Selling Ain’t What It Used To Be

The way we take pictures has changed dramatically for the better. So too has the way contract services are purchased. Shouldn’t selling services change too?

The act of selling changed in a big way, and relatively recently too, less than 4-5 years ago.

This is clear when seeing Gartner’s B2B Buying Journey graphic, which is based on their research of 750 buyers (it also happens to be one of the busiest graphics ever).

Gartner's B2B Buying Journey

Click image to enlarge

But that graphic and research illuminates a profound sales truth: a truth I’d seen in my consulting but hadn’t recognized its full impact on selling. It’s this:

Customers don’t buy in straight lines. They jump around. They double back on buying tasks they may have already done and do them again a 2nd or 3rd time.

If Customers Don’t Buy in Straight Lines – How Can They Be Sold That Way?

Customers buying behavior should dictate how they’re sold to, right? Sellers should be serving customers’ buying needs when and where customers need them.

Another important part of Gartner’s research found when B2B customers…“are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with anyone sales rep may be only 5% or 6%.”

Taken together (the limited time customers spend with sellers and their jumping around), shows that customers find buying complex and selling ain’t what it used to be.

But many contemporary sales methods use linear models, step-after-step processes, and specific actions as if customers still buy in a straight line.

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It would be a good guess that some of the 268 million sales books, trainings, programs, and methodologies may have missed this profound change in the way customers’ buy.

A Simple Summary

It’s the current reality in selling that:

  • Customers’ buying jumps around
  • Selling that follows step 1, then step 2, then step 3 no longer works
  • Selling is no longer causal; A + B does NOT equal C

If sellers no longer sell, what do they do?

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