Probably some of the best advice given in The New Strategic Selling, by Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman, Tad Tuleja and J.W. Marriott, is that they offer their readers a way to understand how companies buy products and services. The authors suggest there are four buying influences:
- Economic Buying Influence — Who at the customer/client will give the final economic approval to buy? There have been plenty of situations over the years where people have missed this one. Is there money in the budget? Will the owner/CEO have to approve? Is someone else’s approval required? Do you know that individual?
- User Buying Influences — This one is kind of obvious, but here’s a recent example. I have a client who has strong relationships with the owner/CEOs at many companies, but he doesn’t know the users yet. He needs to identify the users with buying influence and develop relationships with them, too.
- Technical Buying Influences — These are the gatekeepers. They may not always have big titles, but they have veto rights.
- Coaches — The role of the coach is to guide you in the sales process. I like to call them “insiders.” I would highly recommend that you establish an “insider” relationship with every major customer/client. This should be someone who, for whatever reason, likes you and your company, and wants you to be successful. I am NOT suggesting anything unethical. I will probably touch on this subject more in my upcoming series of best practices for obtaining new customers/clients.
The authors do a great job of explaining each role. In my experience, many sales have been lost because there were not relationships in place with all four types of influencers.
Have you lost any sales due to this?