Don’t Forget to Sell at Both the Business and Personal Levels

B2B buyers make their purchase decisions at two levels: a business level and a personal level. That’s why sales professionals need to sell at both levels.

Everyone must sell to some degree or another regardless of their specific role. A best practice of convincing others is to sell at both a business and personal level. This is true of interviewing for a job or promotion, true of professional selling, and true of presenting your ideas to co-workers or your boss.

Personal level: the things that matter most to each person involved in the decision, that are of primary interest or concern to him or her.

Business level: the issues being faced by the employer, company, or department; the impact of those issues (size and scope); and the consequences of not taking action to address them.

Selling at the personal level is accomplished by first asking the prospect/interviewer/supervisor/fellow staffer what they personally believe is the most important issue or concern they want to solve, and why they chose it as their most important issue. In other words, you must learn both the what and why from each person’s perspective. Based on what you learn, identify and propose solutions for those issues and concerns that are personally high priorities for the prospect/interviewer/supervisor/fellow staffer. Personal level selling also includes the ability to develop trust and rapport with each person involved in the decision. In situations with multiple decision makers and influencers, selling at the personal level includes determining what is important to each individual (ex: the hiring manager and HR, or three department heads and the CFO).

Selling at the business level is achieved through first determining the key issues for the organization to solve, achieve, or gain, when hiring a candidate, buying a product or service, adopting a plan, etc. Once you understand the desired business outcomes, demonstrate how hiring you, buying from your company, adopting you idea, etc. will help the organization achieve the goals you learned through your needs assessment. In short, how you, your idea, your product, etc will solve a business problem, capitalize on a business opportunity, or achieve a business objective.

How Tianna Jenkins Sold at Both the Busines And Personal Level

Tianna spent time asking the right discovery questions of the four people tasked with selecting Preci–Max’s next staffing partner, so when she presented her proposed solution, she showed each of the four members of the Preci-Max team how her solution met both the business and personal needs of each decision maker:

  • Bob Masters, Managing Director
    • Business needs – candidates who fit Preci-Max’s culture and who had at least 7 year’s relevant experience.
    • Personal needs – to keep his board happy
  • Sheila Jackson, VP Human Resources
    • Busines Needs – average time to fill open positions, and diversity initiatives.
    • Personal Needs – build credibility with company leaders as a relatively new VP in her role.
  • Ken Wong, VP Tech & Sciences
    • Business needs – technical qualifications and certifications of candidates and cultural fit.
    • Personal needs – to be seen as someone whit a good eye for spotting talent
  • Larry Breckenridge, CFO & VP Finance
    • Business needs – assure contract terms are favorable to Preci-Max; can demonstrate a better ROI outcome than the previous staffing partner.
    • Personal needs – to be seen as a good negotiator

Because Tianna was so through in learning each person’s busines and personal needs, she was able to speak to each as she conversationally presented her proposal. She could see by each person’s positive expression as she addressed his or her areas of interest that she had Preci-Max comfortable in moving ahead.

Exactly the same approach could be used by a job seeker selling him/herself into a job convincing the different members making the hiring decision, or by a manager needing to convince a group of peers to adopt his or her project proposal.

Bottom Line

When selling at either the business or personal level, the successful person learns the factors and circumstances driving the business need to be solved, and what will make each decision maker and influencer personally comfortable moving ahead.

The preceding was excerpted from Boyer Management Group’s B2B Sales Essentials℠ program.

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