Does this scenario sound familiar?
You’ve nurtured a deal for six months, working with Kyle and Miranda at corporate headquarters. You’ve put in countless hours of meetings and demonstrations. You’ve built ROI models and answered tough questions. Now, you’ve finally submitted your proposal, believing it meets all of the necessary specifications.
As a formality, Kyle calls to say thanks and give you a decision timeline.
“I’ll just need Jennifer to give it a final sign-off,” he says.
Jennifer? Who’s that? you wonder.
Apparently, she’s the ultimate buyer and decision-maker—a complete unknown now standing between you and your final sale.
Understanding stakeholder relationships in B2B sales
Unfortunately, most B2B salespeople can remember a similar occasion in their careers. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially if a merger or reorganization occurs during the late stages of negotiations. But in most cases, it’s simply an oversight during the planning process.
One of the most critical steps in winning the complex sale is understanding the various stakeholders who will be part of the B2B sales process.
5 Typical buyer roles in the complex sales process
As you navigate the complex B2B sales cycles in your industry, be prepared to work with these types of buyer roles:
While technically not part of the decision-making process, the gatekeeper still plays an important role. The larger the organization you’re selling into, the more likely you will need to work through an administrative assistant, mid-level manager or other gatekeeper in order to schedule time with those involved in the buying process.
2. Economic buyer
The economic buyer brings a dollars-and-cents mindset to the project. They likely have a financial background and sometimes (but not always) reside in the procurement department. While budget is rarely the only deciding factor, they can certainly derail a deal when the numbers don’t meet their needs.
3. Technical evaluator
The IT buyer holds more sway in recent years than ever before, because technology now underpins far more solutions. Making sure new solutions are easy to install, connect, maintain and grow is lens that the technical evaluator brings to a complex B2B sale. Like the economic buyer, the technical evaluator is rarely the final say in a “yes” decision but can certainly be a factor in a “no sale” situation.
The champion drives the sales process. This individual serves as the primary contact and coordinates the complex B2B sales process. They’re usually in a more hands-on role than the ultimate decision-maker, but still well respected across the organization. They tend to develop the most intimate knowledge of the needs, challenges, features and priorities that will ultimately drive a final decision. Their support is make-or-break for your success.
5. Ultimate decision-maker
The final approver can take many forms; he or she can be a C-suite executive, branch manager or department head. What all ultimate decision-makers have in common is a need to solve a pressing problem or achieve a corporate goal. Their time is likely limited, and they rely on trusted allies in the organization for recommendations and information.
Curious about the tips and techniques that work with each of these complex sales roles? Check out our companion article, “Master these techniques to connect with each member of the buying committee.”
Start smart with call center support
While a call center can never replace the knowledge and skill you bring to closing a complex B2B sale, they can support your efforts. Early qualification of potential prospects, research and information gathering and appointment-setting are all ideal tasks that free up the internal sales team’s time while producing valuable information to move the complex sale forward. Contact us to learn more about our approach and past successes.