In today’s selling environment, it’s becoming more and more rare for one individual to be tasked with making a purchasing decision. A multi-person decision-making unit is often used to ensure the best vendor is selected, as well as to spread out the risk involved with making an important decision.
Because of the shift to this purchasing committee model, salespeople must be capable of mapping out the decision-making unit quickly and effectively.
Sales managers must prepare their salespeople for approaching these complex buying environments with confidence, and that starts with understanding the roles that exist within a buying committee.
Understanding the Roles in a Decision-Making Unit
The size of the decision-making unit will vary depending on the organization, and the purchase that needs to be made. But the average number of customer stakeholders involved in B2B purchasing decision is 6.8 – up from 5.4 in late 2014.
Each person on the committee will play a different role, and have a different set of motivators. It’s your salesperson’s job to identify these roles quickly, and adjust their approach accordingly. (Note that we’ve outlined 5 core roles here, but there could be multiple people with the same role on a committee. One person can also play multiple roles.)
These are the people who open or close the door to the organization when the salesperson comes knocking. He or she is typically the Initial point of contact between a salesperson and an organization.
Most committees have at least one member who has a respected opinion, but isn’t the ultimate decider. Even though this individual will not personally make the final decision, he or she will likely have a sizable influence.
Ideally, the end-user of a product or service is part of the purchasing decision. When dealing with this person, the key is to demonstrate the benefits of the product from the user’s perspective.
An advocate is someone who wants your organization, salesperson, or offering to win. They are a key to navigating the other members of the decision-making unit effectively, although many salespeople often misread if someone is advocating for them or not. In reality, this person could be providing the same information to competitors as well.
5. Decision Maker
As the name suggests, the decision maker is the ultimate decider and carries the most weight on the purchasing committee.
Understanding Underlying Motivators
Each person involved in decision making will have some underlying motivation that influences them. Ultimately, everyone wants to choose the best solution for the organization, but other factors come into play. Salespeople must use a strategic questioning strategy to reveal each person’s motivators.
The five most common motivators are:
From this perspective, the most important consideration is how the purchase could affect the team.
This motivation questions the practicality of a product or service from a revenue standpoint. How will it affect the bottom line?
Operationally motivated decision makers are concerned with efficiency. How will the product fit into existing systems?
Individuals motivated by quality want to understand the technical aspects of a solution. They’re concerned with capabilities as well as warranties, guarantees, etc.
Finally, politically motivated decision makers are concerned with the personal costs or benefits of every decision. They want to know how the decision will affect their individual role within the organization.
Putting All the Pieces of the Decision-Making Unit Together
When your sales reps are trying to navigate the decision-making unit inside a client or prospect’s organization, they need to spend extra time researching, planning, and documenting the information they gather. Creating a diagram they can reference is very helpful, and learning to recognize buyer behavior quickly is a must.
Coach your reps to apply a strategic questioning strategy to identify stakeholders and uncover their wants and needs. Once they’ve mapped out the buying unit, your salespeople can tailor their thought leadership and communication to match each person’s behavior style and motivators.
For example, a Dominant personality (on the DISC model) will prefer bullet points, visuals, and short, to-the-point communication.
A Steady personality, on the other hand, wants to avoid risk. A demonstration of your product or service over the competition would help convince this type of buyer.
In today’s complex selling environment, your sales team needs a strategic approach in order to be successful. Winging it on a sales call just isn’t an option. IMPACT Selling® for the Complex Marketplace shows salespeople exactly how to how to navigate the complex sale with multiple layers of decision makers—ensuring they have a place at the table when buying decisions are made or RFPs are written. Learn More.