Monthly Archives: August 2013

Who has the most power, the buyer or the seller?

I joined Procter & Gamble because they had the reputation for being a great training ground – they were known as ‘The University of Marketing’. After a week’s one-to-one induction on understanding the company, product knowledge, customer types, business systems and most importantly selling processes and techniques (the steps of the call and the consultative sales process) I was then accompanied on my first visit to a variety of customers. I found the sales proces quite uncomfortable at first as it felt forced and overly mechanistic especially as I had recently lived in North Devon where bartering and exchanging mutal favours with people was how things worked down there.

After 6 months of selling on my own with some coaching from my manager I was invited to attend the sales training course at a hotel near the head office (then in Newcastle). The course brought together a group of very motivated and competitive sales people who had recently joined the company and mostly from University. It was quite a pressurised environment where you were being monitored by trainers, a senior manager and filmed on videos to then watch yourself and be critiqued by everyone else!

The key take-out that I took away from that experience, apart from a number of life long friends, was a question asked of us by a grizzled sales trainer at dinner the last night ‘ Who has the most power, the buyer or the seller?’ Although at the time we thought he was a bit past his sell-by date and eccentric he was right to challenge us in our automatic thoughts that the buyer typically has more power and encouraged us to think that the seller also has power when they offer something that is unique, scarce or with a more trusted and reliable service than the alternatives.

I have gone on to use this question frequently in my work with clients to help them focus on their areas of strength, their uniqueness and to build the value of their business products and services in the eyes and experience of their customers (buyers). So thanks very much Hedley Grey for asking that question all those years ago and I recommend that you use it to help build the value of your business.