According to Gartner, when it comes to major decision-making like changing suppliers, there is now an average of 6.8 stakeholders involved in the customer’s buying process. Why are there more people involved? What has changed at the buyers’ table that more colleagues need to be consulted? The answer is quite simple: companies have adapted to flatter organizational structures. There are fewer layers in each function and the decision making has changed to be more open and transparent.
This has not simplified the buying process though. With more stakeholders around the table, everyone has an opinion and everyone is doing their best to be heard because a change of supplier can have a ripple effect across many organizational functions. Each manager will share their opinion on what needs to be done, from their perspective. They come prepared with anecdotes, fact findings, spreadsheets, and their own agenda. Where some may be in favor of changing supplier tomorrow, others may not even see the need for a change and challenge what a change would actually solve. The buying process is far from being linear. It can actually be quite messy.
In the New Way of Selling, that is exactly the opportunity for salespeople. The more complex the buying process, the greater the opportunity for sales. Because in the end, quite often there is some serious information missing at the discussion table. Information the stakeholders do not know, would like to know, is relevant to their business challenges and would help them with making better decisions. In other words, the new way of selling requires you to figure out what information is missing and would help them in making sense of what to do. Should they stick with their current supplier? Should they consider a change? And if it comes to change, changing to what?
So, ask yourself: “What insightful information are they after”? Consider that the person in the warehouse didn’t know you can help them with operational efficiencies. The VP sales & marketing didn’t know you can help with growing their revenue income. The finance department didn’t know you can help them with reducing the overall cost. These are all insights and will trigger questions for the customer to ask themselves: “What is the risk of not changing”? “What if we do nothing, will that put limits on our growth? What are we missing out on? Help them to translate that risk into cost or missed income. Your advice will be challenged but more often appreciated. Once you got the middle management stakeholders’ consensus on changing, you are ready if required, to step to the CEO with a solid plan of ROI.
The new way of selling and being a Trusted Advisor is so exciting! No one said it was going to be easier, because if it would be than someone else would already be doing it.
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