If you are on a sales or GTM team, like it or not, buyers are now in charge! To create engagement and deal momentum, you have to put your buyers and their goals first.

So, how do you put Buyers First? I talked recently with Carole Mahoney at Unbound Growth to answer this question and learn about the book she has written on the topic.

“If you search LinkedIn, there are millions of people following ‘customer experience’ and 90 people following ‘buying experience,’” says Carole. “I find this really strange because the buying experience sets the tone for the customer relationship.”

Recent research from Gartner shows Carole is right. It suggests that companies that deliver a great buying experience grow twice as fast as those that deliver an average experience.

Carole shared with me her four key practices to be a Buyer First sales team.

Practice 1: Focus on the Buying Experience 🔎

“A high quality buying experience starts with a strong feedback loop from sales to marketing,” Carole says. “Marketing language is usually high-level and evocative. Sales is where the rubber hits the road. Sales needs to feed buyer information to marketing, not the reverse.”

Carole suggests that marketing needs the sales team to regularly share information on buyers’ most consistent problems and challenges, on words and phrases that land, as well as key players and steps in the buyers’ process.

Practice 2: Sales Mindset and Self-Reflection 🧠

“In the new buyer environment, sales people have to make behavioral and mindset changes” Carole continues: “It is no longer a one-way product pitch. Sales people need to constantly reflect on how they approach their job, what is working, and what is getting in their way.”

Carole emphasizes two mindset shifts:

  • Selling is not something we do to other people, it is something we do with them
  • Years of experience and historical success does not matter anymore. Markets and buyers are too fluid and change too quickly

Practice 3: Buyer-First Sales Conversations 🗣

“You will know if your sales team is adopting new behaviors from their buying conversations.” Carole adds: “Are they primarily talking about their product? Or are they talking about the buyer problems, the impact of those problems, what it means to the buyer to solve those problems?”

Carole created a T-Shirt that she shares with her clients that says it is “Not About Me” with the words upside down. It creates a reminder in a fun and easy way that sales teams should not focus on their product, but on getting answers on why a buyer would buy from them.

Practice 4: Sales Leader Mindset 🏆

“You have to get the right sales leaders in place.” Carole finishes, “sales manager mindset drives the team mindset. People come into alignment with the social group. The practices of the group are contagious.”

For Carole, the most important sales manager attitudes include: 

  • An attitude of service to others (i.e., “it is not about them”) 
  • Acting as a role model for Buyer First mindsets and behaviors 
  • A coaching mindset that focuses on building team skills rather than “diving in” to take over deals

Success in the new buyer environment requires putting Buyers First. It is leading with questions on why they are talking to you and interested in the first place that leads to the most success.