There are some extra challenges involved in making a sale to a company when there are multiple decision-makers that have to be taken into account.
Sometimes, you have to hold the same presentation or meeting numerous times, and there can be more negotiations than you originally anticipated.
Although these precautions are taken, the end goal is to make a sale, and once you cross this hurdle and can do so, the success of that moment will make all the turmoil you faced worthwhile.
In sales, a deal that has multiple decision makers will be one with a higher value, so having the skills to handle such a situation are extremely desirable.
In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss eight different ways you can handle a sale when multiple decision-makers are involved to help your sales pitch go without a hitch.
How Do You Handle a Sale with Multiple Decision Makers?
When you handle a sale with multiple decision-makers, you must be equipped with enough background information about the company’s interests, such as the identity of its vital stakeholders or decision-makers, needs of the different key players in reference to the company, the kind of industry the company is in, and the various factors of this industry that may be relevant to your sale.
During the discovery phase the goal is to figure out what the pain points of the different parties involved could be, and how to address them.
For example, a Director in Finance will have competing motives than that of a Director of Marketing.
Understanding this is critical in being able to navigate the complex matrix when multiple decision makers are involved. There are some strategies that work better than others.
The following paragraphs break down eight of those methods that you can use to handle a sale with numerous decision-makers.
Know the Decision Makers
This first one may seem like a given, but it is a common mistake a lot of people make from the offset: know who all the decision-makers involved are.
An excellent way to find this out at the beginning is simply to ask the client once you have gotten a conversational rapport set up. But even with that, you can also do some background research before approaching the company and make a list of possible decision-makers.
Be sure to use LinkedIn to check before any meetings have started.
Knowing the decision-makers involved also goes beyond just knowing who they are. It is also essential, as a salesperson, to understand what each of these decision-makers is most concerned about: their pain point.
Understanding the highest priority of a decision-maker is the key to being able to adequately address them and position your product in a way that will be meaningful to them (in terms of satisfying their needs/expectations).
If, for example, the financial head of the company is one of the decision-makers involved, they are most likely to be concerned with how your product will affect the company’s bottom line or the costs versus the financial benefits of your product.
Say you are selling a product that will help the employees of the business. With the financial head, you want to position your presentation in a way that will go more in-depth into the numbers as opposed to a soft discussion about employee satisfaction.
Make Your Information as Concise as Possible
When dealing with multiple interested parties, you need to provide information that is clear and concise to all the individuals involved in the process. Make sure that information is forthcoming on the pricing and logistics involved in setting your product up with the business.
Utilise visual tools such as flow charts, infographics, and other diagrams that will make your solution readily digestible even to a layman.
The reason for this is that there is be internal discussion regarding your solution, and you have to remember that the prospect’s you’re speaking to are not experts in your offering.
Having graphs, summary points and visual information can make those internal discussions much more productive.
Avoid the situation where you neglect to mention terms and conditions that could potentially change the customer’s opinion on the product until after the sale has been made.
Overlooking hidden fees or additional terms and conditions, can and will make your job more difficult in the future. Also, it could lead to painful and avoidable disagreements with your client.
Understand That Some Stakeholders Have More Influence
If you are giving a presentation in which all the different stakeholders will all be present, it is expedient to understand the different levels of interest each stakeholder has. Some stakeholders will be more important to convince than others.
Make sure that, although you provide information that is useful to all the parties involved, you must ensure that you address the key stakeholders predominantly.
Some salespeople make the mistake of thinking that you can know which stakeholder is most important by considering their title. But in actuality, this assumption can be detrimental to your sale.
In a small business, for example, there may be employees such as the owner’s assistant or sometimes the owner’s spouse who do not officially work for the company, but that may be even more important to convince than the owner themselves.
There are also individuals who the main stakeholder may value the opinion of the most. In these cases, it is beneficial to know that it may be these people that you need to convince so that they can, in turn, convince the stakeholder.
Most of the time, these people are not made evident to the salesperson. So, it is your duty to be vigilant in addressing every individual involved in a professional and convincing manner throughout the entire sales process (this means not being prejudiced).
Another level of this is understanding the individual’s disposition towards you. An individual can, from the offset, have either a favourable or an unfavourable inclination towards your company, your product, or you as the salesperson (for any reason).
Understanding those who will take some extra warming up to and the misconceptions or disagreements they may already have with you or your company is also a critical thing that must be considered.
Some sales coaches advise that a salesperson should set up an influence map and visually draw out for themselves the different influencers in the business and the role they will play in whether their product or service sells or does not sell.
The parts of an influence map that should be included are “identifying influence,” “moving beyond titles,” and “managing the decision process.”
Be Willing to Give Multiple Presentations
You may not always get the opportunity to get all your stakeholders involved in one presentation. However, you should try your best to negotiate for one demo if you think it will help sell the product in a faster time frame.
Having multiple presentations, however, can be advantageous to you if the stakeholders that you meet in these different presentations all have various pain points.
This is an opportunity for you as the salesperson to have different presentations set up catered to the various parties you will have to present to. It is sometimes possible to offer the same demo to each group, but it may not be the best method.
While you want to set up presentations that carry some of the same information across, you want to also have specific details that will target each individual group you are presenting to in a way that is personal to them.
Let’s take an example where you have to give three separate presentations: one to the shareholders of the company, one to the business owner and their spouse who run the company, and one to the employees of the company, who will at the end of the day, purchase the product.
