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Unraveling the Decision Process in B2B Sales: Roles and Challenges

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Decision Process in B2B Sales

In the world of sales, there are significant differences between selling to consumers (B2C) and selling to companies (B2B). One of the main differences lies in the decision-making process.

While in B2C you usually deal directly with the decision maker - the consumer - in B2B, as the value of the business increases, more people get involved in the complex buying journey.

In this article, we will explore in detail the decision-making process in B2B sales, highlighting the different roles and challenges involved.

The Decision Process in Layers

In the context of B2B sales, we can view the decision-making process as a series of layers, each playing a specific role. Below, we'll look at these layers in order.

1. initiator

The first layer is represented by the initiator, who kicks off the buying process. This can happen when this initiator attends events, trade fairs or webinars and has first contact with the solution on offer.

The initiator brings information about this product or service to the organization, arousing curiosity for its analysis.

2. Champion

Once the initiator identifies an opportunity based on the solution presented, they become the champion. The champion is responsible for receiving the initiator's message and assessing whether the solution is relevant to the organization.

He takes on the role of advocate, seeking support among his coworkers and pushing the proposal forward.

3. Decision maker

The champion, realizing the relevance of the solution, seeks to involve the decision-maker. The decision-maker is the person with the authority to make the final purchasing decision.

Depending on the company, this could be a director or even a C-level executive. The role of the decision-maker is to understand the proposed benefits and carefully assess whether this is the best choice for the organization.

4. Buyer

After the decision-maker's assessment, the decision is communicated to the buyer. The buyer is the person responsible for making the purchase itself, negotiating terms and conditions and ensuring that the process is carried out correctly. The buyer is fundamental to concluding the deal.

The Challenges of the Decision Process

As organizations grow in size and complexity, the decision-making process in B2B sales can become more challenging. In addition to the roles mentioned above, other players emerge who can impact the conclusion of the deal.

Let's explore some of these challenges:

1. User

In many cases, especially when the solution involves a significant change in work processes, the decision-maker may seek the opinion of the end user.

For example, if you are selling an Applicant Tracking System, the user could be a recruiter. The user has practical knowledge of the solution and can influence the final decision by sharing their perception of the proposed solution.

2. Gatekeeper (Path Blocker)

There are people in the organization who can block or hinder the completion of the purchase. These blockers, also known as gatekeepers, are responsible for controlling access to certain areas of the organization, usually due to their specific role or authority over the budget.

The decision-maker needs to identify who the gatekeeper is and find a way around this problem in order to go ahead with the purchase.

3. Influencer

An effective strategy for bypassing the gatekeeper is to use the influencer. The influencer has the task of persuading the gatekeeper and eliminating any obstacles to approval of the purchase.

In many cases, the influencer is someone who has a close relationship with the gatekeeper and can present solid arguments in favor of the solution, such as a positive return on investment (ROI) analysis.

In addition, influencers play a crucial role in building relationships of trust with others involved in the decision-making process.

Adapting the Decision Process with Organizational Growth

As companies grow and become more complex, the decision-making process in B2B sales can become even more intricate.

For example, in a larger organization, the decision-maker may face additional challenges when trying to get approval for the purchase. This is because there are now other stakeholders, such as the quality team or even the CEO, who can exert influence on the gatekeeper.

To overcome challenges, the decision-maker can include new roles in the decision-making process, such as the influencer mentioned above. These people play a fundamental role in obtaining relevant information and constructing arguments to convince the gatekeeper to approve the purchase.

The influencer's involvement also helps to establish a relationship of trust with the gatekeeper, paving the way for the deal to be concluded.

Conclusion

As deals grow and complexities increase, it's important to be aware of the different roles involved, from the initiator to the buyer, and to recognize the additional challenges that can arise, such as gatekeepers and roadblocks.

Adapting the decision-making process as the organization expands and strategically including influencers is key to gaining buy-in and closing successful deals.

In B2B sales, each interaction with the various stakeholders is a unique opportunity to demonstrate value and understand their specific concerns.

By understanding and properly addressing the roles and challenges involved, you will be better placed to drive the decision-making process and win new customers in a highly competitive market.

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Rica Barros

Rica Barros is founder and CEO of Pareto, the leading AI startup in Latin America