We know all about team selling, don’t we? The entire selling organization pitching in to help win deals. In pursuing major account business, it’s a mandatory strategy. But what about the other side of large account pursuits – the other collaborative strategy? Team buying.
I put this in the context of major accounts because that’s where the real complexity is. Think about it. In selling to small and medium-sized accounts, you typically deal directly with the actual decision-maker, the owner or president of the firm. That interaction, while challenging on its own, is limited in scope. With enterprise accounts, though, you face buyer networks with individuals from across the organization, bringing different perspectives to the process. Legal, procurement, finance, and others are represented. And while we know how important it is to understand these buyers, our focus is typically on functions, not personalities. But there’s much more than functions that impact effective communications with these important buyers – these important people.
For example, the buyer network’s accounting manager represents a familiar function. So, it’s natural to make assumptions about accounting’s perspective. Of course, we know accounting. But what about the accounting manager as a person – his or her behavioral styles, traits, and tendencies? Do we assume all accounting managers are the same? Remembering the “people buy from people” mantra, how can you increase your chances of successful communication with buyers as the real people they are?
You start by identifying their behavioral profiles. In Sandler Enterprise Selling, we work with DISC, the proven behavior assessment process, to accomplish this. Consider the behavioral questions about the many personalities in enterprise buyer networks. From a DISC perspective, is the attorney a “D” – dominant? Is the finance manager a “C” – compliant? What about the marketing manager, an “I” – influencer and the project manager, an “S” – supportive? To add complexity, how do the buyers’ styles align with the personalities on your selling team? Without a framework, you’re flying blind. But with a practical guide, you have the roadmap for identifying and adapting to the behavioral puzzle.
In enterprise deals, the stakes are high. With our sales bias, we typically think about the costs of enterprise pursuits incurred by selling organizations in efforts to win treasured deals. Money, people, time and more. But what about the spends of the buying organizations? The same types of costs apply but with a multiplier. Why? Because the buying organizations are in pain – pain that’s driving the need for the purchase. Something must be fixed or improved. And if a bad purchase decision is made, the pain will increase. Often, heads will roll. Lots of pressure, stress, and risk. The drama on both sides ratchets up the emotions – the mortal enemy of communication. So, selling teams must come prepared. Prepared with a behavioral strategy.
How to win? Start with a proven Go/No-Go process to ensure that the deals you pursue are the right ones. The only thing worse than pursuing a bad deal is winning it. And following the behavioral framework can be the key competitive advantage.
In Sandler Enterprise Selling, we utilize the Team Buying Tool, which provides a four-step guide to navigate behavioral buyer networks. First, the key buying team members are identified by title and by their impact on the specific deal – high, medium or low, which can be very different than their title and authority. Their DISC styles are then identified through communication among the selling team members, sharing their experiences with the individual buyers. That’s team selling. Then, the customized motivators and demotivators for each buyer are identified, completing the profiles.
Next, the selling team members’ profiles are reviewed – each teammate’s DISC style and traits. And with your teammates, this information should be precise. With the behavioral work done to this point regarding both sides, you’re ready to craft the selling strategies for effectively communicating with each buyer – what to do and often more importantly, what not to do.
The final step involves identifying the specific action items to move the process forward, including due dates and the individual selling team members responsible. Carefully planning these actions by aligning complementary behavioral styles sets the stage for productive communication – ducks with ducks!
The behavioral complexities of major account buyer networks create significant challenges for selling organizations. But challenges that can be overcome. By understanding and accounting for the different styles of both the buying and selling team members, you can make informed decisions to adapt your behaviors to maximize successful communication. Put in the time and effort and you’ll earn the right to make the behavioral alignment of team buying with team selling a true competitive advantage. And as a result, you’ll win business.