How Sales Pros Can Win Over 7 Key Decision Makers in a B2B Purchase

B2B sales pros need to build consensus for large purchases. Here are the seven types of people on the B2B buying committee and ideas for winning them over.

February 23, 2017

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The saying “there is power in numbers” is an apt way to describe the state of B2B sales. The fact is, it’s no longer a winning strategy for sales professionals to identify and court a single decision maker when it comes to major purchases. 

CEB has analyzed data from thousands of B2B marketers, sellers, and buyers around the world to discover what sets top-performing salespeople apart from their average-performing peers when it comes to selling complex solutions. According to Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman of CEB, no single contact within a target account has all the attributes needed to help push a purchase through. Instead, they identified seven distinct stakeholder profiles, each of whom help build consensus and drive action around a large corporate purchase or initiative. 

Get to Know the Big 7 

Here are the seven types of people and ways sales professionals can identify them: 

1. Go-Getters. Motivated by organizational improvement, these people are always on the lookout for good ideas and will champion action around great insights. Look for those who comment on and share thought leadership, and who tout their companies’ successes. 

2. Teachers. Colleagues often turn to Teachers, who are passionate about sharing insights and excel at persuading others to take a specific course of action. Look for individuals who are well connected with others in their organizations and generously pass along content. 

3. Skeptics. These people push back at seemingly every turn when it comes to large, complicated projects. Even when they get behind a new idea, they counsel a careful, measured approach. A Skeptic shares updates or publishes posts that call for more planning, more strategy, etc.

4. Guides. Willing to share what’s happening behind the scenes in their organizations – even gossip – Guides supply information that’s typically unavailable to outsiders. 

5. Friends. As the name suggests, Friends are readily accessible and will happily help sales professionals network with other stakeholders in the organization. Look for people who have added sales reps to their networks. 

6. Climbers. With a primary focus on personal gain, Climbers champion projects that will reflect well on them. You can identify Climbers through LinkedIn profiles that tout their role in successful company initiatives, and highlight personal achievements and awards. 

7. Blockers. This is the toughest committee member to win over as Blockers are strongly committed to the status quo and show little interest in speaking with outside vendors. A Blocker shares posts and updates highlighting the value of consistency, sustainability, and the like. Blockers’ professional networks are usually quite limited in scope. 

How to Make Inroads Across the Committee

Now that you know who you’re dealing with, here are ideas for how best to win each committee member over.

1. Go-Getters. Reach out with the latest research and thought leadership on a top-of-mind issue. If it makes sense, invite a Go-Getter to attend an exclusive invite-only webinar or local event featuring a recognized industry expert. 

2. Teachers. Offer access to any content and information Teachers express interest in, and point them to other relevant content based on their consumption patterns. Invite them to attend webinars and other educational forums, while making it easy for them to extend the invitation to others. Reach out to make them aware of newly published content, and connect the dots so they know who else within their organization may find it interesting. 

3. Skeptics. Share articles, papers, and other content – especially from recognized industry experts – that illustrate why and how those in traditionally slow-moving companies have successfully embraced change in a measured fashion. 

4. Guides. Engage Guides in conversation and invite them to share the latest company initiatives and to name those involved and the roles they play.  

5. Friends. Ask Friends to introduce you to stakeholders that they and their Guide colleagues name.

6. Climbers. Underscore how you can help the Climber’s company address its need in a way that shines a light on the Climber, perhaps helping advance that person’s career or showing him or her as a better leader. Supply the Climber with all needed information and content to make a compelling business case. Don’t hesitate to offer ghostwriting emails on behalf of the Climber so kudos for project success accrues to that person. 

7. Blockers. Your best bet with Blockers is to find a way to understand their resistance to change and identify a way to overcome this. This can be easier said than done and may require that you recruit someone like a Go-Getter to help break down the barriers. 

Building consensus when selling to multiple decision makers is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s sales pros. The first step to success is understanding who is on the committee. The next step is downloading LinkedIn's Definitive Kit: Mastering the Consensus Sale to learn the three key steps to build customer consensus.