January 31, 2009

More People Involved in Buying Decisions Means More Work for Salespeople

One to one selling is a thing of the past. That is because in most purchase decisions involve between 4 and 6 people. In a time of greater risk and uncertainly the numbers involved grows, with some research suggesting a 16 percent increase in the last year alone.

The bad news, of course, is the more people involved means longer sales cycles and more complex buying processes. Bottom line it means more uncertainty for the salesperson, as well as lots more work.

At its simplest, more people involved in buying decisions requires more meetings and presentations. After all, if you are only dealing with one, or two people then you are neglecting between 50% and 75% of those who will determine if you get the order.

So here are some questions to establish if your sales approach is covering the buying unit:

1. Has the buying group been identified? Has it been covered?

Just as there is a team involved on the buying side, sales people need to adopt a team based approach to selling. In particular, executive to executive selling, matching the different members of your team to the relevant person in the buying organization. For example, your CTO

talking to their CTO, etc.

2. Are you selling high enough?

Are you selling high enough in the target organisation? Does our contacts manager know us? Has there been

contact at CEO, CTO, COO, etc. level? Are our contacts sufficiently senior?

Take care that your sales proposition will resonate with senior management, for whom feature led messages are not of interest.

Generally selling higher requires a changes of language and emphasis to focus on business impact and the business case for your solution.

3. Are you selling wide enough?

Have you a clear picture of who will make and influence the purchase decision, as well as all those who will be affected by it.

Have you had sufficient contact with these various individuals – the economic buyer – the technical buyer – the business driver - the end user, etc?

It is important to tailoring your approach to each level and each function. For example, the CTO requires a different type of information and approach that the CFO.

4. Do you have an Internal Advocate, or Champion?

Have you identified the internal champion for this project in the customers company? Does this person regularly contact us for information and advice? Have you built a strong relationship of trust with him/her?

Conversely, who has the potential to sabotage your sales effort (e।g. who in the organization may feel threatened by your proposition)? How can this threat be managed?

It is dangerous to assume that you know who is going to make the purchase decision. It can mean that you focus your sales efforts on the wrong people, or o

verlook some of those who are important.

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