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Top-Shelf Tip No. 234:

"Life is the sum of all of your choices."

Albert Camus

Cultivate These Decision Makers To Seal The Deal, Part 1

Does this sound familiar? You had a series of great meetings with a corporate prospect. Each meeting included three to four people from the organization. You built a strong relationship, understood their needs and uncovered other issues they needed to consider. You developed a great proposal, thanks to the collaboration with your operations team and you got the proposal in the hands of the prospect sooner than expected.

The prospect was very pleased with the details of the proposal. He indicated that he just needs the green light from Jamie to move forward.

Wait, who's Jamie? Apparently, Jamie is the head of purchasing and someone who could kill the deal.

In B2B sales, most corporate buying decisions involve a core group of people who all influence the final outcome. They each bring their individual expectations and decision criteria to the table.

Today and tomorrow, Promotional Consultant Today shares these insights into these decision-making roles as defined by Mike Schultz, a world-renowned consultant and sales expert.

The Business Driver. Schultz describes the business driver as the person whose primary interest is return on investment. This person is on a mission to create results and impact the bottom line. Sellers tend to know right away that they must connect with the Business Driver, as they usually have the power to create room in the budget for any project they believe in. This is the person who drives the agenda and creates the budget or finds the dollars needed to move the initiative forward.

How to influence them: Business Drivers care about impact. You must demonstrate the value of what you do, and why you do it better than others. Sometimes this takes the form of a quantitative impact like productivity gains of x%. However, it can also take the form of qualitative impact, such as building a promotion that boosts morale.

The Approver. The Approver usually has the final say when it comes to moving forward. They have the responsibility of allocation and best use of funds. In some situations, this may simply be a formality. In others, the Approver will make the ultimate decision based on more specific criteria.

How to influence them: The key here is to learn early on what criteria the Approver considers when it's time to give the go ahead. Do this by involving them and giving them a voice early in the sales process.

Schultz points out that it's not uncommon for the Business Driver to show some resistance when you are interacting with the Approver. The Business Driver might wait until the last minute to pull in the Approver, thinking he will sign off on the deal quickly, but this often backfires. It's worthwhile to get the Approver involved early on. Schultz suggests addressing the issue like this: "In my experience, it's helpful to get folks such as Brian in on the conversation early. I've been doing this for years and, often questions come up that I'll be able to address right then and there, so you don't have to take time to track things down later."

The Evaluator. Schultz describes this role as anyone who evaluates the purchase from an operational perspective—with an eye toward either how the solution relates to the organization, or how the decision will affect them, personally. Their job is to figure out what can go wrong, and to make sure that if something is bought, it will work for the company or for them.

How to influence them: Evaluators can get defensive if you leave them out of the process. Don't ignore them. The Business Driver might say, "Don't worry. I'll get Jane's buy-in on this." But often, relying on the Business Driver to get the Evaluator's buy-in isn't enough. You should orchestrate and lead the process if you believe there's any chance they'll derail the sale.

Read PCT tomorrow for more key roles in the B2B sales process.

Source: Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group and a world-renowned consultant and sales expert. He is co-author of several books, including the Wall Street Journal bestseller Rainmaking Conversations: How to Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation (Wiley, 2011) and Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently (Wiley, 2014). He was named the Top Sales Thought Leader globally in 2011 by Top Sales Awards.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson