What changes in your organisation would create the greatest advantage for you?


The cost of getting the selection wrong could be as high as seven times the annual salary, if not more

Coach or Train

What skills do your people need to make the greatest sustainable improvement?

Do you find selling to multiple decision makers fun?

In the 1990s corporate buying decisions, for any given type of product or service, were typically made by one to two decision makers within that company. By 2000 it was more commonly three to five and by 2010 some reports suggest it was up to eight.

The more people involved, the more complex the decision making process is likely to be. It will take more time because the decision making unit (DMU) will aim to collaborate and build a consensus. People in the DMU want the buy in from others and will not be comfortable making a decision in isolation from the others, even if they have the official authority to do so.  

Standard Sales Process

Most sales people learn to sell based on meeting with a single prospect and follow a fairly simple process which often goes something like this:
  • Build rapport
  • Ask questions and listen for customer needs
  • Link your solutions to their requirements and needs
  • Present the customer their vision of a solution (yours)
  • Handle any concerns and close the sale
This process can work just find, even if you have to split the process and do the “fact-find” first and come back with a proposal. If you try to use this type of approach with a DMU of three to eight people it will feel like trying to solve a “Rubik’s cube” blindfolded…

Major differences with multiple decision makers and complex sales

There are some major differences we need to recognise first.
  1. You are not in charge any more – the buying process is. The DMU has a buying process, or at least a series of steps, that they have to follow. They have jump through some hoops of their own making and there are normally criteria they and the decision they make is being measured against or at least some boxes they have to tick. 
  2. Some people in the DMU negotiate for a living and get paid to make the best possible deal. Not only are buyers more informed about the options available to them in the marketing place (thanks Google) many have also invested in training themselves to be better buyers or at least better negotiators. It is possible one or more of the DMU spend almost as much time buying as you do selling – and some of them could be on a bonus based on concessions won.
  3. They do not really need us as much anymore. For the vast majority of procurement the members of the DMU are well educated and well informed about our area of expertise. With a few strokes of a keyboard they can find similar suppliers offering similar solutions and invite three to six potential companies in to a beauty parade and sometimes a reverse auction. 
In this new world the sales person is responsible for developing the relationships between the buying team and their company over a longer period of time; facilitating appropriate communications to diagnose the problems, identifying new value adding options, mapping the DMU, process and criteria, putting an action plan in place to win over the key people on the DMU, being there at each step in their journey with a helping hand and ultimately picking up the purchase order…

Look out for the three keys to managing multiple decision makers - coming to this blog soon... Or contact me here is if you just can't wait.


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