We get frequent questions from innovative solution sellers about how to deal with the power and politics of B2B Buying Centers. This is after you have started talking with people at a prospective customer organization. And yet a deal doesn't seem to be coming through.Here is our take and we hope this makes our dear readers feel better:
Power and politics is the nature of B2B Buying Centers
Dealing with the power and politics of buying centers involves following steps:
- Identify the user whose job and life will be significantly improved if your innovative solution was adopted by the organization. Try to get a meeting with that person and check whether your assumption is indeed true. The existing vendor or process may be so embedded that anything new will mean a whole lot of disruption. If it does, then figure out a way to ensure success after adoption of your product or service. If the user is convinced that your organization will not fail her in her job - your marketing battle is half won.
- Who are the bosses involved? Marketers assume that the CEO or VP can help their case. But organizations are not fiefdoms because they have to get the work done. The CEO or VP cannot push people to accept something on which they have reservations or at least unasked questions. However, its really important to keep communication with other members of the buying center whether it is the CEO, VP, CIO or VP of Supply Chain. Consider sending out informational mail (yes snail mail) and emails. Even though the Chief officer may not see your mail piece the assistant is likely to forward the mail piece to the relevant manager.
- Who is the relevant manager? This one can be hard to determine as different people have different ideas of who the most relevant manager is for the decision. A good way to identify the relevant manager is to ask : "Will this manager look great when the results start coming in from our solution?" Meanwhile putting all potential managers on your mailing list is a good idea.
Ultimately, B2B marketers need to recognize that B2B buying is not about buying something for fun. Your product must speak to an organizational objective that is important. Your sales task is to persuade the buying center members that it is urgent as well.