How Salespeople Achieve Consensus among B2B Buyers
Today’s complex purchase decisions are made by committee. Here are seven ways you can help drive consensus among all the participants.
March 15, 2017
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that the number of stakeholders involved in business purchase decisions keeps growing. Today, building multiple relationships at key accounts is no longer considered ambitious. It’s a best practice. Relying on a single relationship, even a strong one, is considered a disadvantage.
We now average about seven decision makers per deal. At the current rate, it’s not unreasonable to think that we’ll reach double digit decision makers in a few years.
Assuming you’re identifying and engaging the right people, and you’re confident that your solution can solve the business problem, the next step is helping the buying committee reach a consensus. Here are seven tips for doing just that.
1. Rally the committee around a common goal. One of the hardest challenges when dealing with a committee is the simple fact that you’re dealing with so many individuals. Each person brings a unique perspective and often different priorities and concerns to the table. One of the first orders of business is getting them to connect all of those to a single strategic goal at the company level.
2. Pave the way for understanding. Because members of the buying committee often represent different areas of the business, they speak and think differently about challenges and priorities. Help everyone understand each point of view. At the same time, bridge the gap between the distinct language each member uses to talk about the business so they can better communicate – even when you’re not present. A simple example is helping IT and marketing understand each other.
3. Deliver insights. A key factor in driving consensus is showing the committee that you’re someone worth listening to. You can set yourself apart by sharing insights and recommendations that aren’t run-of-the-mill. Go above and beyond in your research and interactions to surface an overlooked opportunity that the account would be foolish to pass up. Get the committee thinking strategically and in a new way, and you’ll be one step closer to getting them to follow your lead.
4. Focus on the right issue. Research by CEB found that the biggest challenge for consensus purchases is agreeing on the best approach to solving their problem – not on which vendor to choose. Rather than focus the majority of your efforts on convincing prospective accounts that your company is the vendor of choice, help them figure out the most fitting solution type/category. This requires a consultative approach and finding a way to be involved earlier in the buying process. Think a combination of social selling and content provided by your marketing colleagues.
5. Facilitate conversations. Though you need to address the concerns and priorities of each individual on the buying committee, you also need the group to agree on the best approach to solving their problem. To that end, provide them with information and content that sparks discussions and gets them thinking about issues from a big-picture perspective rather than from their siloed viewpoints.
6. Make it personal. The consensus sale requires a careful balancing act – you need to address the professional and personal concerns of each committee member. Learn what makes each member tick and motivates them to take action – or what prevents them from doing so. Once you’ve got this figured out, you can tailor your conversations and content to make it clear how supporting your solution will either reduce their personal risk or reward them.
7. Overcome obstacles. You will invariably encounter numerous barriers to purchase. In fact, a particular buying committee member might be your biggest obstacle to moving forward. Focus on getting this individual (or individuals) on board by acknowledging the strategic importance of the project. In other words, remind them that this is in the best interests of their company, regardless of any personal reservations.
Just because a deal is multi-faceted, doesn’t mean it needs to be overly complex. Download LinkedIn’s Definitive Kit: Mastering the Consensus Sale.