The philosophy of buyer-first selling has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that there’s been a concerted effort for large companies to re-tool their sales practices around it. The catalyst? A shift to digital sales caused by the pandemic. Now, some of the largest companies and sales platforms in the world are buyer-first evangelists. Business networking platform LinkedIn even has an entire training and resource program designed to help companies revamp their sales strategies.
What is buyer-first selling and why are companies switching to it with urgency? More important, what’s the expectation for sales executives as this mode of selling becomes the new norm?
A look at buyer-first selling
On the surface, buyer-first selling sounds like a no-brainer. It’s defined as putting the buyer’s needs central to the selling process. But there’s a big disconnect between traditional selling and buyer-first selling—namely, in the approach.
Buyer-first selling isn’t about meeting sales goals. It’s not about prospecting a certain number of new leads each month. It’s not about persuading the customer to buy or locking them into an agreement. On a much simpler plane, buyer-first selling is about solving problems. In a sentence: how can you help potential customers? It’s about putting the buyer and their needs first, to make a sale that’s truly meaningful because it creates value.
The shift away from traditional sales
Buyer-first selling is a big departure from the norm for many companies because it signals a shift away from engrained tactics and metrics. As a result, many companies aren’t sure how to measure the effectiveness of their sales teams when legacy metrics are eschewed for buyer-first strategies. As a result, they’re looking toward seasoned sales leaders to pave the way for measurable ROI in a buyer-first market.
Sales executives with buyer-first familiarity are poised to succeed in the digital age of sales. These leaders understand the precepts of a buyer-first approach, as well as how to train sales teams and gauge effectiveness. This experience will help companies ease the pivot to buyer-first strategies and ensure sales teams form good habits as they explore meaningful partnerships with prospects.
The role of sales executives in a buyer-first world
Sales executives will face an uphill battle in helping companies pivot to buyer-first selling. Not only is it a shift to new sales tactics and methods, it’s also a shift to new technologies, metrics, solutions and closing. Some of the roles of executives leading the charge into buyer-first selling include:
- Upskilling and re-training sales staff on buyer-first tactics, as well as developing new best practices around sales language and strategy.
- Introducing new metrics and measurements for tracking the effectiveness of buyer-first campaigns and the opportunities gleaned from them.
- Investing and establishing new technologies to institute buyer-first selling in a virtual capacity, where this tactic continues to take root.
- Establishing relationship management tools and resources, to help sales teams foster and grow strategic partnerships with customers.
The fact is, buyer-first selling takes more. More time. More resources, More effort. But the results can be exceptional and lasting. It’s up to sales executives to institute the buyer-first mentality in their teams and processes, to ensure the input more than justifies the output.
Why companies need buyer-first leaders
Buyer-first selling isn’t just the new fad in sales: it’s a paradigm shift to a more sustainable networking approach. Gone are the days of pumping leads for sales and churning customers to constantly tap into the next revenue stream. Today’s buyer-first initiatives will lead to tomorrow’s revenues and revenues far into the future.
To create sustainable, long-term, prosperous partnerships with buyers, companies need leadership that understands the big picture for buyer-first selling. It’s not only about bringing in sales executives who can produce results—it’s about installing leadership that embodies the buyer-first mission. When leadership puts buyers first, so will sales teams. As buyers see this top-down example of relationship-building, they’re more inclined to believe in the relationship beyond the transaction.
Buyer-first leads to seller success
Sales tactics and strategies have changed throughout the years, and they’re changing once again with the shift to buyer-first selling. What makes this shift different is that it completely up-ends the tactics and measurements of sales teams that’ve been engrained over the last several decades. To make the shift successfully, companies need sales executives who recognize the significance of the buyer-first philosophy.
As with all forms of disruptive industry change, leadership from the front is invaluable. As we enter the era of buyer-first digital selling, companies need sales executives prepared to build successful systems and strategies, to promote the long-term success of sales teams and the buyers they serve.