Organizations lacking a sales and marketing strategy that aligns with their buyer’s journey fail to meet the needs of all formal stakeholders and informal influencers. These companies often find themselves blindsided by lost deals and delayed sales cycles that threaten current and future revenue opportunities.
Marketing and sales teams must include these influencers directly as part of their united strategy and must equip buyer decision makers in order to calm influencer concerns during the buying process.
Too often it looks like this...
“The time just isn’t right.”
“We are going to go in a different direction.”
“Our priorities have changed.”
“We are going to stick with how we are currently doing things.”
Or worse yet, silence.
What happened? The deal was at the finish line. You checked all the boxes:
Confirmed an active buying cycle
Confirmed a budget
Developed a relationship with the decision maker and buying committee
Had a clear understanding of buyer needs, challenges, goals
The buyer understands how your product/service helps them
Set a date to make a decision
And then… “Your solution is great, but we are going to hold off for now.”
The blame game
When sales engagements disappear without a clear reason, companies quickly scramble to conjure up an explanation. We blame the sales person. We blame the archaic buyer unwilling to innovate. We blame the decision maker for misleading us. We blame a competitor for spreading lies. We blame a consultant that distracted them.
With a little digging, often we discover that it was none of these active participants. It was Bill from IT or Susan from procurement or Andy from accounting that “just isn’t sure this project aligns with the current direction.”
Influencers vs Decision Makers
Bill? Susan? Andy? Never heard of them.
People like Bill, Susan and Andy are not part of the official buying committee. They are brought in intermittently as part of the decision making process to give their perspective on organizational impact.
And they have the power to kill your deal in a single meeting.
Unlike decision makers, they have not had the opportunity to learn about your company, your solution, or your experience in the industry. Your sales team has not shaken their hand. Your marketing team has not been educating and wooing them.
Because you have not addressed their unique set of needs, this leaves you vulnerable.
Decision makers and members of the buying committee have an active interest in acting to address a problem. Therefore, the sales process is about making it easy for them to decide on your product or service.
Influencers, on the other hand, may see no direct benefit to making a change. As a result, they are naturally adverse to disruption and protective of the status quo.
So what do Bill, Susan and Andy want?
To know that their contributions are still valuable.
To know that they won’t be asked to do more with less.
To know that their resources will not be threatened.
To be included.
Take, for example, a SaaS company that touts the benefit of little internal IT involvement. On one hand, Bill may be comforted by the fact that his resources will not be stretched thinner. On the other hand, Bill may feel like he has just been told that he adds no value.
When he is called in to give his thoughts on the project, since it is a technology project, what do you think he is going to say?
Influencing the Influencer
We want to make sure we have given Bill everything he needs to be able to give an informed opinion when he is asked about the project.
This does not mean that an influencer needs to know all the bells and whistles. An influencer likely isn’t worried about ROI. Influencers are often most concerned with how does this affect me and their role in “protecting” the company.
As a result, it is up to marketing leaders to have a strategy that stretches beyond just attracting the lead but also to anticipate and address the unique needs of influencers. In doing so, we create allies in Bill, Susan and Andy; we empower our buyers to make decisions without second guessing internal impact; and we partner with our sales team to drive revenue more quickly and more effectively.
It’s a Win-Win-Win for all people involved.