The Challenges of Selling to Multiple People
November 1, 2015
This posting is directed to those of us who are in Business to Business sales situations and your success depends on gaining the support of multiple people who will decide on your offer. In most large to medium size businesses there are usually several people kept behind the scenes in making decisions on whether your product or services are right for their organization. I have seen, in many situations, where there is one individual tasked with gathering information, engaging a salesperson, and accepting proposals for the prospect company. This person is in control of all interaction and even leads you to believe that they have some decision making power regarding your proposal. Granted, they may be one of many people that has a vote on whether to accept your offer or not but they are in the minority and most likely a diluted impact on the final decision.
When you find yourself faced with this type of “decision by committee” situation, first of all you need to ask and understand your buyers process in making this decision and who or what areas of the company are involved in the group decision. You must diplomatically gain information and work to gain access to those individuals so you can deliver a consistent message about your product or service and how you are able to address the issues that the company is faced with. This approach can be very difficult and take time but if you allow yourself to go with the flow and wait for direction from the person assigned to manage your prospects buying process you will most likely fail to gain the sale.
How do you gain access to all of the people involved in your prospects buying process? I have heard some comment that this can be like “herding cats”. Yes, this is a good description of what you might experience but if you are persistent, diplomatic, and skilled, you can accomplish success in herding the cats. You first must acknowledge and position yourself with that point person who has been tasked with keeping all of those “vendors” away. Inquire into who and what departments are involved in the decision and how the “process” will proceed. Will the proposals be scored based on the important things? What are those things and why? Is the final decision based on a majority of yes vs. no votes? Ask permission to introduce yourself either in person or by a phone conversation to each of the decision committee. You will most likely not be able to connect with all of the people involved but you might gain a few more of them to deliver a brief and focused compelling message that might be in your favor.
Dealing with many people that have your fate in their hands is becoming more common place and the better and more strategic you can approach this situation, the more successful you will be. All the best to you in herding cats.