In this five-part series, we explore the necessary elements of selling into large organizations. In Part 4, we look at the importance of aligning your sales process with the prospect’s buying process.

Don’t miss Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series.


It’s time to examine the importance of aligning with how your prospect buys. Let me first start by outlining what this doesn’t mean. That is, aligning with your prospect’s buying process is not an excuse to not have your own well-defined sales process. The sales magic here is to create a process with a client that leverages both the success of your own process and all the necessary elements of the prospect’s.

Often a sales team can get caught up in moving prospects down the funnel (e.g., from an “identified” opportunity to a “qualified” opportunity). But remember, the prospect really doesn’t know (or care) where they sit in your funnel. They are under their own set of pressures to identify the best product or service at the right price for their company.

What’s the best way to get started? ASK and LISTEN!

Ask (about the prospect’s buying process)

Often salespeople are so keen to jump right into their own sales process that they fail to ask the prospect about how their buying process works. In the pressure to move prospects down the sales funnel, the temptation can be to jump straight to product features and benefits without stopping to get this important information. Don’t fall into this trap.

This pressure can be particularly acute with a small firm selling to a large company. In the drive to “impress,” taking the time to ask about the prospect’s buying process can be forgotten or pushed aside.

Always be sure to ask.

Listen (to the prospect’s buying process)

The equally important critical element is to make sure that you listen when the prospect outlines their buying process. Again, often because of the pressure to sell, salespeople will talk too much during the conversation. Even when a prospect is speaking, instead of listening, a salesperson will be thinking ahead to the next thing they want to say.

In fact, according to Saleshacker.com the highest yielding B2B sales conversations hovered around a 43:57 talk/listen ratio.

One effective way to overcome this challenge is to use a service such as Gong.io which will record your calls and provide statistics about how much you spoke compared to your prospect. These tools can then provide the foundation for coaching and improvement.

Always listen to what your prospect has to say.

Be prescriptive

Once you have lined up your sales process with the prospect’s buying process, the key is to then be prescriptive. Some examples:

  1. Outline the entire process for them on the first or second call/meeting so that the prospect knows exactly what to expect and can prepare.
  2. Demonstrate how going through this process will ensure that the buyer’s needs will be met.
  3. Add value at every stage. If done right, the prospect should look forward to each call/meeting because they’ll be receiving value through the interaction and process.

Remember not everything in the process of the interaction has to be related to the potential sale. Consider how else can you help the prospect beyond the conversations related to the product or service. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”


by Jeff Bilyea


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