you to exert leadership. Even if they don’t know, they need you to exert leadership. They don’t know what they should be doing. They don’t know the questions to ask, the relevant pros and cons to consider, the different roles of stakeholders they need to get involved to get the deal done and change implemented in their organization. They’ll know a few things, like some steps of the procurement process. But, as an example, how many times have you encountered a buyer that says, “I’m the decision maker” only to find out later that they aren’t? That’s not their bad, that’s yours. You should know that your type of product usually requires input and decision making from different roles inside their organization.
So I repeat, YOU are in charge of the buying process, not the buyer. Take the lead. Show them the way. They will appreciate it and you’ll get deals done faster.
How Do You Enable and Equip the Buyer So They Sell For You?
To understand what they need, you need to understand what is driving buyers, what they are thinking, and what the obstacles are to getting the deal done. Much of the time, as sellers, we don’t fully appreciate the motivations driving buyers, nor do we (nor they) have a full picture of what they need to overcome all of the obstacles they will encounter to get the deal done and implemented inside their organization.
The more clarity you have in both of those areas, the more quickly and more often you will succeed. This book will give you everything you need to full enable your buyers.
By in large, to take charge of the buying process, you need to make recommendations, then ask for commitments on their part. Tune in for Part 2 of Buyer enablement that covers three scenarios on how to take charge of the buying process - coming soon!