Through the years of selling to major accounts and assisting my clients in selling to major accounts or as we like to say today – business to business selling (B2B sales) – I have found five major or critical variables that impact the decision to buy or not. So today’s B2B Sales Tip is about How the Buying Decision is impacted.
The buying decision is a focal point for b2b sales people; we want to know who will make the buying decision so we can move forward in the sales process. Yet, these five critical variables continue to play havoc on our knowledge of how the buying decision will be made.
So, here are the Five Critical Variables to the Buying Decision…
Five Critical Variables to the Buying Decision
- The Dollar Amount of the Sale
Common sense calls this a no-brainer variable; yet, the guidelines are not set in stone. Every organization will consider dollar amounts differently from each other. In fact, I have heard from the insiders who at one company could write a check for millions and at their new company they have to get approval for anything over $10,000. So the exact amount of what is considered a “large or significant” transaction varies from one organization to another.
You need to ask about what they have done in the past? Do they have budgets for these transactions? Who have they used in the past (gives you an idea of the price range they have experienced)? Ask about the decision making process – how many people are involved? It is best to learn as much as possible about how the size of the sale impacts the progressions of decision makers involved.
- Business Conditions
This variable tends to have a significant negative impact upon individual decision maker’s decision authority. In other words, when times are good – there is less of a constraint upon spending limits since the mood of the organization is to take advantage of all opportunities and have a sense of urgency with decisions. However, when times are bad you can expect a more restrictive level of spending authority. Here you may have had a purchasing manager approve your last contract and today you will need to convince a VP to sign off on your new contract for the same services.
In today’s struggling economy, you must expect budgets and spending authority limits have moved up in the organizational structure. Therefore, it is important for you to call upon and visit with higher-level executives than you did in the past – if you want to continue making b2b sales to this customer. Here is where your past efforts to network within a customer or prospect organization gives you an advantage over the competitor who only met with the lower level purchasing group.
- Experience with You and Your Organization
During the tough times, most companies do not want any additional trouble, headaches or uncertainty. The last part – uncertainty is a very critical piece of the puzzle. Since most corporate types are into safety and security as well as low to no risk in their decision-making, the experience they have with you becomes a key determinant in their decision process. The more they have worked with you and the more comfortable they are regarding your ability to deliver results – the better your chances are of getting a favorable decision.
My question to you is – how often are you meeting with the decision makers and executives of the customer to show them the results and to provide validation relative to the projected and actual ROI results with your company? If you are not doing this – well be prepared to move to the back of the line! The sales people who are building proof – social proof – that the results are exceeding expectations, they are the ones getting ready to build more business even in a downturn economy.
- Experience with Your Product or Service
Probably the most overlooked issue by b2b sales people today. How much experience or inexperience with your type of product or service changes the game relative to major account sales. The reason for this odd twist is quite interesting so here goes. First, when a customer or prospect is experienced with your offering it becomes more of a comparison of benefits and advantages during the sales process since the buyer or decision maker understands what you are selling. However, when you are selling something the buyer or decision maker has NO EXPERIENCE either buying or using the product or service being offered then the entire sales process changes. You first have to educate the buyer on the prospects of your product or service – in other words – you have to build a bridge over their valley of disbelief regarding the need for this type of solution. Removing or changing belief structures is the hardest type of sale you will be asked to do.
You must begin to gather as many testimonials as you can from all the different types of buyers and business as you can. Success stories of how a customer had similar feeling as the prospect, what they felt to begin the implementation and what they found after using the offering or solution. These types of stories allow the prospect to see how they could be part of the success story and create a desire for change. The real issue in this process is change. Few people look for change and need to self discover the reasons for a necessary change. Here is where your ability to master the questioning method of b2b sales becomes your competitive edge in the marketplace. Use it and win more often.
- Potential Organizational Impact
Any major change to the organizational structure of the prospect organization moves the decision into the executive or C-Level suite. Whenever you solution includes changing business processes, head count, elimination of process steps and suggested additional major cost savings or reduction – then welcome to the top of decision-making pyramid. Change is something that is usually resisted at the lower levels of the organizations and must move up the organizational structure.
Now your professionalism as a b2b sales person comes into play in a big way. The better you are prepared to mingle with top executives, coordinate a team selling environment with your executives as well as the prospects executives, the more effective your sales strategy and sales success will become. Your ability to use the questioning model to guide rather than tell the executives what to do is your key to success. Then you close out with a prospect or customer specific sales presentation designed to show them the pathway to their success and abundance will bring the golden guile to you and your organization.
Got a little long winded on my information here, yet, I believe the issues uncovered and your action steps are critical to your long-term b2b sales success. Create an action plan for using this information to improve your positioning today and in the future. Enjoy Your Success.