Buyer-​First Selling: How to Actually Do It

BY Jessica Helinski
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The phrase “buyer-​first selling” is likely one you’ve heard; we’ve even discussed it here on Media Sales Today. This sales concept is gaining traction in the industry as more reps embrace the buyer-​first mentality. But, it’s important that sellers effectively put this into action, and here lies the challenge. Sellers may think they are practicing buyer-​first selling, but there’s disconnect with buyers. 

A recent survey found that while 65% of sellers say they “always” put the buyer-​first, only 23% of buyers agree. “How can modern sales teams course-​correct and get on track with evolving buyer expectations?” asks LinkedIn’s Sean Callahan. “How can we turn 'buyer first' from a mantra into a reality?.”

Buyer-​first selling: Know what it means

While they may recognize its name, not all sellers likely know what exactly this concept is. Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn’s VP of Global Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, defines it as follows:

Buyer-​first selling places the interests and needs of the buyer at the core of the selling experience. It means always acting in service of the buyer’s goals, and for the benefit of the long term relationship between seller and buyer.”

Learn, then define

Now that you have a clear definition of this concept, it’s time to learn how to actually apply it to real-​life selling. 

One of the biggest issues is that buyers feel sellers just aren’t prepared to meet with them. If sellers truly want to approach selling with the buyer top-​of-​mind, they must do quality research before making first contact. SalesFuel understands this important first step so much, they released a free e‑book directly addressing pre-​call research. According to SalesFuel, “Salespeople who take a moment beforehand to find something of relevance to the buyer that they can share, instead of just winging it and trying to get by on personality, are perceived as more credible. They’re also more helpful and have a far greater chance of connecting the dots for the buyer.” This sets the stage for buyer-​first selling.

Lister agrees, pointing out that “sales pros should be tightly focused on gaining a clear grasp of what’s happening within a target account, and where the prominent barriers and pain points exist.” 

To help with this, download the free e‑book The 7 C's of Pre-​Call Intelligence to learn how to best use your time before that first call or meeting. 

Share readily

Transparency and sharing are major parts of buyer-​first selling. Today’s buyers no longer want to deal with sellers who act as information gatekeepers. Thanks to the internet, buyers are doing their own research. And they don’t have the time or patience for sellers who are secretive with insights, especially about their own business. Whether it’s about pricing or how you fare against the competition, always be straightforward. 

As Lister writes, “Don’t shy away from acknowledging the strengths of your competitors or the drawbacks of your own solution. Buyer-​first selling is about helping people make decisions they can feel confident in, not just helping them decide to buy from you.”

Close the perception gap

These tips, along with the others Lister discusses in his article, will bridge the gap between buyer expectations and what sellers deliver. Actively integrating the buyer-​first selling into your process will put you ahead of competitors and align your methods with what resonates with today’s buyers. Buyer-​first selling is here to stay; it just requires, as Lister points out, “…some philosophical shifts and a new playbook of best practices.”

Photo by MetroCreative