How American Express Effectively Sells in a Complex B2B Environment

Closing the complex B2B sale requires relationships with multiple decision makers. Here’s how American Express navigates the “purchase-by-committee” process.

February 22, 2017

  • Flying Objects in a Chaotic Office

Trusted relationships have long formed the foundation of successful sales transactions. But nuanced shifts in the B2B purchase process have triggered changes in how sales professionals engage and win deals. Rather than develop a relationship with a single key decision maker, salespeople must now cultivate and nurture relationships with multiple stakeholders across the organization. Simply put, empowered buying committees now dictate the sales process and smart organizations are evolving to satisfy their preferences and demands.

For insight into how to navigate a complex sales process involving multiple decision makers, we turned to Fady Daher, Vice President, Global Commercial Payments for American Express.

LI: What are the business trends you have seen surface in Australia that have created a more complex selling process?

FD: There is definitely a growing volume of cross-border trade and international trade transactions occurring. In the B2B space, we’re seeing an increasing requirement for lending and cash flow, and opportunities to improve cash flow, which is different from the traditional corporate payment environment.

You now have to deal with the traditional and the emerging trends, which also means [dealing with] different contacts within an organization. Historically, we may have dealt only with procurement. Now we deal with procurement, treasury and finance teams, so you’re interacting with various aspects of an organization. As the needs multiply, it means you can’t have a one standard or one-size-fits-all approach. You need to start to improve your customization.

LI: How have new marketing strategies contributed to the complexity in your business as it relates to the sales team?

FD: We’re leveraging data to better understand our clients and the patterns that are occurring. That way, when we feed information through to customers and prospects, it is increasingly relevant. If we’re feeding information to a prospect, we’re not just sending a standard, generic mail that everybody gets, hoping for a 1% response rate. It is now a lot more specific and targeted and relevant, so that our response rates jump from 1% to 10%.

LI: Which tools and processes have you implemented?

FD: We have one consistent CRM that’s used across all teams: Salesforce. We’re capturing the customer-related data consistently, and we’re very specific about what fields need to be updated.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is our primary preference. We’ve made an effort to ensure it’s used by each of the functions within our business in Australia and globally. You’ve got cross-border relationships. So if we have a relationship with someone in Singapore or in Hong Kong or in London who’s quite important to making a decision, we know we can go through our…colleague internally to help open a door and start a conversation.

The importance of building relationships and building trust is evident and will always be there. When you build multiple relationships, you can build trust quicker and ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Searching for more insights into how to win the complex sale? Check out LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to Selling to Multiple Decision Makers.