Our internal research here at Reilly Sales Training found that the average B2B buying decision includes 5.8 people. If selling one person on your value-added solution is challenging enough, 5.8 people complicate the process. This means 5.8 problems to solve, 5.8 separate purchasing biases, 5.8 individual expectations to exceed, and 5.8 individual definitions of value. No wonder group decision making is one of the greatest challenges salespeople face.
Salespeople sell across multiple departments, at different levels, and in multiple locations. Influencing a group of decision makers is challenging, but doable. The complexity of group decision making is so discouraging that some salespeople give up before they start.
Even though group decisions take longer and are more difficult, decision makers prefer a group for several reasons. Group decisions are safer and insulate against individual risk. Groups prefer consensus, safety, and the status quo. In a group setting, you’re competing against other suppliers while dealing with the group’s dynamics. Although this presents a greater challenge for some, it can also create a great opportunity for salespeople who understand group selling.
In our latest edition of Value-Added Selling, we explore the dynamics of group decision making and provide salespeople with several ideas to more effectively manage the group decision-making process. Our research shows that generating group consensus is critical to your success.
Too many salespeople focus on just closing the sale. They believe a signed contract is the only measure of success. Although securing the business is a goal, it’s not the most immediate goal. The immediate goal is consensus, not contract.
Our internal research on group decision making shows that 48 percent of decision makers said gaining agreement and consensus among themselves was their greatest frustration. Although gaining consensus is the decision maker’s greatest frustration, it is the salesperson’s greatest opportunity.
Your immediate goal — small win — is to gain consensus early in the process. Help the group discover their needs and agree on those needs. Once the group agrees, discuss possible solutions and options to satisfy their needs and solve the problems. Gain consensus on how to solve a problem or satisfy the need.
Consensus early in the decision-making process makes it easier to gain consensus later in the process. Cohesive teams are more likely to conform. Early consensus in the process paves the way for team cohesiveness during decision making.
Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training and Tom Reilly Training, both being St. Louis-based, privately-owned companies that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers and service professionals. Call Paul at 636-778-0175 or email Paul@ReillySalesTraining.com.