Who Is Buying While You Are Networking?

by Rob Brown on March 6, 2013 · 0 comments

oppertunityIt’s funny how most people go networking with a view to selling what they do, while few people go to buy. Yet there must be somebody buying, else none of us would have anyone to sell to!

As somebody who coaches, writes about and speaks on profitable business networking all over the world, the biggest challenge my clients have is creating tangible return on investment (ROI) from their considerable networking efforts. Most people can now ‘work a room’ and talk about what they do. With the many networking organisations, groups and clubs throughout the world, everybody has somewhere to network. With the explosion of social media and online networking platforms, there is no excuse not to have a conversation.

The problem is converting all of this activity into sales and referrals. In other words, how do you get people to buy what you are selling? It seems harder than ever to turn business cards into sales. And I know why. It’s not all your fault! It’s the people that are buying. Let’s examine why.

The way people buy these days is quite different to even a few short years ago. Today’s buyers are more dangerous, sophisticated and ruthless. Here are five things you should know about the modern buyer. They might make you network and sell differently.

Five Characteristics of the Modern Buyer

  1. 1.    Recession Minded. Almost everyone is talking about slow growth, pressure to cut costs, tough economic conditions and a lack of budget. Everybody wants a deal or a discount. There is a pressure to compete on pricing rather than value. And it seems nobody has the money that they used to have. It’s a buyer’s market. They have the power and the choice (even though they might not have the money!)
  2. Time Poor. In cycles (or sales cycles) seem to be longer than ever, or shorter than ever, dip who you speak to. What is clear is that buyers want to make quick decisions. They are short on time, short on resources and short on freedom to make the choices they problem want to make. They are under pressure to deliver results, to engage the right supplier and ‘not mess it up’.
  3. Internet Savvy. Modern buyers have more information than ever before. They are armed with crucial knowledge about you AND your competition. They can find everything they want on the Internet. They can do all the comparisons on pricing and product features on the Internet. They can become almost as knowledgeable as you about what you sell by looking on the Internet. Whereas in the past, they might involve you in the fact-finding process, and allow you to help them in their buying decision, these days buyers know exactly what they want and how they want it. There is often little discussion about what’s needed and why. You also don’t know about them wanting to buy until the last minute because you only get a ticket to the party late in the sales cycle.
  4. Over-Promised. Modern buyers have been sold too many dreams. Everyone is selling them everything, with bells and whistles. Everywhere they look, they are inundated with stories about great ROI, superb customer service and a wonderful buying experience. Your value proposition is just like everybody else’s. It’s laden with benefits, juicy bonuses, added value and massive ROI. Your relationship focused, customer centric and passionate about results. So is everybody else. And you wonder why it’s becoming more difficult to convince modern buyers that you are the number one, stand out choice for what you do?
  5. Stakeholder Heavy. Unless you are the salt of, donor, boss or entrepreneur, it’s likely that your buying decisions will be influenced by multiple stakeholders. You buy through a committee with lots of people having a say. You need consensus and agreement, which is hard with so many different agendas. This creates long sales cycles and complicated procurement. What in the past would have been a simple handshake and a yes or no has now become a series of hoop jumping, bid rounds and voting. There is so much at stake, so much to lose and so much room for error. Nobody wants to take the risk and nobody wants to get it wrong. Reputations are in the balance, both for individuals and companies. It’s no wonder a modern buying decision needs sign off from some many people.

What you do to mitigate these challenges is what I help my clients do. At least now, though, you can know what you are up against in today’s kind of buyer. You’ll recognise these in yourself. Being good or even great at what you do is only half the solution. Make the decision today to be a little more ‘disruptive’ in your approach. If you do what everyone else is doing, to the same kind of buyers that everyone else is selling to, you’ll have the same kind of obstacles!

Rob Brown
Rob Brown is an expert on making more money from business networking, online and face to face. He loves working with people who want to network for more sales, referrals or career opportunities, Rob’s books, coaching and dynamic talks have helped clients such as GE, HSBC and a range of speakers, leaders and business owners. A regular media contributor, Rob is founder of the Global Networking Council (the world’s top 200 networking thought leaders, authors and gurus) and author of the bestselling book How to Build Your Reputation. For a free copy of Rob’s Networking Follow Up Checklist – 45 tips to Turn Your Business Cards into Business, go to www.therobbrown.com/nwfu-check-signup

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