Why Engaging Buying Committees is Your Key to 2015 Sales Success

By Dan Sixsmith and Tom Pisello

Did you know that...
  • Only 59% of sales reps will achieve their quota this year, down sharply from 67% last year ? (Accenture)
  • The #1 criteria for making a purchasing decision is widespread support for you and your company across your prospect’s organization? (CEB)
  • At the enterprise level, there are as many as 10 members in the buying decision committee? (IDC) 
The reality is that with more decision makers, your deals are getting more complicated, and as a result your opportunities are getting stalled, and those that close are taking longer to get approved.

According to IDC, the number of decision makers  involved in your deals has increased by 40% over the past 3 years, a direct fallout from the Great Recession and “Frugalnomics” – a condition where buyers are more risk-averse and require compelling financial justification to consider your solution versus remaining with the status quo.

Here are our recommendations on how you can connect and engage more decision makers to achieve sales success in 2015 and beyond:

1.   Identify The Members of The Buying Committee
One of our senior leaders and Alinean Co-Founder, Betty McNeil, a former sales trainer for IBM and current rainmaker advises that you ask your prospect the following question: "Who besides yourself will be involved in the decision?" This is a simple and critical first step in identifying the team that will be involved in your prospect's (or current customer's) final decision.

While it is great to have a champion on your side within the organization, it is very rare that this person alone can seal the deal for you. As Step 1 you should create a map of all the folks involved in the decision, the executive sponsors, business and financial leaders, technical reviewers, budget holders, and influencers of all types.

2.  Connect Deep Within The Organization
As a general rule, connecting with numerous stakeholders within your client or prospect's organization is now a requirement. Jill Konrath in her popular sales blog outlines a formula that heavily uses LinkedIn as a tool: http://bit.ly/1tprRJO.

If you haven't already uncovered the names of the buyer decision committee, Konrath advises to search your champion's name on LinkedIn and then look for 'others at Company XYZ' for ideas. You can also leverage the advanced search feature to select specific titles at that company.

Now you need to connect with these folks on LinkedIn. Konrath also advises that you may actually need to help your champion identify others who will help finalize the deal. Again, LinkedIn is a great tool for this. This must be managed tactfully and on a case-by-case basis.

Work with and leverage your champion as much as possible. Let her know that you will be working to help her move your deal through the process. But the new terrain means you need to be more proactive and involved in your client's decision-making process than ever before.

3.   Demonstrate Personalized Value To Each Decision Maker
As you move along the process with your champion, invariably you will be called upon to meet several new members of the committee and each of them likely will have a different agenda.

Their focus may be technical, operations, business, marketing, sales or financially focused. In order to be able to facilitate each of these stakeholders decision, you will need to understand what challenges are important to each unique person and then deliver a tailored and personalized identification of the pain and value message in response.

Beyond mere value messaging, today’s buyer requires more motivation. It is key to also provide a quantification of the “cost of do nothing” and business benefits, as well as 3rd party evidence to support the claims. The ability to connect with each buyer’s unique point-of-value is critical. 

Our team at Alinean creates value messaging and tools that do just this. ValueStory enables sale execs to deliver tailored value messages, insights and financial justification for each stakeholder in the organization.  Using the prospect’s role in the decision-making process, industry, company size and responses to key discovery / assessment questions, the tool intelligently creates and guides a personalized value conversations and quantification on the fly.

4.  Use Social Channels To Closely Monitor The Company
In addition to connecting with the key players from the prospect's organization on LinkedIn, there are other social tactics you can use to obtain insights and add on-going value to your conversations.

Set up a Google Alert for your prospect company so you can stay up to date on everything that is happening around the organization whether its product releases, executive moves, company priorities, positioning against the competition or financial reporting.

You can also follow the company on Twitter and Facebook to get a sense of the company's social personality and the issues that it chooses to focus upon. Having detailed knowledge about your prospect's organization and its challenges will help you properly position your solution and also give you added confidence in future conversations.

The Bottom-Line

With more stakeholders involved in each decision, your deals are getting more complex, with more deals getting stalled, and the deals that do close taking longer to close as a result.

To overcome quota shortfalls and thrive in this more complex sales environment, you need to find new ways to identify the stakeholders involved in the decision and deliver tailored value messages and quantification to all members of the buying decision committee.


Brian MacIver said…
Insightful Blog, Tom.
And, that IBM question of "WHO besides yourself?" IS as vital today as it was 40 years ago.

There is a second IBM question, just as useful, but now seldom asked, which is "WHO can stop this deal?"

Here is where Competitive Sales Strategy, Sales Gaming comes into play!

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