However, all too many times we do! Why? There are a number of reasons. The biggest reason is we may not know who the true decision maker is. We call this person the economic buyer. The economic buyer is defined as the person who can approve your solution without having to get permission. In other words, the economic buyer is the final decision maker. The road to reaching the economic buyer can be a long and winding one. While it would be nice if we only had to call on the economic buyer, we must deal with people at all levels and departments of our customer’s organization and institution. To increase the chances of winning business one must deal with all of the various influences within an account. Their risks, both real and perceived, must be addressed and resolved.
Prospects and customers can be classified into four segments: Users, Technical Influences, Coaches and Economic Buyers. This holds true for large corporations, small businesses, educational institutions and governments.
Let’s take a look at each one of the influences and how to reduce both their real and perceived risks:
Users are the people who directly use products or services. To reduce their risks, discuss and demonstrate training, convenience, comfort, ease of use, error correction, time savings, and technical support. Show how you and your company will support them on a daily basis. If users are not on board with your solution, they may sabotage it or create resistance. They can often say no, but seldom can they say “Yes.”
Sales people often spend a great deal of time with technical influences. Technical influences are people who evaluate your product or service based upon their area of expertise. They may include engineers, technical experts, general counsel, purchasing, and others. To reduce their risks present data, specifications, white papers, performance benchmarks, research, studies, charts, graphs, testing procedures, logistics, contracts, pricing, references etc. Make sure all questions have been answered. As with users, technical influences can block a sale but seldom can they approve one.
Anyone who can provide information about the customer or project. A coach can be anyone and can be found anywhere. By definition coaches generally want to see you win. Their risk is that you don’t win the business. Develop and listen to your coaches. Yes, you should have more than one. The best coach is the economic buyer.
The person who can say “Yes” to spending money on your product, service or solution without having to have permission. They are usually found in the management or executive levels within organizations. To reduce their perceived risks cover cost of ownership, return on investment, positive impact on cash flow, cost justification, alignment with corporate objectives, payback, etc. Deliver a sound business case.
You may not always be able to secure a meeting with the economic buyer, but hopefully you will know why not. That may serve as an indicator as to where you stand. This information helps you provide more accurate forecasts. When you do win a meeting with the economic buyer, be sure to address risks and concerns early in the process.