Who Really Does the Buying
Yesterday, I wrote about how to create “influencer maps” to determine which key players you should approach during a new sale. When you are working on connecting the dots on your map, you may find it challenging to evaluate the various stakeholders and their purchasing motives.
When I’m speaking on the topic of influencer mapping, I often recommend my students read “Major Sales: Who Really Does the Buying?” This 13-page article, written by Thomas Bonoma in the Harvard Business Review, discusses how the benefits vary by stakeholder role and how you can use six behavioral clues to identify which stakeholders are likely responsible for the ultimate “Yes” or “No.”
Here’s an abstract of the article, which is available for purchase on the HBR website. I highly recommend downloading a copy – it’s worth every penny:
“When is a buyer not really a buyer? How can the best product at the lowest price turn off buyers? Are there anonymous leaders who make the actual buying decisions? As these questions suggest, the reality of buying and selling is often not what it seems. What's more, salespeople often overlook the psychological and emotional factors that figure strongly in buying and selling. By failing to observe these less tangible aspects of selling, a vendor can lose sales without understanding why. In this article, first published in 1982, Thomas V. Bonoma sets up a procedure for analyzing buying decisions and tells sellers how to apply the resulting framework to specific situations. Steps in the procedure include the following. First, identify the actual decision makers. Though it may come as a surprise, power does not correlate perfectly with organizational rank. The author outlines five bases of power and offers six behavioral clues for identifying the real decision makers. Second, determine how buyers view their self-interest. All buyers act selfishly, but they sometimes miscalculate. As a result, diagnosing motivation is one of the most difficult management tasks to do accurately. The author suggests several techniques to determine how buyers choose their own self-interest. Third, gather and apply psychological intelligence. There is no formula for placing sound psychological analyses magically in the sales staff's hands. However, the author offers three guidelines--make sure that sales calls are highly productive and informative, listen to the sales force, and reward rigorous fact gathering, analysis, and execution--to help managers increase sales effectiveness.
“This article includes a one-page preview that quickly summarizes the key ideas and provides an overview of how the concepts work in practice along with suggestions for further reading.”
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