TALKING SALES 17: “Adapting sales process to buyer behaviour” – John Dougan



In this 3 minute interview by John Smibert, John Dougan, provides insight into the need to change how we engage with the customer subject to where they are in their buyer journey.

John explains how our sales process needs to be cognisant of where the buyer is in their process and their associated behaviour. He emphasises that our selling behaviour and activity needs to respond and adapt accordingly.

He explains that knowledge of the buyer journey is essential if we are to bring insight to the table and potentially challenge the customer

John Dougan is the Intrepid Sales Detective, a noted writer and blogger on sales effectiveness.

See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here

Interview Transcript

John S: Welcome back! I’m delighted to have with me again – John Dougan!       John’s the Intrepid Sales Detective, a writer and blogger on sales effectiveness. Welcome back, John!

John D: Thanks John, good to be here!

John S: John, I’ve had a lot of discussions with you on a whole host of subjects, and one that fascinates me is the whole subject about sales process versus the buyer journey or buyer process. I know there’s a lot of changes that occurred in the way we think about that in recent years. Can you tell me something about that, and what we really need to focus on?

John D: Yeah, John. Well, there’s a lot of interest at the moment, especially a lot of good research, around changes in buyer behaviour. The fact is that they are initiating their buying processes long before engaging vendors of any description. You know, you’ve only got to look either to see what’s available in terms of—some companies are saying is that they’re between 50 and 70 percent through their buying process before they even engage. So, the question really is: [01:00] how do we get involved in that process earlier?

John S: And, of course, create some value for the customer earlier, otherwise they won’t want us there. Right?

John D: A hundred percent, yeah. And a lot of that is driven through what insights and what perspectives can you actually bring to the customer. The great opportunity there is not to be arrogant in the way that you do actually approach them with insight, but rather to try and find something that is of value to them that they perhaps hadn’t thought of.

John S: We talked earlier about methodology and process. Are a lot of the processes that people are following, and methodologies, really not cognizant of what the client and buyer process is? Is that an issue?

John D: We find it time and time again. Not enough people who are in the sales profession, and I call it a profession on purpose, are having valid conversations with their customers about what they see value in. They’re not asking them what their problems and challenges are. They’re not proposing [02:00] solutions based on understanding the actual journey that a buyer has to go through. It’s only when we look at our buyers and measure what process they’re in that we actually can bring effective insight perspectives to them at that time.

John S: So for those listening to this video, what’s the key message, and what should they do to respond to this issue?

John D: Yeah, it is a case of talking to your customers, having more interaction with them that’s not only on a sales base. We now know that marketing have more touchpoints with the buyer than sales do, if they engage earlier in the process. Wow, everybody within that organisation should be speaking to customers – whether you’re involved in marketing, sales, or even some back-end office staff.

John S: And making sure they’re all working together too, sales and marketing particularly.

John D: Exactly that. The methodology ensures that there is a common language that you bring to customers, they see that level of consistency and they trust that.

John S: So the bottom line is – talk to our customers more, get to understand the way they’re buying, and then respond to that. Make sure your [03:00] process integrates with the buyer process.

John D: I don’t think there’s any better advice in sales, John.

John S: Thanks, John! [laughs] Great to talk with you again, I look forward to the next time!

John D: Thank you!


See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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