Salespeople and leaders differ on key aspects of buyer centricity

20th April 2023 |   Journal Of Sales Transformation

Julie Thomas is President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates
Julie Thomas: Human connection.

Recent research highlights differences in how sales leaders and sellers view the best ways to engage with prospects, but the majority agree that buyer centricity is the right approach overall – that’s according to a study conducted by sales training specialist ValueSelling Associates and L&D publication Training Industry.

A significant majority of sales leaders (61%) believe it makes sense to use a buyer-centric sales approach, even if it makes the sales cycle longer, deeming it more effective than any other method; at the same time, over half (55%) of sellers agree it makes sense to choose a buyer-centric approach, even if it requires more effort.

Released on 31 March, the research surveyed 260 sales leaders and 278 sales representatives across a range of industries and company types. It found that sales leaders and sellers agree on five points that define a buyer-centric sales approach: putting the client’s goals and needs first, creating authentic connections between salespeople and clients, researching and preparing insightful questions for client interactions, working with prospects to uncover ideas for ideal solutions and then mapping solutions to that vision, and having industry expertise and experience.


However, differences emerge between sales leaders and sellers in how they view certain elements of the process. Sales leaders identify question preparation and prospect research (60%) as the crucial elements; salespeople focus most on behaviours, identifying most with creating authentic connections between the prospect and themselves (70%).

At the same time, sales leaders tend to focus on the modality of interactions and products, favouring in-person interactions (rather than virtual interactions) and the ability to present detailed product benefits and advantages over the competition. Sellers tend to focus on connecting with prospective clients on a human level and actively listening to understand their needs and problems.


Moreover, technology doesn’t solve the problems salespeople encounter, according to 69% of all sales leaders and sellers. The root cause of sales engagement issues varies across organizations. Lack of training in using technology is an issue, with 85% of organisations that receive training on how to use sales technology say it improves their skills and agility in sales.

ValueSelling Associates’ CEO, Julie Thomas tells the Journal: “A human connection remains at the core of sales, even as remote work has become more common in many industries. Revenue teams must work harder to develop skills across teams, provide them with properly integrated technology and measure the desired selling behaviours.”

  • The Journal will feature a more detailed article about the research findings in our next edition. In addition, the ValueSelling Associates e-book, From Selling to Solving: The Buyer-centric Approach to Sales Success, explores the concept of buyer-centric sales, what it means to sales leaders and sellers, and examines the discrepancies between the two.