The organizational buying process is more complicated than traditional b2b sales. It takes more time than a simple sale or the consumer buying process. Making it through multiple levels of purchasing decision-makers in technical sales involves a series of stages that will we share below.
Keep in mind, there are often multiple gatekeepers, numerous decision-makers, and usually more than one approval process. A technical sales engineer will need to go through multiple levels of selling before closing a dead.
What is Organizational Buying?
Organizational buying behavior is the activity of buying by a group of people at a company versus the buying activity of a single decision-maker. Traditionally, this type of buying consists of companies sourcing materials or parts for finished products, machinery, equipment, or replacement parts for existing equipment.
One single person is not left to make the buying decision. Instead, for a purchase decision to be made, you must sell to all influencers of the process.
Recognition of a Problem
The start of an organizational purchasing decision begins with a problem or a need. Within the company, someone has brought this to the attention of company stakeholders.
This stage could involve several situations such as:
- Machine or equipment has broken down or has become inefficient and needs to be replaced.
- The company decides to offer a new product to the market which requires raw materials they currently do not have.
- The purchasing department decides to look for a new supplier that offers a lower price or better quality.
Description of the Need
Next, a company determines what is needed to solve the problem or launch a new product. Examples of these needs include:
- What kind of replacement parts or machines are required
- The number of items needed
- The projected lifespan of the product
- All other product-related details
Usually, the product development team works with the purchasing department to determine the details of the machine, equipment, or items needed in this purchasing decision. It also includes describing complex application requirements and performance specifications.
With the input and information gathered during the second phase, the organization looking for new products or services will put together the technical specifications required.
For suppliers or technical sales engineers who already have a good relationship with the company, they might be informed by a potential buyer that they are looking for specific machinery or are working to launch a new product.
If the seller is a trusted supplier, the potential buyer and seller might even start working together to determine if the seller can offer a solution. For example, discussions may start to see if the supplier has the capability to design a specific part of a new product according to the buyer’s needs.
The work of the sales engineer is most evident in this stage of the decision process. The effort of building trust and relationships with potential customers pays off here when the employer of a technical sales engineer is part of the running of possible suppliers.
A technical sales engineer should make sure that his organization is included and considered when a buyer starts looking for suppliers. Keeping your company on the radar when potential buyers look for suppliers is a must.
After a buyer produces a list of suppliers, decision-makers narrow down the list, depending on certain factors. Maybe they want to work with companies that have been in business for at least five years. Perhaps the buyer is only interested in businesses supplied at least one product to them in the last three years.
At this point, the purchasing department will send a request for proposals from the suppliers on the list. The proposal will include technical specifications, price, delivery time, payment terms, taxes, and any other relevant information.
When each proposal has been carefully studied, some buyers will ask potential suppliers to present directly to the buying organization. Sales engineers are the ones who prepare the presentations. If a separate sales team is involved, make sure they understand the presentation perfectly and answer any complex questions that may arise.
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The group reviews and evaluates proposals and presentations according to set guidelines during this stage. The buying group might also negotiate with possible suppliers for better pricing and better terms. They may also use this time to discuss any concerns with the decision-making.
Again, make sure to be available for individual questions in regards to your product or service.
Once the supplier or suppliers have been selected, the buying organization will finalize the order. Buyers decide on details such as technical specifications, quantity required, lead and delivery time, return policies, and warranty.
After delivery, the customer puts the product to use and gathers feedback. Next, the group will review the purchase. At this time, both the supplier and product performance will be evaluated.
The final performance review will determine if the relationship with the supplier will be continued or terminated. This is one of the important reasons why technical sales engineers and sales teams should have a good and open relationship with their buyers. As a sales engineer, this is where you can learn the most information.
Immediately address any issues or concerns with products and services to maintain the relationship with customers.
Who are Organizational Buyers
As seen from the steps above, the organizational buying process involves many steps. Likewise, the sales process also involves just as many decision-makers. Throughout the buying process, as a technical sales engineer, you may encounter different decision-makers every step of the way. You must identify the influencers and key players early in the process.
With the products involved often being high-risk, expensive, and for long-term use, it is normal for organizations to have many key players and decision-makers involved.
How do you find decision-makers in B2B technical sales and how do you build good relationships with them? These are important questions that every technical sales engineer should always keep in mind.
The first step is to do your research. Aside from understanding the product you are selling and knowing it inside out, you also need to identify potential and qualified leads. Understand your niche, who is part of the market, and what differentiates your products from your competitors. Learn about the target’s industry competition landscape as well.
Furthermore, depending on how well you do your research, you will also be able to find out who the decision-makers are in the organization. Have a deep understanding of your product and your potential buyers. When you do, you’ll be able to confidently approach the right people.
After you’ve done your research and have a clear idea of who the key decision-makers are, use your network to reach them. It’s easier if you are introduced by a common acquaintance or referred by a trusted colleague. However, don’t hesitate to make a cold call or send an email to get the sales process started.
It may take a while to get to the final decision maker, but organizations are big and there will always be another person within the company that you can approach. If your first contact doesn’t pan out, try another route.
Once you’ve reached the right decision-makers, it’s time to build relationships. Before you can sell to anyone, trust and confidence must be earned. Trust in you as a person and a technical sales engineer translates into confidence in the selling organization and their products as well.
Work on being a trusted supplier by actively listening to the buying organization’s pain points and problems. Ask questions and provide value. Be genuinely invested in their success. Doing this helps you get closer to closing that important sale.
Identify Additional Stakeholders
Aside from the decision-makers, there may be other key people and gatekeepers who have influence in the decision-making process. Technical sales engineers need to build a relationship with additional key people as well. For example, a product manager may not have the final say on the purchase of supplies, but his insights and feedback highly influence the final decision-maker.
Another example of a gatekeeper is the executive assistant of the Chief Financial Officer. Maybe you’re being given the run-around by the EA for a firm date for a meeting. You may also need to build a relationship with him or her as part of the buying process to be able to get that sought-after meeting. Being aware of the importance of building these relationships is also part of getting to that final sale.
Find the Opportunities
A technical sales engineer needs to be aware of the different stages of the b2b organizational purchasing decision. Know the right time to get involved. Be present as much as you can. It is important to remember that the journey begins early on, even from the research stage.
Find out as much as you can about qualified leads and how you can help them. Then move on to building relationships and earning trust within the buying organization. Without this essential trust between buyer and seller, it will be hard to get to the end of a technical sales cycle.
Being a technical sales engineer is not always easy. A complex sale to a company with layers of decision-making can take months or even years to complete. However, the hard work and the result of a closed sale will be worth it.
With over 15 years of experience, we don’t just teach “theory.” We provide actionable lessons so you can see results tomorrow by providing you with all of the tools you need to not only significantly increase your personal income but become a top performer at any company. If you are ready to take your technical sales career to the next level or are eager to make a career change, then click here to take the next step towards success with Technical Sales University.