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5 Crucial Tips for Selling to Multiple Decision-Makers

Posted by IndustrySelect on Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Selling to Multiple Decision-Makers


Selling B2B products and services to the U.S. manufacturing industry has become increasingly challenging due to the presence of multiple decision-makers within organizations and the numerous hurtles that this dynamic sector is currently facing. Today, we'll explore effective strategies for B2B sales professionals to navigate the complexities of engaging with multiple decision-makers and increase their chances of success in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

In recent years, the dynamics of decision-making within organizations have evolved significantly. Previously, the average number of decision-makers in any given organization was 5.4 in 2013, which increased to 6.8 in 2017. Presently, it is not uncommon to encounter organizations with as many as ten individuals involved in the decision-making process. This changing landscape necessitates a strategic approach to engage and influence multiple decision-makers effectively.

The Power Dynamic Has Changed

Here's a list of the decision-makers you may find in a manufacturing buying group*:

• Plant Manager
• President
• President, CEO
• Maintenance Manager
• Owner
• Owner & President
• Engineering Manager
• Owner & CEO
• Maintenance Supervisor
• Plant Operations Manager
• Purchasing Manager
• Operations & Plant Manager
• Operations Manager
• Director, Engineering
• Plant Engineer
• Purchasing Agent
• Owner, President & CEO
• Engineering & Maintenance Manager
• Director, Safety
• Human Resources Manager
• Controller
• President, CFO
• Safety Manager
• Safety Coordinator
• Director, Human Resources
• Director, Operations
• Facilities Manager
• Vice-President, Engineering

(*These titles are all available to IndustrySelect subscribers. Click here to learn more.)

If you're thinking, "Wow, that's a long list," you're right. Having a diverse buying group allows companies to assess the overall value of a product or service more accurately.

Unfortunately, it also removes most of the bargaining power salespeople once had in the buying process. Today, 68% of decision-makers research products or services online independently before meeting with a sales rep. Many of those decision-makers - around 60% - would prefer to avoid dealing with a sales rep at all.

5 Key Tips for Selling to Multiple Decision-Makers

Here's the bottom line: selling B2B products and services - in any market - is more challenging than ever before. The manufacturing industry is no exception. Today, we'll be covering 5 crucial tips to help salespeople and marketers in the manufacturing industry effectively handle buying groups with multiple decision-makers.

1. Prescriptive Sales - The Key to Modern B2B Sales

Clients in the manufacturing industry don't want to deal with sales reps that waltz into their office and hard-sell a product or service.

Investments in this industry require a significant amount of capital. Additionally, any investment a manufacturer makes has the potential to affect every other aspect of its operations either negatively or positively.

For example, if a defective product causes a problem in the engineering department, that issue will also adversely affect the production and QA departments.

To break through, you'll need to employ prescriptive selling techniques. In a prescriptive sales strategy, the sales rep doesn't hard-push a product or service.

Instead, they work with clients to identify pain points and give them objectively valuable insider advice to help the client address those pain points - even at the cost of a sale.

Utilizing prescriptive sales will help boost your brand image and differentiate you from competitors. It will also help you retain clients longer.

By adopting prescriptive sales strategies, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and enhance your brand image. Clients appreciate the personalized guidance and insights they receive, establishing you as a trusted advisor rather than just another salesperson. This approach not only increases your chances of closing sales but also fosters long-term client relationships.

By working closely with clients to understand their pain points and providing valuable advice, you demonstrate your commitment to their success. This approach not only sets you apart from traditional hard-selling methods but also helps you build a strong brand, stand out from competitors, and retain clients in the long run.

2. Understand Who Really Influences the Buying Decision

Once you've got a prescriptive sales strategy, you need to identify who really holds the influence in the buying group.

For example, let's say your buying group includes a CEO, a CFO and a Safety Director. Your product or service is specifically intended to make workplaces safer.

