The phrase, “Just the facts, Ma’am, ” is attributed to Detective Sergeant Joe Friday (played by Jack Webb) in the series, Dragnet. (Search YouTube or some of the TV Classics channels for episodes. As a bit of trivia, he actually never said that, but it is very frequently attributed to him).
Detective Joe Friday was a hard-nosed investigator, refusing to be swayed by emotion, guesses, opinions. Fortunately, his partner and foil, Officer Bill Gannon (played by Harry Morgan) tended to look at these non-factual issues.
Too often, our sales efforts are focused on finding, “Just The Facts.” We search for the data, we do the analysis, we go through the mechanics of getting information from our customers about making a buying decision.
Many marketers, sellers, content advocates revel in letting customers self-educate on the web, thinking buying is just about getting the facts, evaluating the alternatives, and making a rational decision.
If buying were that simple, clearly there is eventually no need for sales people. After all, AI and other technologies, as well as many of our current content strategies offer prospects and customers data, opinion disguised as facts, and endless reams of information to satisfy the craving for the facts.
But if buying, consequently selling, is only about the facts, why is it that over 60% of buying decisions end in no decision made? Why do buying groups implode roughly 37% into their buying process–possibly before they’ve even started their digital research?
Clearly, buying is much more than just presenting the facts and data. Regardless the volumes of digital data we provide, we will only address a small part of what causes people to buy.
While emerging machine intelligence and AI technologies will help us better understand the facts and data that impact buying behaviors, they may even understand some of the emotions that impact buying behaviors. complex B2B buying is never about the facts.
Buying is really about complex interactions between people. Lots of them! In fact, with the CEB 6.8, just among themselves, there are 19.72 interaction paths (for those of us who struggle dealing with parts of decisionmakers, for 7 there are 21 interaction paths between these.
These interactions with the buying group alone isn’t about the facts. In fact, there may be differing views of the relevant facts. But each person is a human being, driven by emotions, opinions, personal goals.
Complex B2B buying is really about people dealing with each other—within the buying group, with sales people, with others. Any time we have people dealing with each other, all the “messiness” of being human intervenes. It’s recognizing this messiness, not avoiding it, but addressing it head on that’s ultimately most critical about sales.
Lest some take this to extremes, thinking selling is all about emotions and relationships, the facts and data are important.
We have to pay attention and balance each, just like our customers.