In the final post of our digitally enabled sales rep series, we address a newer phenomenon in sales, the rise of consensus buying and how reps can effectively navigate these buyer groups. Not so long ago, selling was straight-forward (not easy, but straight-forward). The process went something like this: map the organization, find the guy or gal who sits in the corner office, get to them, and if you were compelling you had your decision maker.
Not so today. Instead, in today’s environment, consensus buying is the new norm. In recent cutting-edge research by CEB, their finding was that on average there are 5.4 stakeholders in a B2B decision-making process. These decision makers have different motivations, perceptions of value, agendas, and politics. More often than not, the result of more decision makers is not a better decision, it is (the dreaded) no decision.
Adapting to the New Selling Environment
So what are sales people to do? At MarketBridge we see opportunities for sales people to improve their likelihood of closing deals in the following ways.
- Really understand the buying group and the motivations of each decision-maker. There is so much profiling data available on who is involved in these buying groups and what they care about. Reps need an easy way to aggregate and analyze this information.
- Identify the champion of the buying group who will drive the sale forward (and sell the deal for you). There are markers for these individual buyers (based on intent data, content consumption, and previous behaviors) which can help reps focus on the one buyer they need to get onside to start.
- Focus energy on the decision makers who you can influence. There will always be detractors in any deal, so getting reps to focus on the subset of the buying group they need to get on-side is critical (and then enabling the champion to influence these key stakeholders).
- Be prescriptive and proactive with the content the customer needs to drive the stakeholder group to make a decision. Most marketing and sales material is focused on helping to promote the product and get into discussions with prospects but more needs to focus on helping the decision group make the decision (and arming champions to push the deal forward). Prescription and pro-activeness is key in this area as most reps don’t intuitively sell this way.
What is exciting is that the data and tools to accomplish all of this exist today. The payback on deal conversion rate is huge; 1-2 more deals per rep per quarter can mean the difference between missing and crushing the number.
Are you feeling the effects of the new decision making process? What are you doing to address it in your business? We would love to talk about it with you.