You Like Food? Wait Tables. Buy for a Living? Try Selling


As a regular buyer of business technology and services I am continually shocked at some of the mistakes made by people trying to sell to me. And while I understand how many of the mistakes happen having done the job and read numerous selling books and white papers on the topic, many of those people I encounter would be far more successful if they made a few minor changes by thinking from the buyer perspective.

The truth is that anyone who sells any product or service should spend some time on the buying side and anyone who buys should take a turn selling. Or as I always say to anyone who likes to eat out at restaurants, spend some time waiting tables and you'll quickly learn how to get better service and appreciate the value of the slight over tip.

Sticking with the dining out metaphor, here are three tips to make buying and selling easier for everyone:

1. Create a comfortable environment: Remember that your job is not to “sell me something,” it is to help the buyer buy. The odds are pretty good that I know my business better than you do and I certainly know what I like. Your role is to make it easy for me to get what I want or need and make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

2. State your allergies up front: I’ll never understand why so many buyers of goods and services refuse to give away details that can help someone provide you with better service. Allergic to fish? Hate Cilantro? Have a small budget? Bidding against the incumbent? All of this critical information helps a seller’s ability to provide you with appropriate recommendations and avoid confusion. If you want someone to be open with you, you need to start by being open with them.

3. Don’t blame the kitchen: Sometimes thing go wrong on both sides, most reasonable people understand this fact and are willing to accept it. If sellers stand up and take responsibility for getting it fixed, you’ll begin building a trusting relationship and create a happy buyer instead of passing blame to some faceless entity. Deflecting blame only makes buyers wonder if they are dealing with the right person or if there is someone more equipped to handle the purchase.

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