Creating A Distinctive Buying Experience


I’ve always been a fairly intuitive person. When it comes to sales competency, this is my main skill: staying fairly flexible so I could match my style to whoever I was talking with. Not disingenuously, or inauthentically, but adaptively. You know the old adage, “People like people like themselves.” It’s true.

And it’s in true in sales. Every sale is a relationship, and people want to buy from people like themselves or at least people they like and trust and know want to help them (not rip them off). In my experience too many salespeople don’t know or practice this. They also have a slightly myopic view of the world and don’t understand how people might see things differently. They have one style: they know what they know and that’s how they do it.

In my interview with sales expert Randy Illig, he emphasizes the value of creating a distinctive buying experience.  Don't assume you know what your potential clients' ideal buying experience looks like. You'll be tempted to draw from the past, guess, or recreate a prior experience from your memory - a success even. These approaches are wrong, wrong, wrong. The approach that works? Simple. Ask your clients what they want. Believe it or not, they’ll tell you. 

When it comes to transparency, we’ve entered a new era. The walls are down. People have an increased willingness to disclose appropriate levels of information to progress their end in mind. Easier, faster, smarter, quicker, cheaper. Ask me anything—ask about my goals, my habits, what will make working with me easier, what will annoy me—and I'll tell you. But if you don't ask me, I probably won't tell you. Same is true of your clients.

It's counterintuitive, yes, but critical to understanding your client's ideal buying experience. You can’t guess at it. The old way is to say to yourself, “Hmm, what's been a good buying experience for me?” Then you peg a positive buying experience in your own memory and try to recreate it with everyone. Let's be clear - this is not the best approach - it's like knowing your own Love Language (Gary Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages), and trying to foist it on someone else. Instead - find out your client's 'Love Language" in terms of an ideal buying experience and deliver it.

Pick up the phone, call the prospective client, and say, “Hey, can you tell me what an ideal buying experience might be for you?” Because, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. And you might not get the sale.

What you might learn by asking:

  • Your client’s main goal right now is that she’s vying for a promotion and needs a big win.
  • Or he needs to have a specific solution implemented in the next 60 days.
  • It might be that she just doesn't want to get into a fight with her procurement officer.
  • Maybe she’s got to check these five boxes and your product fits none of them... perfectly.
  • Or it might be that the VP of sales and the HR director have wildly different ideas about what they are trying to accomplish.
  •  Maybe it’s not a pricing issue at all, he simply wants the end user to have the right solution for thier needs.

Unless you ask, you’re just guessing. And if you fall back into the trap of asking what makes a great buying experience for yourself, you're still guessing.

Here’s the bottom line: Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to look good. Everyone wants to know they got the best value at the lowest price. Everyone wants to meet their goals and advance their agenda. This is not genius; it’s human psychology. As a sales professional, when it comes to creating a great buying experience, there is only one place to look for answers: your client. So stop guessing and assuming, and go ask!

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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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