“Remember when sales were easy?”
Okay, maybe no one’s ever said that. Sales has always been a challenge, and sales staff have always had to find new ways to pique interest and close the deal.
But you can’t deny the fact that the buying process has changed dramatically over the past decade. Once upon a time, a sales professional only had to contact one person – one key decision-maker – within an organization in order to pitch their products and make the sale.
These days, corporate decision-making is more collaborative. Instead of relying on one person to make choices for the entire company, companies are inviting larger “buying groups” of stakeholders to get involved in the process.
This may sound like a change for the better, but if you’re in sales it means you’re looking at a much bigger investment of time and energy per prospect.
But don’t despair! Even though selling to buying groups instead of a single corporate buyer can be more complicated, it doesn’t have to dampen your sales outlook.
By using the information below, you can learn how to build consensus within that buying team and make the sale.
1. Focus on the Team’s Shared Goals
Buying groups are made up of stakeholders from several different departments. Naturally, each of them will come to the table with their own set of perspectives, priorities, and preferences. You need to take these into account when trying to make a sale.
You might be tempted to simply personalize your pitch for each person in the group. Conventional wisdom states that personalization leads to increased sales. But when you’re dealing with a team, using this approach alone could backfire.
Think about it like this:
- You customize your message for each individual on the purchasing team.
- Each person receives different information that emphasizes how your product or service meets their narrowly defined needs.
- These personalized sales pitches highlight the stakeholders’ diverging goals and priorities instead of focusing on common ground.
- The purchasing team has difficulty reaching a decision to buy because of their competing goals.
Personalization works to a point, but in this context you also have to find the common ground between all stakeholders. You need to be able to demonstrate not just how each department benefits, but also how your products and services will help the company as a whole. Not only does it help you cast a vision for the whole buying group, it also gives them a set of shared priorities they can all agree on.
2. Equip the Team
This builds on point 1. It’s very important for buying groups to have all the information necessary to make a purchasing decision, and it’s important for them to get consistent information. Make sure that you’ve done your research and can clearly demonstrate to the buying team how your products/services solve a problem for their company.
Presentation matters. The information that you provide to the sales team should be clear, organized, and well-packaged.
Here are three ways to professionally present your material:
A Slide Presentation
One way to provide the purchasing team with the information they need is to give them a good old-fashioned slide deck. The traditional method is, of course, to give this presentation in person – but that may not be realistic. The good news? It’s also not necessary.
You can host your presentation online so that the buying team can review it at their leisure. If you have a high-quality mic and some decent screen-capture software (QuickTime works fine), you can even provide commentary to add value to the presentation.
This option is great, because it can be difficult to get the entire buying team on a call at the same time. With a recorded presentation, they can each watch it when it’s convenient for them.
On the other hand, without any sort of real-time interaction, it can be difficult to address your buyers’ concerns. So if you can get the whole committee together for a meeting, do it. Host a conference call, share your screen, and deliver your presentation like you’re in the room with them. Even if you can’t get them all together, you can record the meeting and send it out for review later.
A Sales Kit
A sales kit is an effective tool for communicating your message to buying teams, and gives them some tangible materials around your products and services. You can include the following:
- An informational company brochure
- A sales letter
- Product and services overview sheet
- Articles from the press about your company
- Client testimonials
- Information about awards and distinctions your company has received
An Explainer Video
An explainer video is a brief but informative video that presents your value proposition in 60 seconds or less. There are several reasons to consider using an explainer video when working with buying groups:
- Videos are more effective than written material alone. We live in a society that is overwhelmed with information. These days, people tend to scan articles and brochures… or skip reading them altogether. What this means to you is that the buying team members may not take the time necessary to read all of the information contained in your sales kit. So simply providing your company information in written form is no guarantee that people will read it.
- Explainer videos are more memorable than a standard slide presentation. Explainer videos are entertaining as well as informative. When potential customers view a video outlining the benefits to their company, they are more likely to remember the presentation.
- Explainer videos are concise. Using a brief video to present your sales pitch can help clarify your message. Sales kits can be used to delve into details, but videos cut to the chase. They present your core message clearly and concisely.
- Videos can be accessed and shared easily. Unlike sales kits, videos can be obtained easily. You either need to mail or personally give a sales kit to members of the buying team. With a video, you simply need to attach it to an e-mail, share a link, or include it on your company’s website.
3. Find an Advocate
You won’t be given access to every meeting that the buying team takes part in. To be sure that your voice is heard, find someone on the buying team who is enthusiastic about your products and services.
This person can be your primary contact within the company and they can advocate for your company in your absence.
Make sure that you provide support to your advocate. Be available to them and answer all inquiries quickly and completely. Having an ally on the buying team who will rally behind your business will prove to be a great asset.
Buying Teams Are The Present – And The Future
You may be longing for the days when you only had to work with one individual buyer at a company. But that’s just not going to happen. Buying groups are everywhere, and they’re here to stay.
Working with a buying groups can be challenging. If you want to be successful, you need to focus on common goals, properly equip the team, and work with an advocate. Do these and the buying team will soon make a purchasing decision in your favor.