To the first group, you have to make the overall benefit of your product to the company’s bottom line clear.
To the second group, you may need to prove that your product is both easy to implement and good for the business.
To the third group, you have to show that the product is necessary for them to own as individuals in the capacity of them working for this company.
Be Verbal About the Benefits of Your Product
It is crucial, however redundant it may seem, to continuously verbalise the benefits of your product in different ways when you are communicating with your client.
You also need to differentiate your product from that of your competitors, verbally.
Some may call this your elevator pitch.
What makes your product unique and beneficial should be stated in a way that your client will remember and in a way that can be repeated to others easily.
If you can incorporate this elevator pitch into your demos and your conversations, you can potentially leave a lasting memory of your product with the client you are pitching to.
To set up this elevator pitch, list out the key takeaways that you wish your clients to have after speaking with them. Work on ways to state these key takeaways, incorporating them into your presentation, adding it unto your closing remarks, etc.
For example, if you work for a company that helps companies set up employee benefits, you might want your client to know that your product helps them to attract and retain quality talent that will differentiate them from their competitors. You will want to incorporate the phrase “attract and retain quality talent” to the end of your speech in a way that will resonate with your client.
Be Prepared to Address Questions Effectively
The other part of giving an effective sales pitch besides presenting your product itself is how you interact with questions and the concerns of the client you are trying to address. Always leave room for questions to be asked.
If you have been given 20 minutes to present, try to keep your presentation short, possibly within half the allotted time, and leave ample space for questions to be asked by the client(s).
Clients are looking for answers to their questions that are truly direct and that adequately provide them with the information they are looking for.
Try to include the item in your response where necessary. Keep your answers concise and straightforward while delivering high-level information at the same time. Prioritise your client’s concerns to your pre-planned schedule.
If your prospective client should have questions oriented around a particular subject area, it may be a sign to revisit your presentation and address that specific topic. Then you can ask if they have any additional questions about the item to make sure there is no gap in their understanding of the product.
It is okay to not have an answer to a client right away on a tricky question you may not have been asked before. If a situation like this arises, do not beat around the bush, and give your client an incomplete answer. Provide information close to the question they are seeking, admit you will need to go back and get them the information they request, and quickly provide a time and avenue at which you will provide the answer to their question.
For example, you can say, “I know…[about the question], however, I haven’t been asked about this specific scenario so, as I have your email address here, I will contact our ‘XYZ team member’ to find out and get back to you with the answer to your question right after this meeting.”
Have a deck of practice questions available on you to go through and practice addressing issues during an actual presentation so that when you get there, you have some of your answers off-hand already.
Learn to Manage the Decision-Making Process
With this type of situation, if the decision-making process is left unmonitored, the sale can fall through because of the delay taken in pushing out a decision. That is not to say you should put pressure on the client; this could also put them off to purchasing and lead to a lost sale.
But you do need to keep track of the decision-making process and make periodic check-ins on the client to ensure that the process does move along. You can save a log of the progress with the client either on paper or electronically to keep track of it all.
Develop actions that can help push the sale along with the different decision-makers. Identify those who have strong influence but a negative disposition; they should be converted.
To do so, you must know what solution targets their primary interests and lay emphasis on it.
You must insulate a decision-maker who may have a stake in forming a relationship with a competitor instead of you. Meanwhile, promote the interests of those who are positively disposed towards you and your product.
In addition, you want to keep your product in the mind of your client. An excellent way to do this is to periodically check-in, even after the sale has pulled through.
You do not necessarily need to remind the client of your product each time you check-in on them. Part of checking in is just to develop and maintain a relationship with the client.
Dropping in can be a little less insistent than calling, but this all depends on the client and how you relate to them.
Just making sure you remain in their thoughts does wonders in keeping the sales process going and encourages them to buy future products or services from you.
Have Empathy and Be Patient
Lastly, empathy and patience are vital skills needed to close the deal when you have a situation with multiple decision-makers at play.
Understanding your clients from their pain points to their motivations and concerns will make the sales process smoother for everyone who plays a role.
When you are empathetic to your clients, you can anticipate the problems they may encounter or the issues that may cause a hindrance to your sale before they arise.
It also allows you to be able to develop a relationship with them.
Before even preparing your pitch, make time to talk to the business owner or the key decision-maker.
The first step to understanding their needs and how your product can be beneficial to their company is to hear it straight from them. Getting these clients to talk to you about their issues requires that first, you gain their trust, and this is where empathy again comes into play.
Most often, decision-makers have to consider several different angles to their investment: the return on investment, the effect on employees, how the product will be received in the work environment, and how necessary the product is are all factors they may be considering.
Being the salesperson that can speak to all of these issues will set you aside from others. In a situation with multiple decision-makers, this can be key.
Take Away Points
While it may seem like dealing with numerous decision-makers in a business-to-business (B2B) sale is a cumbersome experience, it can instead be a rewarding one that leads to higher profits and excellent relationships with long-lasting clients.
Because of this, putting the extra work in can prove to be worth your while in the long run.
This is particularly salient for those looking to enter into Enterprise sales roles.
Besides this, dealing with multiple decision-makers is also quite common in B2B sales because of the nature of most companies.
Even in small businesses, there can be numerous decision-makers that you need to pass through before you can make a successful sale, so understanding how to deal with situations of this context is necessary nevertheless.