By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When managing buying cycles with committees, sellers are often guilty of starting and staying with one person too long. In our workshops, we show there are 3 phases of buying cycles:
- Solution development where buyers understand their desired outcomes, why they can’t be achieved in the current environment and what specific capabilities they need to achieve the outcomes. Ideally Phase 1 is done with Key Player executives.
- Evaluation is often done with mid-to-lower levels that must determine if the “solution” will work in the organization’s environment. During this part of the buying cycle, product evaluations, implementation issues, cost vs. benefit, vendor evaluations, etc. must all be done.
- Commitment is Phase 3 in which the vendor of choice is determined and the executive committee must overcome risk, and if everything moves forward then final pricing must be negotiated.
B and C Players have a tendency to sell serially. By that I mean they try to take the first buyer they encounter through the process without getting others involved. In extreme cases, they’ll go so far as to generate proposals when other committee members are likely not ready. If they attempt to read them, they most likely will not understand why they should move forward.
A Players take their Champions (usually initial contacts), get them through Phase 1 and then ask for access to the other Key Players that will be involved in making buying decisions. By doing so, each Key Player has their unique “solution” and the enterprise view of value is the sum of all value established. Once Phase 1 is complete with a buying committee, the seller has a much better chance of working with mid-to-lower levels that will want to get into detail about offerings that is far more granular than initial discussions with Key Players.
Key: Taking all Key Players through Phase 1, negotiating a written Sequence of Events with them to define the steps and timeframes in making a formal recommendation, and then presenting the content of the proposal to Key Players in Phase 3, minimizes the chances of sellers trying to take one member of the buying committee through the entire sales cycle.