If your company sells in the B2B space, chances are you sell to buying teams. Research in The Challenger Customer revealed that on average, there are over 6 people involved in a B2B buying decision.
When I started selling office technology in 1993, we were trained to go to the top-level decision-maker. Typically, the company owner would meet with me. At the very end, he or she would sign the order and then walk me over to the CFO’s office and instruct them to issue me a check or sign a lease.
Over the past 25 years, the landscape has evolved. In The Challenger Sale, Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon call this “the rise of the consensus sale.” These days companies are more risk-averse. Thus, the more people involved in the decision, the less risk.
Many B2B companies also offer more complex solutions than they did 25 years ago. In my case, 25 years ago I sold copiers and fax machines that we rolled into someone's office. Over the past few decades, these systems are now integrated with the network and business applications, involving IT, end-users, and all of the related security issues. As solutions have become more integrated, more people get involved.
Think about some of your recent sales—especially those to your Ideal Clients. How many decision-makers and influencers were involved? What were their titles and roles?
Here’s the challenge: your salespeople probably won’t get to meet face-to-face with every decision-maker and influencer in a deal.
For those of us in sales, there is nothing worse than walking into a final presentation and seeing people there that you didn’t know were involved. Most of the time, these meetings don’t go well.
Ideally, we would get to meet with everyone on the buying team. However, if we can’t, we need a strategy to influence them.
This is something that marketing and sales should work on together.
When my team is conducting a Revenue Growth Workshop, we typically focus on attracting and retaining Ideal Clients. A core part of that strategy involves what we call the Ideal Client Experience. Simply put, how do we want our Ideal Clients to experience our company throughout the steps of the buying and client lifecycle.
When it comes to the buying process, one of the core components of your Ideal Client Experience is considering how you will influence buying teams. The goal is for everyone to arrive at that final decision-making meeting excited about working with your company.
To begin this process, think about the decision-makers and influencers that are typically involved in your deals. For each role:
Use this as a guide to begin to put together content that can get them excited. This could include videos, blog articles, special reports, buyer’s guides, and case studies. Make sure these are aimed squarely at the issues faced by this buyer or influencer.
Next, establish a process by which your sales team will engage each of these people. This can be done virtually by social, email, and web meetings. Not every influencer engagement will go according to plan, but it is important to have a plan.
Next, make sure your salespeople are trained. They need to understand the perspective of each decision-maker and influencer. They need to be familiar with the content and when to share it.
The more decision-makers and influencers involved, the more strategic you need to be.
Does this take some work? Of course. As the great philosopher, Bruce Cockburn said, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.” Wrestling through this with your team will make them more effective. Executing this strategy will increase your win rate. And these days, we need every advantage we can get!
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