In this scenario the Safety Director should be your primary target. Although their title carries less weight than that of the CEO, they'll be calling the shots for safety-related investments.

For any sale, you should always arrange your targets by level of influence. Find out who will be most affected by the product or service you offer, and address their pain points first.

In addition, don't overlook the power of networking and building relationships with these influential decision-makers. Attend industry events, engage in conversations, and establish connections that go beyond the sales process. Building rapport with key influencers can solidify your position as a trusted partner and increase the likelihood of their advocacy within the buying group.

By identifying and targeting the decision-makers with the greatest influence and relevance, you position yourself strategically to address their pain points effectively and increase the overall success of your sales efforts within the buying group.

3. Have an Internal Champion

Every sale you push should have an internal champion attached to it. The internal champion is somebody within the buying group who will champion your product to other buyers.

Think back to how 60% of decision-makers don't even want to interface with sales reps. An internal champion allows you to skirt that issue by having a resource other than the sales rep who will advocate for the product or service.

Ideally, you should have your internal champion set up before you even start to meet with the buying group. Make connections with potential internal champions through networking to build a rapport. If you can't accomplish that, try to make the primary influencer in your buying group your internal champion. If you're able to sell them on your product or service, you'll have a decision-maker on your side whose opinion holds weight in the buying decision.

However, if you find it challenging to identify an internal champion ahead of time, focus on winning over the primary influencer within the buying group. If you can convince this influential decision-maker of the value and benefits of your offering, you'll have a powerful ally whose opinion holds significant weight in the overall buying decision. Their endorsement can significantly influence the rest of the group, accelerating the path to a successful sale.

Remember, having an internal champion is not just about having someone to vouch for your product or service. It's about fostering a relationship of mutual trust and shared goals. Work collaboratively with your champion, providing them with the necessary resources and support to effectively advocate for your offering within the organization. By nurturing this partnership, you create a strong bond that propels your sales efforts forward.

4. Leverage Data & Analytics

In today's data-driven world, B2B sales professionals can gain a competitive edge by leveraging data and analytics to gather valuable insights into their target organizations and decision-makers. By utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) systems, sales intelligence platforms, and market research, you can access crucial information such as organizational structure, purchasing patterns, industry trends, and individual preferences.

This data-driven approach allows you to tailor your sales strategies and messaging, identify the most promising opportunities, and prioritize your efforts towards decision-makers who are most likely to convert. Embracing technology and analytics empowers you with a deeper understanding of your target market and positions you as a knowledgeable partner who can provide unique solutions to their specific challenges.

5. Find the Winning Compromise

Today, few sales deals get done without compromise from both parties.

The key is facilitating an agreement that allows the salesperson to maintain a good deal while simultaneously making the buying group happy.

Selling to multiple decision-makers in the U.S. manufacturing industry is like running a wild obstacle course. But armed with a consultative approach, a sharp eye for stakeholders, a squad of internal cheerleaders, a custom-made value proposition, and the power of consensus, you'll conquer this challenge like a sales rockstar.

If you've applied the tips in this article to your sales process, you should have no issues coming to a winning compromise with the buying group. But if you feel like you need an extra push, why not try out IndustrySelect?

With up to 30 data points, including contact information and key data for those hard-to-reach decision-makers, IndustrySelect is your secret weapon for sales success. Don’t waste time searching for leads or struggling to connect with decision-makers. Sign up for a free demo or learn more about how IndustrySelect can revolutionize your sales approach. Want to try it out? Set up your free demo account, loaded with 800 free companies, so you can experience firsthand, all the benefits IndustrySelect can bring to your business. 

Further Reading: Selling in a Downturn: Opportunities & Best Practices

Editor's note: This article was originally published in November 2019. It has been updated with new information. 

Want to keep up with the latest sales and marketing trends and exclusive industrial statistics from MNI? The free weekly IndustrySelect Insider email is the industry's top source for sales, marketing and industrial news you can't find anywhere else. Subscribe here.

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