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    “People buy from people...”

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    I don’t know how many times I’ve read this mantra about selling. I don’t know how many times I’ve repeated it, myself. Somehow, today, I read it in some post, and the irony caused me to burst out laughing!

    We constantly talk about people buying from people. We talk about the importance of building relationships, or caring, or understanding. We talk about the importance of building trust. We look for empathy, perhaps, even sympathy.

    These are all characteristic skills in effective human to human interaction and engagement.

    And we continue to reiterate the mantra, “People buy from people…”

    The irony that struck me is how far we have come in dehumanizing our engagement strategies

    While we say the mantra, we do everything we can to design the vagaries of people to people interaction out of our engagement strategies.

    We automate our communications–the same standardized email, the same scripted conversation focused on achieving our objectives, less focused on what the customer is trying to achieve. We focus on the numbers and when we don’t achieve our goals, we increase volume and velocity.

    If we “research” our customers, organizationally and individually, we collect data, but we seem to miss the person.

    We engage in understanding what they are looking to buy, focusing on the features and functions of our products, seldom asking about why they want to change, and how they feel about it.

    Customers are no longer people, but widgets we process, moving from step to step. Somehow the messiness of human to human interactions, gets in the way of achieving our numbers.

    If customers don’t achieve what they are trying to achieve, we won’t achieve what we want to achieve.

    And our customers have learned from us well, moving far beyond what we have dreamed. Increasingly–over 80%–they are expressing preference for a rep-free buying experience. A large part of this is, perhaps, because they paid attention to our engagement practices; recognizing that people relationships are too messy and screw up our efficiency and ability to hit our numbers.

    They are solving that problem for us, choosing a digital buying experience over people to people interactions.

    So what happens to our fallback mantra, “people buy from people?” I suppose it becomes, “people buy from machines…” (somehow that mantra doesn’t resonate.) However, I suspect this mantra evolves to machines buy from machines.

    But then I reflect on the current reality. As much as we try to drive the humanity out of buying and selling, however effectively our customers are responding with their digital buying/rep free buying process, the data shows something is broken.

    Customers, increasingly experience remorse, doubt, uncertainty, regret when they do buy. 60% who want to buy fail to buy, and the reasons are remarkably “human” reasons. It’s not because of the lack of data or information, but it is about their indecision, uncertainty, and failure to be confident in their decision. They are overwhelmed confused and need to make sense of what they are trying to do, how to do it, and what it means.

    It turns out that despite everything we (and customers) do to dehumanize the buying/selling process, for complex B2B buying, people Do Buy from people.

    Perhaps we and they would achieve more, together, if we started to inject humanity back into the process. If we focused less on our efficiency and more on the customer achieving their goals. If we sought to understand, care, and be genuinely helpful.

    Afterall, if they don’t achieve what they are trying to achieve, we won’t achieve what we want to achieve.

    We need to go back to basics, People Buy From People!

    Afterword: the same concept applies to our internal organizational interactions – and we seem to be losing the caring and commitment to valuing people and creating value with them.

    Article originally published on May 12, 2022 on The Partners in Excellence Blog
    Dave Brock
    Published May 15, 2022
    By Dave Brock

    Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.

    Find out more about Dave Brock on LinkedIn