A vital part of evaluating an opportunity is learning all about buyer process of your prospect company. More broadly, it is an important overall factor in sales account management.
Purchase decision making within a company can range from simple to complex. In smaller companies, it can often happen that purchase approval is made by a single individual. As a general rule, the larger the company, the more complex the buyer process becomes. Some large companies can even require approval from a home office thousands of miles away.
Many times, the decision-making process is more involved than it appears up front. Taking the time to dig in a bit and discover your buyer process can save considerable time and effort—especially in attempting to push through a sale with only partial information.
1. Find Out Up Front
As the sales cycle begins, you should find out as much as you can bout the company’s formal decision-making process. Chart it out and keep track of it. Learn who is involved with the buyer process, and whenever possible get names and job titles. Discover who has ultimate purchase approval—the person who can actually approve or veto it.
2. Informal Details
After you’ve discovered the formal buying process, sound out your contact and learn about any informal decision criteria. For example, perhaps the CEO likes to have a chance to look over company purchases, but this isn’t part of the formal process. Or maybe the CFO, who is the final purchase approval point, likes to run the purchase past certain department heads even though they’re not technically part of the buying process.
If you neglect this point, it can happen that the purchase is mysteriously delayed, while you (and your sales management) are pulling out your hair trying to figure out what the holdup is. You start to have that supreme worry that the sale is going to fall through, when all that’s happening is some informal behind-the-scenes process that you weren’t aware of.
What motivates each of the people along the buyer process? This is something you should endeavor to find out. For example, one might always be watching to save the company money. Another might always be looking to make employees’ jobs easier. Another might always look to some senior executive for an opinion.
Having knowledge of these motivations will make it easier for your main contact to push the purchase through the line. If you yourself end up having to contact any decision-maker directly, you’ll have a good idea of how to talk to them.
4. Access to Decision Makers
It really helps if a salesperson can make direct contact with decision makers, so part of your up-front gathering of information should include which decision makers you will be allowed to directly speak with. Much of the time a company won’t allow an outside salesperson to speak directly with various decision makers, and you’ll have to carefully coach your main contact to sell each one of them. Other times you might be able to directly interact with some but not all.
One common method for getting around a “no contact” rule is to conduct a live demonstration either online or physically at the company. Make sure decision makers are in attendance.
Does your CRM solution allow for keeping track of your prospect company’s buying process? Today’s leading-edge CRM solution makes it possible to easily track who in a company influences a purchase, and even who influences the influencers.
Always learn and understand a prospect company’s buying process right from the start. Do it with every opportunity, and as a regular part of sales account management.
Learn more about Pipeliner CRM. It is Instant Intelligence, Visualized.