I can imagine the raised eyebrows, the questioning expressions, and the thought, “What the hell is he talking about now? What kind of esoteric journey is he dragging us on?”

Some might glibly say, “Well to solve a problem….” Which is correct, kind of….

But most sales people seldom think about the purpose of buying. A customer wants to buy, sales people immediately leap to selling, knowing the purpose of selling is to get an order.*

At best, we focus on helping the customer buy, but seldom pause to think about the purpose of buying.

Buying doesn’t exist in a standalone context. Buying, in itself, doesn’t solve a problem. Buying always exists in a larger context of something the customer is trying to achieve. Yet, as sales people, at best we isolate our “helping” the customer to their buying activities and our consequent selling activities.

But what if we started trying to probe a little deeper to understand the purpose of buying?

Why are they buying? Perhaps to solve a problem/address an opportunity.

Why do they want to solve the problem? Perhaps because it is preventing them from doing things that are important to them.

Why are those things important to them? What are the consequences of not doing those things?

Why have they chosen to achieve those things in the way they are, with this particular problem/project? Are there alternative approaches they considered in solving the problem but have chosen not to do? Why did they choose not to do those? And the answer to this has absolutely nothing to do with your competition, but may be the source of your real competition.

Buying never exists in isolation, but is always just a part of what the customer is trying to do and the result of a number of choices they make (or should have made) to get to the part that involves buying.

But we limit ourselves and our ability to engage the customer in meaningful ways by just focusing on buying. Or in the worst, focusing on selling.

What would happen, if we started understanding the customer’s purpose of buying? How might we and the customer be more successful? How might that increase the value we can provide?

* This post was provoked by Charlie Green’s great post, The Purpose Of Sales.

SOURCEPartners in Excellence
Dave Brock
Dave Brock is the founder of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a consulting and services company helping to improve the effectiveness of business professionals with strategy development, organizational planning, and implementation. Dave has spent his career working for and with high performance organizations, ranging from the Fortune 25 to startups, including companies such as IBM, HP, Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft, General Electric, and many, many more. The work Dave does with business strategies is closely tied to personal effectiveness of the people in the organization. As a result, Dave is deeply involved in the development of a number of training and coaching programs.