We live in a Buyer-Empowered-World. Is that a Good Thing?

Buyers, whether acting alone or in concert, have access to more information more readily than ever before.

Daily, we are all subjected to large numbers of messages and interruptions through an ever increasing number of sources designed to get and hold our attention long enough to get us to buy from the sender.

From a seller’s perspective there is ever more pressure to predict actual-to-target forecasts and then to deliver against them and this goes right up the organisation to the CEO who has to publish forecasts to the stakeholders and then execute accordingly.

From a buyer’s perspective, more does not necessarily translate into better and frequently purchasing decisions are delayed because the consequences of either taking or not taking action are not clearly understood by the buyer and by the seller.

This is especially the case in complex situations where consultative peer-to-peer conversations are required to arrive at the right answer.

To a very large extent there is a danger that, because buyers can access a welter of information on just about anything and everything, they are lulled into a false sense of security. Buyers will tend to approach sellers on the basis of requesting they buy whatever it is they have decided is the answer and at the lowest possible price.

However, sellers who have been trained to respect buyers’ wishes may very well be tempted to provide buyers with what they say they want and then to have to discount to obtain the business.

The sad aspect of this approach is that both buyer and seller think they are doing well for themselves and each other. The buyer has bought what they have self-diagnosed and the seller has provided a good service to the buyer in delivering what they asked for and at a price that ensured the buyer did business with them rather than with their competition.

The danger with this approach is that the transaction takes no account of both parties knowing and understanding the end in mind. And a consequence of this may very well be that the buyer might not have come up with the right answer and the seller could be held accountable. The “who sold you this” syndrome.

From a buyer’s perspective, and so the seller’s focus, they will, or at least should, have started with the end in mind and then work back from that to develop the appropriate engagement that the CEO and the senior leadership team can cause to be executed and for which they can take responsibility.

It recognises that any engagement of this sort will, by definition, involve change across the organisation and that, depending upon its inherent culture and history, the organisation and all its people will be challenged to a greater or lesser extent and require differing levels of support accordingly that we can provide.

So, is living in a buyer-empowered world a good thing? Surely the answer to that depends upon what is being purchased? If a commodity, then probably yes; but if a complex solution to a complex set of issues, then probably not.

To get the best result, buyers and sellers will have to interact with each other in a spirit of mutual cooperation, trust and respect to ensure that the issues are properly understood and the solution really will deliver.

That, of course, then requires that both buyers and sellers behave in non-stereotypical ways: quite a challenge! And perhaps the statement and question really should be that we live in an empowered world where both buyers and sellers can know a great deal about each other before they actively engage and, how Good a Thing is that?

John,

If you are curious about this, register your interest by contacting me, John Busby, to discuss at: jb@bkc.net; + 44 7968 066 165

Copyright©2014 John Busby

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