Samantha’s Guide on How to Not Suck (as a Buyer)

Over the last two years, I have written on a number of different topics. From how to be a better leader to discussing what it means to be a “work wife,” the topics I have written about come straight from my real-life experiences. I will admit, sometimes, they are a bit too real and, other times, filled with jokes I am concerned someone will actually laugh at. However, one thing is consistent, I tell it exactly how I see it.

Speaking of which, there has been something bothering me. More specifically, it has been the absence of something that has been keeping me up at night (ok, a little dramatic, I know). To cut to the chase, I have neglected to discuss a very important topic—being a buyer.

Sure, I have written about how to be a good salesperson and how the actions of salespeople can influence, well, a sale. Heck, I even expanded the topic into a two-part series (shameless plug for Part 1 and Part 2). But what I failed to mention, rather glossed over, was how the buyer’s actions can (and do) influence the sale. It may take two to tango but it takes whole team to get the steps right.

Did I lose you in that metaphor? To sum it up, in order for both sides to benefit, each side—buyer and salesperson—need to be willing to dance. Each side needs to figure out what steps they need to take in order to dance the tango.

Still not getting it? Understandable—it’s not my best metaphor. Simply put, the buyer needs to think then plan. No really, all too often buyers turn to the salesperson to, essentially, read their minds. It’s as if buyers feel like it’s the salesperson’s job to figure out why they need their service.

Let me make this super clear: It is not the salesperson’s job to know why the buyer needs their service, it is the salesperson’s job to highlight and explain why their service fits the buyer’s needs.

And this is the point where I turn the discussion onto the buyers. Here is your guide, Buyers, on How to Not Suck (as a Buyer).

Before I jump in the guide on how to not suck, let’s back up a second and establish something: We do suck. I mean, without a doubt we, as Buyers, all suck. We change our minds. We miss deadlines. We are always “too busy.” And, more importantly, we pretend like we know everything.

I’m sure every salesperson still reading this just chuckled over their coffee. I mean, come on, the irony is there. I, like every other Buyer, believe that I know everything. The only difference between myself and other Buyers is the fact that I loudly proclaim my genius status to everyone I talk to. And by genius status, I mean the vast amount of knowledge I have of my business (but really, I am a genius, but that’s a story for another day).

Considering that I know the ins and outs of my business, I can identify the problems we are having. Once the problem is identified and potential solutions are thought of, the conversations with salespeople begin.

Hey, did you catch that?

I do not jump on a call just to hear the latest and greatest offering a company has. Instead, I engage with companies that have a service/product that I can use within my business. Because, at the end of the day, the worst thing a buyer can do is just jump on a call.

Every call for business should have a purpose. Every email for business should have an action item. Every moment for business should be strategically planned.

Ok, ok, ok I sound a bit crazy now and I get that. Then again, it’s why I have seen success. There is nothing more painful that just hearing someone talk without a clear understanding of, well, why they are talking. When I talk to Salespeople, I have at least one idea of how their service/product will benefit me.

But here is the trick to not sucking: Actually communicate this information to the Salesperson. If you are just talking to them because they reached out, you are wasting everyone’s time. No matter how good the salesperson is, they will never get you to buy something you don’t need (unless they convince you that you need it and, in that case, you have bigger problems than what I’m outlining here).

In order to get the most out of the conversation and, potentially that company, explain the problem your business is facing and how you hope this Salesperson’s service/product can help resolve it. For example, having website tracking issues? Well, explain to the salesperson what exactly the problem is and how you believe the problem can be solved. This way, the salesperson can guide the conversation and give you the information you actually want, not what they think you want.

Remember, salespeople are not mind readers, they need you to help them along the way.

Now do not forget to give a bit of a background on your business and the industry. Each business, each industry is unique. Even if you think your business model is “standard” or “normal” (which, if so, you need to get out—you are going downhill really quick), you should take about five minutes to explain what makes your business special. The more information the salesperson knows, the more they can help you decide if they are the right company/solution.

Oh, and while we are on the topic, stop “stretching the truth” when it comes to discussing your business. It helps no one if you lie about how many customers you have, how much you can spend, or, heck, if you have unlimited vacation days. Being transparent with the Salesperson will help establish if you are wasting time talking to them or not. Sure, everyone wants to perceive their business as the greatest thing since sliced bread (which would make sense if you were the Chillicothe (Missouri) Baking Company who apparently put to use the first bread-slicing machine), but who does that help? It definitely won’t help you try to resolve issues that you, apparently, don’t have in your perfect business.

Lastly, we all know your business is perfect and you meet every deadline but in the event that you don’t or have to cancel a meeting, please tell the Salesperson. Of course, in the world of business things change and change often. As they say, a business that does not change dies. If you told the Salesperson you will have an answer by next Tuesday and you don’t, that’s cool, no worries just shoot over a quick email or phone call and let them know. If there is a reason behind the hold up, tell them that.

And in the sad event you do not want to do business with that salesperson for whatever reason, stop beating around the bush and tell them! Let’s be real, the salesperson just wants to move on to find the next deal, not be stuck following up with your dead lead….

In conclusion (on request from my editor), buyers suck. Why you may ask? Because we, the Buyers, fail to communicate effectively with the very people trying to help us—salespeople. The selling game is not for mind readers, figure out what you need and how they can help you. I guarantee your salesperson will love you for it.

My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.