Who Cares What Sellers Want?

Who_Cares_What_Sales_WantsObviously we do if we’re selling or managing sales. But buyers (aka prospects or customers) have no reason to care. They receive no benefit by helping sales people.

As dumb and basic as this sounds, most sales people still work as if this wishful thinking were true. They expect buyers to do the sellers’ work, helping sales people sell.

Doubt this? Ask a salesperson to answer the following:

  • What message do you leave on buyers’ voicemail that gets a return call?
  • What do you email buyers that gets a reply?
  • How do you get buyers to call you from your web site or direct mail piece?
  • How do you get a face-to-face intro appointment with buyers?
  • How do you elicit open & honest communication with a buyer you’ve just met?
  • How do you gain a buyer’s trust so they share complete & thorough information about their situation?
  • How do you secure a face-to-face meeting to submit your proposal to a buyer? (when not part of an RFP process)
  • How do you engender fair & value-based consideration of your proposal
  • How do you get timely & honest feedback from buyers after your proposal & presentation?

2X Questions

Tough questions to be sure, but asking them provides focus and can mobilize sales efforts to come up with answers, even though the first ones may not be ideal.

They’re also trick questions too.

Because whatever the answers are they’re describing what sellers want – not what buyers want. And to win sales means satisfying buyers’ wants.

Those seller’s questions can help translate seller’s wants into buyer’s wants. For each question above try to:

1) Identify a matching buyer want, then

2) Develop an action that satisfies the buyer’s want

When sales people can do this successfully they’re able to advance the sale to the next step, and the next, and the next, right up to the buyer signing.

What Buyers Want

Buyers want many things, but you already knew that. Their wants can be grouped into Business-Related and Personal-Related. Here’s a simple list for both:


  • High-value suppliers sourced & vetted
  • Trusted supplier-partnerships established
  • Vendor/service management time reduced
  • Costs lowered
  • Defects/deficiencies minimized
  • Output/yield/throughput increased
  • Customer satisfaction raised
  • End-user productivity raised
  • Value from spend optimized
  • Service contributions valued
  • Service performance visibility
  • Regulatory compliace ensured


  • Recognized for personal successes
  • Justified budget & headcount
  • Tasked with high visibility/importance initiatives
  • Increased job security
  • Optimized performance-based bonuses

Connecting the Wants to Actions

The exercise of translating seller’s wants into buyer’s wants, then developing seller’s actions might look something like this:

SELLER’S WANT: To elicit open & honest communication with a buyer you’ve just met.

BUYER’S WANT: To find high-value suppliers that can become trusted supplier-partners.


a) Present evidence to buyers of seller’s long-term valued customer partnerships, in testimonials, case studies, white papers, videos, etc. – avoid bragging

b) Get buyers together with your reference customers, at lunches, in seminars, in benchmarking groups, on site tours of your references’ facility, etc.

c) Tell buyers what you’re going to do, do it, and then confirm that you did it. Do this in everything, especially¬† little things, like calling back on a certain day and time, emailing materials, etc. Always follow up with a call, voice or email to show you met your follow-up commitment. Your actions live the promise of reliability and trust that buyers want.

d) Plan and implement a series of small events/activities during the initial contact period that deliver value specifically to what the buyer is interested in. This means fact finding early and repeatedly so that you’re delivering specifically what they’re looking for. Even if it’s as simple as a restaurant recommendation.

In the End

Our success as sellers is based on first identifying what we want and then translating those into buyers’ wants. Once done, we can focus on how best to deliver and get both.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue IQ

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