Tag: Decision Maker

There Is No Single Decision Maker In Enterprise Sales

There Is No Single Decision Maker In Enterprise Sales

Brian G. Burns says many great things in his videos and podcasts, but this one video sums up B2B sales more than all the rest.

I coach salespeople saying that Sales is nothing but helping decision-makers (plural) make the correct decision in the timeframe that we need it done. It is an overriding theme in my book, Eliminate Your Competition.

Think about that above paragraph for a second. What are the key phrases:

  • Helping – As Zig Ziglar used to say, stop selling and start helping. Sales is about assisting (helping) a person along the path.
  • Decision-makers – there are many decisions by many different people along the way. The final decision is the decision to buy your product, but everything you do is a choice. As the excellent Rush song, Freewill, says, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”
  • Make a correct decision – Ultimately, we want the “buy” decision, but long before that, we need the “meet with me” decision, the “listen to my advice” decision, the “don’t like my competitor’s pitch better” decision, and many more.
  • In our timeframe, salespeople have a fiduciary responsibility to their employers to close deals in the time frame needed by their employers. Let’s face it; we are the company’s revenue arm, and everyone’s income depends on us selling the company’s product and bringing in revenue.

There are hundreds or thousands of decisions that get made in a long sales cycle product. In some markets, it can take a year (or maybe two years) from the time the company realizes that they might need to do something to when they make a final purchase decision. In that time, dozens of people are each making many decisions along the way. Just about every decision will affect who wins the deal, or who is ahead in the competition to win the contract.

You can sell high and lose. 

You can sell wide and lose. 

You can sell to low-level people and lose. 

The critical thing in business-to-business sales is to do all of them. You still may lose, but if you cover EVERY decision-maker and understand their goals, needs, and pains, then you will be less likely to lose. Remember, they are ALL making critical decisions every day, and you need to ensure that you “win” each of those decisions.

You never completely know who that one person is that can kill a deal. Many people in an organization can say, “No,” but few are empowered to say, “Yes.” Typically, that “Yes” only comes when no one is saying, “No.”

Top leaders at your prospects do not make decisions in a vacuum. While there are cases where the executive overrode the team and made a decision that everyone hated, most of the time, the boss tries to build consensus in the group. If a highly respected person in the department doesn’t like a purchase, it is infrequent that the leader goes against that advice. If you want the top person to decide in your favor, you first need to get that highly respected person to decide in your favor.

That is why coverage is essential, and you must understand if someone is a supporter, neutral, or an enemy. In my book, Eliminate Your Competition, I teach salespeople how to create a Power Matrix to map the influencers in the sale. A Power Matrix covers the 9 (or 25) people that might have an influence over the decision.

It boils down to a couple of simple items and by creating a Power Matrix the salesperson can effectively track what is going on:

  1. Work on trying to get as many supporters as possible. If there are one or more enemies, try to move them to at least being neutral. The most potent and rewarding move is an enemy to a supporter.
  2. Make sure you have a strong supporter (a coach and a champion) that is providing you with private information, coaching you on tactics, and, most importantly, selling on your behave when you are not present.

You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Check out this great video from Brian Burns that summarizes all of this. Brian has a lot more great stuff that he puts out on his YouTube channel. You need to check it out.

Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

Salespeople Affect The Decision-Making Process Of Their Prospects

Salespeople Affect The Decision-Making Process Of Their Prospects

I was recently interviewed by Colin Stewart of Predictable Revenue in his podcast. I have posted links to that podcast as well as the transcript.

During that interview, I made the point that sales is nothing more than affecting decisions. I contend that it is the job of a salesperson to influence the decisions of a prospect. I will take this one step farther and say that a salesperson tries to affect the prospect making a favorable decision in the desired timeframe.

Making a decision in an organization is a very complicated process. It is not like the criminal TV dramas where the wise old judge weighs the evidence and renders a sound decision. It is more like jury trials – relationships between individuals and their personalities are far more powerful than the facts. The reader is encouraged to read “12 Angry Men” or watch the movie starring Peter Fonda and George C. Scott. It is an excellent example of emotions getting in the way of making an impartial decision. It also shows that a poor salesperson (the defendant’s lawyer) can blow the sale. Peter Fonda’s character is an excellent example of a Champion who can sway the emotions of the decision-making group.

The team making a decision is not trying to select the best solution. They will settle for a product that satisfies the majority of their perceived needs. They will look at enough options to make themselves confident that they have a good market sampling.

If you have ever wondered why a company bought a competitor’s offering and not yours, perfection is not the goal in most buying decisions. In many cases, the goal is simply to make a choice that isn’t terrible. It is your job as a salesperson to put your product into those decision criteria.

Do you know how your prospect is making their decision?

This is a common question by every sales manager for all time when reviewing the deals in the pipeline. The question comes even more frequently if the individual salesperson is relatively new or tends to lose deals too often. The simple fact is that your deal is at a significant risk if you do not know the answer to this question.

Of course, if you do know the answer to that question, you may still be at risk if you do not understand that it is your job to influence that decision-making process. The first step is to understand, and the next step is influence, but you cannot affect what you do not understand.

If you want your boss to get off your back about your deals, then know the answer to that vital question AND understand how you will affect that decision. Once you have those two things under control, your manager will be much more interested in the timing of the deal and if you have the resources to execute on your plan to influence the decision.

