Decision makers often rely on the advice of trusted associates to make important purchasing decisions. Buying teams are often formed to assist decision makers when a single purchase could have a significant impact on the future of a business. Selling products and services to businesses, therefore, requires an understanding of the organizational dynamics that can influence the purchasing decision. The most important influencers to identify when selling to businesses are detailed below.
A gatekeeper is a person with the power to filter the flow of individuals who are given the opportunity to communicate with a decision maker. Selling to a business can be challenging because a diverse range of gatekeepers could block an appointment with a decision maker. Gatekeepers could include a secretary, trusted advisor, or lower level staff member. The most effective way to overcome a gatekeeper is to demonstrate how agreeing to an appointment will result in compliments or rewards from the decision maker. Focus on the pain that a product or service could eventually solve to earn the consent of a gatekeeper.
Complex purchases often require the assistance of staff members with technical skills to ensure that a prospective solution is appropriate and realistic. The influence of a technical staff member can advise a decision maker to abandon a proposal due to technical infeasibility or potential risks. The support of technical staff members can be earned by demonstrating technical competence and striking down concerns with strong arguments. A thorough understanding of the technology behind a product can help win the support of technical staff members and encourage decision makers to move forward with a purchase.
Customers are often the most important influencers in the purchasing decision. The fundamental principles of commerce require businesses to tailor their offerings to the needs of customers. Business-to-business (B2B) customers will expect to see how purchasing a product or service will add value to their customers. For example, a customer considering the purchase of a new phone system might want to understand how the system could decrease call queue times or improve sound quality. Some B2B decision makers may even invite key customers to assist with the purchasing decision to ensure that a proposal can add genuine value.
Larger organizations often employ advisors to assist decision makers who control a significant proportion of a company’s assets. Advisors can include market researchers, accountants, attorneys, and leading executives. It is important to identify advisors who are trusted the most by decision makers to devise a strategy for earning the support of these influencers. Some situations might necessitate meeting with advisors individually to address their concerns. The most important advisors can be identified in meetings by watching who a decision maker defers judgment to for challenging questions.
Businesses that make routine purchases often choose to delegate buying decisions to a dedicated purchasing manager. Purchasing managers often have specific obligations to reduce cost and maintain quality. Many businesses maintain lists of approved suppliers that purchasing managers are allowed to use. Companies attempting to sell a product or service to a purchasing manager can increase their chances of making a sale by asking the gatekeeper who manages the supplier list for an appointment with the purchasing manager. A referral from a leading member of the organization can also encourage a purchasing manager give preference to a specific supplier.
Partners can play a critical role in the decision-making process. Some businesses may choose to invest in a product or service to make their firm more attractive to prospective partners. Partners can also play an active role in the purchasing decision. For example, selling a CRM system to a major manufacturer might require collaboration with a major partner that manages regional distribution. The company selling the CRM system would need to offer a database that would meet the needs of the partner to win a key ally that could influence the decision maker. Failure to win the support of partners could force a decision maker to abandon a proposal to avoid damaging the partnership.
Putting It All Together
Earning the support of influencers can help to close more sales and increase the chances of obtaining additional purchases in the future. The key to working with influencers is to identify them from the start. Companies attempting to sell their products and services to other businesses must analyze a targeted organization and find opportunities to interact with influencers. Acquiring the consent of influencers can assure success when meeting with decision makers.
This post was first published on my personal blog.