Part 1 – Dear Salesperson, you need to know what wine your customer buys.

If you can understand how your customers buy their wine, you’ll improve the probabilities of winning the sale.

Let me start by telling you about how I buy wine.

I’m not talking about buying wine in a restaurant; because we all know that you always go for the second cheapest wine on the menu (going for the cheapest would be way too embarrassing).

No, I’m referring to buying wine at the supermarket.

I buy wine by filtering down the choices on three main criteria; Firstly, it’s the grape, secondly, it’s the price range and lastly, it’s the design of the label.

Now when it comes to the type of grape and the price, these are measures which are already in the direct control of the seller and which they likely already change to positively influence buyer behaviour.

This is because, in general terms, they are objective measures.

Most people will go into a supermarket having already decided if they want a red or white wine and will not be influenced to change their mind on purchasing the another grape variant, hence they stock all the options, so as to ensure they optimise the chance of a sale.

Also, nearly all of us common folk will know how much we want to spend on a bottle of wine.

If it’s me, it’s between $10 -$15 if it’s just me drinking or $25+ if I’m taking it to a dinner party at someone’s house.  $20 if I’m lucky enough to get one I like on special.

Supermarkets have a selection of price ranges that will suit the needs of most buyers, so once again they also optimise their chances of a sale being made.

But the label is a little more subjective; in that the impacts are a little less discernible, less controllable and their influence cannot be so easily measured.

As a buyer I make my decision to purchase a bottle if the label speaks my ‘language’, reflects my personality, and protects my reputation from the risk of negative judgement of others at a dinner party.

Buyers in businesses are human beings who make the same three decisions when they consider purchasing the product/service from you for their company;

Decision 1 – choosing the right grape; does the product/service meet the particular need of my company?

Someone who is going to a friend’s place for a steak for dinner and is after a red wine to accompany their meal, will not allow a supermarket ‘special’ on white wine, to convince them to change their mind. Why; it doesn’t meet their need.

As a salesperson, it doesn’t matter if you have a great product/service; if it doesn’t meet the customer need, then it will not be sold.

Decision 2 – choosing the right price; does the product/service provide appropriate value to my company?

Someone who only has a fixed budget of $20 for the bottle of red wine they are buying to take for a steak dinner at a friend’s house, will not allow a supermarket ‘special’ of another red wine that normally costs $50, being promoted at $30 change their minds.  Why; although it meets their product requirement, it doesn’t meet their value needs.

As a salesperson, it doesn’t matter if you have a great product/service, which meets the customer’s business need.  If it doesn’t meet the customer’s budget, then it will not be sold.

Decision 3 – choosing the right label; is the product/service attractive to me and my company?

This is where things get a little less factual and more personal (variable).

Someone who has a fixed budget of $20 for the bottle of red wine they are buying to take for a steak dinner at a friend’s house, will not buy the first one they see (or in some extreme cases will not buy one at all), if they aren’t attracted by the label.  Why; although it meets their product and budget requirements, it may not satisfy their subjective needs.

Subjective [adj.] – based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

As a salesperson, it doesn’t matter if you have a great product/service, which meets both need and budget; if it (or you) doesn’t satisfy the desired perceptions of the customer, then it will not be sold.

You’d all probably agree with me that the appearance of the label plays a large part in the decision as to whether a bottle of wine is purchased, even though we may not be able to fully explain on what criteria.

We’d also all probably agree that this subjective standpoint could be applied to the product/service that one business is selling to another business.  This is why companies spend so much on B2B Marketing each year, trying to use their branding or messaging to persuade customers to choose their company over a competitor.

Where we may not see eye to eye is the degree of importance of a B2B sales person’s ‘label’ in the purchasing decisions of a buyer.

But that chapter of this discussion will have to wait until the second part of this article, which will be published on Tuesday 13th March.

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