Sales Is Helping Customers Make The Correct Decision More Quickly

Sales Is Helping Customers Make The Correct Decision More Quickly

Whenever someone buys something, he or she is making a decision. The decision is to spend money in exchange for a product. Following this same logic, it is the job of salespeople to guide and influence this decision process.

It stands to reason that if you are trying to influence someone’s decision-making process, you want to start that effort as early as possible. It is progressively harder to change the decision the later that you start. Eventually, it becomes impossible to reverse the decision.

For instance, if you try to influence the decision one year after the decision is made, you have no chance of success. Your only opportunity that far out is to convince the customer to make a new choice and effectively throw that old decision out. For argument’s sake let’s say that you have 0% of changing the decision.

As we move the timeline earlier, it is probably just as hard to influence the process one month after the decision. You may have more time to achieve this since it might be possible to “return” the purchased product, but even in that case, the original decision is tough to change. As above, let’s assume that this is a 1% chance of happening, but anything past that one month mark is effectively 0%.

Your influence of a prospect’s decision is probably the same throughout the entire month after the decision has been made. Let’s face it you are late.

On the other end of the decision process, before the customer has ever thought about purchasing a product in your space, you probably have the most significant ability to influence the decision (assuming that you have access to the decision maker). Before the decision maker has ever thought of the problem that your product solves, you have the highest ability to influence that decision to be favorable to your product. After all, at that point, your decision maker hasn’t talked to any competitors and hasn’t researched the industry on the Internet. In fact, by this definition, the customer doesn’t even know of the problem!

So in the world of sales professionals where we influence the decision (which is our job) our ability ranges from 100% to 0%, depending on the buying timeframe of our prospect. As we can easily see, as soon as the prospect starts to research the space, our influence begins to dwindle. So it just makes sense that if you want to win more orders (and eliminate your competition), then you need to talking to prospects extremely early in the decision-making process.

The drop-off from a great deal of influence to almost no influence is not a straight line. At the beginning of the process the drop off is slow and then partially through the decision-making process competitors are eliminated, and the choices start to dwindle down. Finally, at the end of the decision-making process, the decision is pretty much made, but the last few steps of the process are to get everyone on board with the decision and perhaps to negotiate the final price.

We need to communicate to prospects early in the decision cycle, but we need to do it effectively and efficiently as we will never be able to predict when the early prospect becomes serious about the benefits that our products provide.

The big challenge is that you need to communicate with your early prospects without spending an inordinate amount of time with them because most of them are not ready to buy, but they are receptive to influence. Your challenge is to communicate with them effectively. Luckily, this is a lot easier in the 21st century that it has ever been. We now have exceptional tools to convey information to prospects quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. These tools are email and social media.

I spend several pages in my book, Eliminate Your Competition, describing how a complex business organization makes a decision. The reason to understand this process is for you, the salesperson, to know where you are in the process and realize that your ability to influence the decision is waning.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header Photo by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

 

Is Your Prospect a Decision Maker OR a Decision Accepter

Is Your Prospect a Decision Maker OR a Decision Accepter

Many salespeople make the mistake of confusing Decision Makers with Decision Accepters. In the worst case, this leads to a lost sale. In the best case, this leads to lost selling cycles. You can recover from the lost selling cycles, but a lost deal is extremely detrimental to your compensation.

What is a Decision Accepter?

Frequently, salespeople confuse the organizational chart with the decision-making apparatus of a prospect. This most often happens with Hunters that do not have a history with the prospect. It also can occur with Farmers that trust that everything is going to go perfectly and therefore rarely plan for the inevitable curveball in the sales campaign. It rarely happens with Gatherers that have made a living out of extracting money from the prospect. Of course, it rarely happens with Trappers who plan ahead on their sales campaigns. If you are confused by these terms, I suggest you check out my book “Eliminate Your Competition” where I go into great detail on these subjects. You can also reach out to me through social media or direct contact on my blog http://www.thetrapper.com.

A Decision Accepter is a person of authority that “rubber stamps” the decision of others in his/her circle of influence. Most of the hard work of gathering data about a product and comparing that information with the needs of the organization is done by others. These influencers collate all of that positive and negative information and then make a decision on what to present to the final decision authority. I explain in my book “Eliminate Your Competition” that this process actually goes through several iterations as it goes through a Decision Making Triangle.

The reason that a Gatherer is so dominant in an account is because a Gatherer will frequently be in the circle of influence of a Decision Acceptor. A Gatherer that is appropriately motivated to close the deal can frequently bypass all of the organization’s decision-making apparatus and convince the Decision Accepter of a decision that the organization actually didn’t consciously make. To eliminate a Gatherer, you must force the decision back down to the decision-making apparatus, and the only practical way to do that is to start your sales campaign very early in the decision process.

The biggest thing to remember is that no one individual person makes a big decision in corporate sales. Instead, there are multiple decision makers, and there may be numerous Decision Acceptors. Understanding how the individuals in the organization work together is incredibly important to be successful at controlling the decision process.

While it is important to call to higher levels of an organization, it is equally important to call wide in an organization and to call low. In my book “Eliminate Your Competition” I explain the Power Matrix. The Power Matrix will help you develop a sales campaign that covers all of the Decision Makers and the Decision Accepter. You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

The organization chart of your prospect will tell you who the Decision Accepter is within the organization. You will only know who the true Decision Makers are by doing the hard work of understanding your prospect’s goals and aspirations.

%d bloggers like this: