Among the questions they present to us, these three probably stand out as most common:
- How do I get to the economic buying influence?
- How can I effectively utilize a strategic coach?
- What about the competition?
These are all reasonable questions, and we devote this section of to providing some answers. We begin with what is probably the single most frequently identified problem area: what to do with that singularly important, yet often inaccessible individual called the economic buying influence.
The heart of Strategic Selling is managing every one of your sales objectives so that you need up in the Win-Win quadrant of the matrix with all your buying influences. Frequently this proves to be most problematic with regard to economic buying influences, because this role differs from the other buying influences in two significant ways.
- Economic buying influences are more difficult to identify than the other buying influences.
- Economic buying influences are more difficult to reach, both physically and psychologically, than those who play user and technical buying roles.
For these reasons, establishing a Win–Win outcome with the economic buying influence is a common area of concern, even among salespeople who are extremely competent in establishing such outcomes with other buying influences.
Yet failure to cover the economic buying influence adequately, or to see to it that he or she perceives a personal win in very sale, can undermine even the most straightforward sales scenario. Since the economic buyer can by definition veto the sale at any point in selling cycle, it’s only common sense to cover that key player as thoroughly as possible, and as early as possible in the selling cycle.
When we cover the economic buying influence in our Strategic Selling programmes, we begin by asking our participants this pointed question. Here are a few of their most common responses:
- I don’t know who he is.
- I don’t know where in the buying organization to look for that kind of authority.
- The person in purchasing says I should deal just with her.
- It’s like being called into the Headmaster’s office when I meet him.
- She refuses to see me.
- I don’t have any credibility with people at that level.
- No one wants to assume the authority to sign for the order.
- All her calls are screened
- He makes me nervous – I don’t know what to say to him.
- I don’t know what his needs are.
- She just doesn’t talk to salespeople
Just as typical is the fact that, like all the responses we get, they can be broken down into three basic categories. In the thousands of programmes we’ve presented, and in our own business as well, we always see this same pattern. No matter what industry our clients are in, and no matter what the average size of their complex sales, their complaints about getting to the economic buying influence are always variations of three root problems.
Problem 1: They can’t identify the economic buying influence.
Problem 2: They’re blocked from getting to the person playing this role.
Problem 3: They’re uncomfortable about talking to him or her.
If you look at the responses given on the list above, you’ll see that this pattern holds true.
Responses such as: The person in purchasing says talk to her and She refuses to see me and All her calls are screened decode as I’m being blocked from seeing her.
Responses such as he makes me nervous and I don’t have any credibility and it’s like being in the Headmaster’s office decode as I’m uncomfortable talking to the economic buyer.
If you review your past sales and think about the problems you experienced in getting to your economic buying influences, we’re certain that you’ll see the very same pattern.
In helping our clients become more skilful in identifying the economic buyer for each of their sales objectives we’ve found it useful to emphasize three concepts:
- The economic buyer, like all the other buying influences, is,
- The person playing the economic buying influence role is often highly placed in the buying organization.
- People acting as economic buying influences are generally paid very well for their ability to see into the future.