We used to say that everything has a price tag, and if there is a product and a potential buyer then it is only a matter of negotiation!
The statement above can be valid for a specific kind of commercial deals, but for sure this is not the case when we refer to B2B sales.
The writers of the book “The New Strategic Selling”, Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman define the concept of “Complex Sales” as all the sales that depend on the decision and approval of more than one person to be done.
This is exactly the case for B2B sales, which by nature and by the above definition is considered very complex sales deals.
Further beyond the complexity due to the requirement of this kind of sales having to go through multiple approvals or multiple internal convincing, it is gets also complicated due to the previous understanding of our customer’s organization. Who is who inside the organization? Who for sure has the final decision authority about that deal? This will demand an earlier preparation, intelligence, and strategy. And the curious about this is that not always this decision authority follows the hierarchy of an organization. In other words, not always or almost never the higher levels of an organization are directly responsible for the technical details and specification that will strongly influence on the decision for a supplier “A” or supplier “B”.
Of course that at a later stage top management will have to sign off the deal and Purchase Order, especially if the amount involved are “high”, but this by itself doesn’t mean that they were really involved in the decision making process or deciding for which supplier that deal will go to.
It is important to mention that in sales B2B, the understanding of the organizational structure for a specific project (*) sometimes is more important than understanding your own organizational structure. Who is the project manager in charge of the project, who is the chief engineer leading that project for the equipment you are selling, who are the users of that equipment, have they had previous contact with you, your company or your product?
It is also important to understand who are your sponsors within your client, those who like your solution and will speak for you as a preferred supplier during the decision making process, and even more important is to understand who are the ones who can go against you as a supplier or the ones who don’t like your product or solution? But this is a topic for another post, but these are the ones we have to spend more time with.
Another key item to keep in mind is that often from project to project the key decision makers are not the same people, which in turn make the management of the key account even more complicated. Sponsors and blockers change from time to time and the attention for loyal customers must be kept at all times.
The high level of complexity in the B2B business environment demands that preparation of the sales executives are far beyond the tactical and a good and nice power point presentation skill. The B2B environment demands specially a complex strategy every single time you want to close a deal with an existing or new customer.
(*) The meaning of a project is any investment that will lead to Capital expenditure (CAPEX)