The three people on buying teams: What every salesperson must know (Part 3 of 5)

How can salespeople help their prospect sell internally? As a salesperson, it's a question you will often face because, for whatever reason you simply cannot gain direct access to the purchasing authority: the person (or people) who have the economic power to make a purchasing decision.

In order to devise the best strategy and plan of action for your prospect/champion to sell internally, a salesperson must understand their environment. Last time we provided a basic outline of the purchase cycle. By understanding this construct, salespeople gain tremendous insights into an organisation’s current ‘state of mind’ and what kind of information it will most likely be seeking, both now and in the future.

But we don't sell companies or organisations – we sell people. So it should go without saying that the most creative of strategies and tactics are people-oriented. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the types of people that make up a buying team, in terms of the roles they play, and the forces impacting upon them. With this knowledge, you can create an effective sales strategy for your prospect that will address the different needs and motivations of the buying team members.

Regardless of however many people are on a buying team (3, 7, 12, 30…), its members can be distilled down into three, distinct categories:

  1. Authority

    The ultimate authority is almost always one person. Although it may appear as if authority is vested in a committee or a group, this is very rarely the case. Within the buying team, they're often the person with position power (but not always!), and in most cases, they hold all of the economic power. In other words, without their final approval, the team will rarely make a purchase.

  2. Implementers/users

    These are the people who will put the product or service to work within the organisation. Unlike the authority, they can't say yes and approve a purchase, but if they believe the solution won't be effective, they can certainly express reservations and say no. They can also be highly credible champions.

  3. Technicians

    These are the experts charged with the responsibility of ensuring the solution will work. As with implementers/users, they can't say yes, but if they believe the product or service won't function as required, they can say no. Note that a "technicians" expertise doesn't necessarily apply to the ‘technology’ of the product/service. For example, a technician could be a lawyer advising on how the contract is written.

Whether or not you can gain direct access to the buying team, it's critical to understand who the players are and the role each of them play. When you can gain direct access to the buying team, you can improve your chances of success by matching members from each of the three categories with members from your own selling team. For example, if you can get your engineers talking directly with their engineers, or your product specialist talking directly with the prospect's, communication can be more productive and effective.

But even in instances when you don't have direct access to the buying team, you can couple your previous knowledge of *where* the prospect is in the purchase cycle with this new knowledge of *who* your contact/champion needs to be selling to internally. This will arm you with a big-picture view of the organisation's environment and allow you to leverage as much creativity as possible as you consider your objectives, sales strategy and tactics.

Next time we'll look at defining your objectives, and after that we'll wrap it all up by discussing what to consider when forming your sales strategy.

Posted: 3/14/2012 3:43:57 PM by Brett Morris | with 0 comments
Filed under: buying, internally, prospect, sell, team
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