You want to get the truth from your buyers. As we’re fond of saying at Eigenworks, your customer is lying to you. It’s a provocative statement, but it's also a true one: your customers hide their true selves from you. The real win/loss process starts with cutting-through the duplicity of your customers to find the real truth of their story. In this article we want to show how our Buyer-as-Hero™ dialog model digs down to get the real story, and then confirms it, by “pressure-testing” the buyer’s decision-making.
The Buyer-as-Hero™ model begins with the self-reported story: what the buyer has told you about themselves. In usual terms, it’s the lies the buyer wanted you to know. It’s important to note that these “lies” aren’t malicious - your buyer isn’t trying to deceive you because their ‘evil.’ Rather, they’re self-deluding as often as not - the buyer putting forward the idealized story of their actions, or even just the narrative they’ve convinced themselves is the truth. But it’s usually still a lie: the BAH model is all about breaking-down that lie and finding the real truth at the heart of it.
Buyer-as-Hero™ breaks the process of examination down into several distinct stages:
- Profiling the Buyer
- First-Level Diagnosis
- “What About” Questions
- “What If” Questions
Profiling the Buyer
The first stage is profiling. In profiling we take the self-reported story and take the buyer’s representative back through, this time adding specificity and detail they left-out or elided the first time. We invite our interviewee to talk about their role, goals, and challenges as they influenced the buying decision. “You mentioned you made the purchase because of a long-time need that was going unfulfilled - can you go into more detail?” We want to flesh-out the story as the buyer understands in.
Once the story is expanded enough that it encompasses Then we make what we call the first-level diagnosis. With the buyer we explore how they evaluated your product and made a buying decision. We try to learn if it was them who made the decision, as we untangle the web of authority and the decision making process inside. “You said X - why?” And then we ask why again, getting to bedrock of decision making chain - nobody does anything without a reason, especially in business.
“What About” Questions
When there are no more ‘whys’ to ask, then it’s time to start pressure-testing what we’ve been told: the focus changes from the buyer to you. We ask “what about” questions to interrogate the self-reported story. In a loss, for example, we might ask “What about the metrics widget: the vendor says it’s what makes them special.” The responses we get help illumine the real conditions of a sale. “We’re too small a company to need that level of detail.” “The salesperson didn’t make it sound useful.” “What metric widget?”
“What If” Questions
The pressure-test ramps-up in the final stage of the dialog model: building off the seemingly simple responses to the ‘what-about’ questions, we switch to the “what ifs.” “What if the vendor had better explained the metrics widget?” ‘What if the price-point had been more reasonable?” “What if the market had been more crowded - would the product you bought have stood out as much?” In doing so we put pressure on the buying decision chain: if X had been Y and Y had been Z, would the decision still have been made? If factors start changing but the likely buying decision would have stayed constant you begin to find strengths and weaknesses within your product. A feature that is must-have, for example - if a shifting of price or subscription model still has people wanting, needing to buy, that feature is a proven value-add. If lowering prices turns loss into hypothetical wins, than the existing cost point is proven to be detrimental to the sale - and so on.
By applying pressure to the decisions your buyers have made, the Buyer-as-Hero™model confirms the strength of those decisions. When you allow our team to use our model in conducting your win/loss analysis, you give yourself a window onto a world of insights you never had before. That will change how you understand your buyer today, and how you’ll do business tomorrow.