Great salespeople know understanding the buying ecosystem of their customers is key to closing deals. They use their asking and listening skills to find out all the players on the prospect’s team and how their roles affect the buying decision. Then they craft the sales presentation to appeal to the problem in terms of how it affects each member of the buying ecosystem.
What Is The Buying Ecosystem?
The term comes from biology: an ecosystem is a community or group of living organisms that live in and interact with each other in a specific environment. Great salespeople know there are various interests in the solution to any problem. Each of those interests has a role in deciding whether to purchase your solution. So the buying ecosystem is composed of all those people who participate in deciding what to buy. In large corporate purchases the buying ecosystem has members from many departments. In family decision making the ecosystem is smaller but no less important.
Who Is On The Buying Team?
Look at buying teams in two ways. First what departments are affected by the decision. Then which people in those departments will have an affect on the buying decision? So first determine the job description for each team member. Then find out who the person is in that job in the buying ecosystem. Great salespeople know how to build a relationship with each important person on the buying team. Buying teams have these types of people:
- Decision maker. Always the most important person on the team
- Influencer. Has significant input into the buying decision
- User. Is the entity needing the solution to the problem
- Administrator. Handles the paperwork and details
- Gate keeper. Protects the buying team from outside interference
Remember on even in small buying ecosystems these roles are present. Some members of the buying team may have more than one role.
Here’s A Complex Buying Team Example
When a purchase affects many areas of a company the buying team may have several people in each role. Consider a company looking to expand its manufacturing plant. They need to engage a contractor to build the addition. Here is the buying team line up:
- Decision maker: plant manager. His concern is bringing the project in on budget while providing adequate building to meet the new production goals.
- User: operations manager, line supervisors. These team members are most concerned that the building will meet the functional requirement for manufacturing products. That is right size, right configuration, right facilities and right utilities.
- Influencer: architect, plant engineer, plant maintenance manager. The architect expects the construction company to build according to design. The plant engineer is concerned with the quality of construction. The plant maintenance manager wants ease of maintenance built in.
- Administrator: purchasing manager, attorney. These want all the commercial details of the contract followed.
- Gatekeeper: receptionist, administrative assistants, buyer. These guys manage interference to the buying team so they can do their job. Their role is to limit access by the salesperson to only that the buying team wants. Regardless of their position in the company “pecking order”, they are very important people to the salesperson.
Great salespeople have the talent to convince each of these buying ecosystem members they have the best solution to the problem. While the ultimate decision is made by the plant manager he expects the needs of each of the buying team members will be met. Great salespeople apply the fundamental principles of good selling to each of these people.
Even Family-Sized Decisions Have Buying Teams
So you are a travel agent working with a family to plan a vacation. Here’s the buying ecosystem:
- Decision maker: Mom and/or dad. They have the purse strings, want the trip to meet budget and be a pleasant family experience.
- User: that’s the whole family unit.
- Influencer: kids of course, perhaps friends or other family members who might be joining them. Or opinions of others who have had great vacation experiences. And these need not be formal members of the buying team.
- Administrator: usually a parent who makes sure the vacation plan matches the wants of the family.
- Gatekeeper: any member of the family. Ever had the experience of a kid saying: “I just don’t like her. Let’s go somewhere else.”?
Great salespeople understand the dynamics of family buying ecosystems. They work hard to make sure the needs of each family member is met.
What You Can Do Right Now To Understand The Buying Ecosystem
- Determine the members of a buying team for your typical sale
- Remember each member is a person with particular wants and needs
- Even though the decision maker decides who wins the deal they are influenced by other members of in the buying ecosystem
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Seven, Understanding Buyer Behavior, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.