Mars and Venus – Part I: Sales people are from Mars, Buyers are from Venus – Introduction

Many of you are probably familiar with John Gray’s famous relationship book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. In his book, he talks about how to overcome the different way men and women think and indeed often act. Buyers and sellers also have different viewpoints, and not knowing how your audience makes decisions can be disastrous.

This series of articles, will take you inside the mind of buyers, to help you fulfil their needs, to create successful commercial relationships. Buyers, like sales people, are also focused on WIIFM, What’s in it for me.

What is a successful commercial relationship?

My definition of a successful relationship is as follows: “Where 2 or more parties engage with each other for mutual benefit over a period of time”. I know that it is true we have people who are related to each other by blood. For this article, these relationships are ones of choice!

I distinguish here between a once off transaction and a relationship. By forging relationships, both parties gain. The purchaser gains, in so far as they find someone that they can trust, whose offerings satisfy their needs and wants, while removing their pains. In addition the cost of purchase is less than the value that the buyer puts on the product. In other words they feel that it is good value, and are more likely to return for more of the same or similar products.

The vendor or selling company should also gain, as long as their offering is profitable. Indeed it is in their best interests to truly delight their customers, so not only do they form 1-1 relationships, but also 1-many relationships through referrals.

How do sellers typically think?

Most sellers’ thinking is normally influenced by pressure of some sort or other. This may be an owners desire to grow their business, a bank threatening to foreclose, a salesperson’s quarterly quota, or an image of that tropical island, that you can retire to free of all financial worries.

This means that most people go into a sales call, with a desired “outcome”, which is either a sale or getting a step closer to a sale. This also means that salespeople, without this attitude, are often accused of being poor “closers”.

But when you go into a meeting desperate to close a sale, does that mean your buyer is thinking the same way? Do they have a timescale linked to yours? Probably not!

So how do buyers typically think?

Yes, buyers are focused on an “outcome”, which may indeed be ownership of the offering that you are trying to hawk. But you can be pretty certain that in most cases, it is for very different reasons.

Buyers, like sales people, are also focused on WIIFM, What’s in it for me. Since only one of you is going to end up owning, what ever is for sale, you have to think differently!

The buyer’s timescale is going to be influenced by when they can start getting the benefit, from their purchase. This is driven by a need, want or pain that they perceive. Whether or not this perception is real, is something the sales person should definitely attempt to ascertain.

How to bridge the gap, to sell successfully

Unless the person selling, has something that the buyer really wants (I mean we always seem to be on that end of the stick, don’t we?), then it is going to be up to the sales person to help the buyer along.

Traditionally, this was done by pitches and presentations. In other words, engaging in a monologue with your customer. That is what marketing is for! At a sales meeting, for every moment you are speaking, you are NOT learning about your customer’s needs, wants or pains.

And most specifically, you are not learning HOW your prospect buys.

Ask them some questions about what they want, what they really, really want! I mean there are a couple of reasons that a man might walk into a lingerie shop!


Only when you know what your customer’s needs, wants and pains, through active questioning, can you be sure that you are in a position to establish a relationship.

But what if they still think differently from you? This series of articles will explore the different psychological buying patterns or your customers, and help you to identify how they make decisions.

All too often sales people assume that buyers use the same criteria to make a purchase as they would. This can lead to frustration and indeed some serious self doubt on a sales person’s behalf. “They just don’t get it”, you may think to yourself. The reality is that not everyone thinks the same way. This is the first in a series of articles that looks at how you make choices, your customer makes choices, and how to realign your sales strategy, should they be different to you.

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