The 6 Types of B2B Buyers (and how to sell to them)

The Dock Team
April 25, 2024
April 29, 2024

If you don't understand what type of buyer you're dealing with, you can't be certain you're taking the right path to closing the deal.

And no, we're not getting into buyer personality types or whether they're dog or cat people (dogs are where it's at, by the way)—it's about understanding their roles, needs, and decision-making processes within their organizations.

Typical roles in a B2B buying committee range from economic buyers—focused on the financial ROI—to buyer champions who advocate for your solution internally. 

Navigating each type requires a more tailored approach to sales conversations, materials, and overall strategy rather than generic pitches and playbooks.

Below, you'll discover:

  • Different B2B buyer types
  • Distinct perspectives of each type 
  • How to engage each effectively 

What types of buyers are there?

The B2B buying journey isn't linear—it's a maze of different touchpoints, triggers, conversations, and people…so many people. 

Gone are the days of the individual buyer. B2B purchases today take place in buying committees full of different buyer personas.

In this ecosystem, every potential buyer has a job to be done, armed with questions, concerns, and expectations needing answers and clarification to make an informed decision—each step critical to the purchase.

Surely you’ve seen this mess of a graphic by now:

According to Gartner, a typical buying decision involves an average of 6-10 people. And people in a variety of positions will have different needs and criteria for buy-in. 

Here's a high-level overview of what that looks like:

  1. Economic Buyer: Primarily concerned with the financial impact of the purchase, focusing on ROI and the overall cost versus benefit analysis of your solution
  2. Champion: Champions advocate for your solution within their org, pushing for adoption by highlighting its value and addressing internal objections
  3. Technical Buyer: Often involved in IT or technical roles, these buyers evaluate your solution's technical compatibility and security
  4. Operational Buyer: Those in positions like COO, Director of Operations, or VP of Operations focus on how a solution integrates with existing systems and processes
  5. Manager: In B2B buying, this influencer can also be a coach or leader who guides internal teams and wants a solution that aligns with strategic goals
  6. Other End Users: Anyone who will directly interact with your solution in their day-to-day 

Understanding the different types of buyers in B2B is crucial for tailoring your approach (and playbook) to meet each decision-maker's needs and expectations. 

So let’s take a more detailed look at the buyer types, the challenges they present to your Sales team, and strategies for engaging them successfully.

1. The Economic Buyer

Economic buyers (not to be confused with financial buyers) are the people who decide whether or not to spend money on your product or service. 

Big picture: Think of them as financial gatekeepers. 

In short, cost control, the bottom line, and ROI are the economic buyer's primary concerns. More specifically, they evaluate the financial impact of a purchase, weighing the potential benefits against the costs. 

Before committing, they look for evidence of value, like increased efficiency, higher revenue, or competitive advantage.

Rich Liu of Everlaw has this to say about selling to the economic buyer on our podcast, Grow & Tell:

Sales Challenges

  • Showcasing the value beyond the cost (or ROI) of your solution—think money saved, money earned
  • Providing cost justification now and over time

Sales Strategies 

Value-based selling prioritizes aligning your offering with the measurable value an economic buyer needs rather than focusing on your solution or the sale itself. 

So how can you implement this?

Communicate ROI in sales enablement content

The right enablement messaging will spell out the specific value gains from your product or service. 

For an economic buyer, consider impactful case studies and testimonials using a mix of metrics, customer stories, and real-world examples that connect the buyer’s specific pain points with your product's ROI benefits—focusing on cost savings and revenue growth.

Share pricing quotes with context

Start with a tool like Dock’s digital sales rooms to integrate context-rich price quotes and order forms in the same place where you share tailored sales enablement material, conversation records, and demos.

Then, personalize the quotes to meet your economic buyer's specific needs and ROI expectations. Provide clear documentation, offer a range of pricing options, and outline the next steps to facilitate a smooth and transparent process that aligns with the buyer's ROI expectations.

Sharing a quote in the complete context of the deal gives the economic buyer far more reason to say yes versus a PDF email attachment with nothing but a big dollar number in it.

But a sales room doesn’t just benefit buyer—it helps your sales team too. When you share a pricing quotes from a Dock workspace, your team can:

  • Track the views and shares of quotes
  • Stay updated on pending signatures and approvals
  • Get real-time notifications when a deal is signed, sealed, and delivered 

2. The Champion

Your buyer champion is the internal advocate who believes in the value of your solution and actively pushes for its adoption within the organization. 

They understand the benefits of your solution and how it aligns with the organization's strategic goals (and also have plenty of insight into internal decision-making criteria and potential roadblocks). 

As the person who’s likely your primary contact throughout a deal, champions play a critical role in getting your product or service in front of key decision-makers. 

TL;DR: They sell for you when you’re not in the room.

But before your team becomes completely dependent on a champion, it’s key to make sure they’re the right person for the job. 

Pete Prowitt, Head of Revenue at Stytch, explains on Grow & Tell: 

"I cannot emphasize the importance of testing your champions early and trying to validate." When it comes to working with the wrong person, Prowitt continues, "It's just a lot of wasted calories on something that pushes or ultimately doesn't close last because the person that you're dependent on or a group of people you're dependent on can't ultimately get you to it."

Sales Challenges

  • Aligning your solution with the organization's goals, not just the champion's needs 
  • Setting up your champion to advocate on your behalf internally
  • Keeping your champion organized to keep the deal from stalling

Sales Strategies

When it comes to building champions, Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify, says:

“You build a champion by providing them the information that they need to go internally, get buy-in, and get the team excited.” 

Focus on buyer enablement

Prioritize providing your buyer champion with information and tools to work through internal roadblocks.

Buyer enablement includes creating and sharing resources like detailed product data, success stories, and industry-specific insights, enabling them to address potential challenges and objections within their organization. 

The goal? Empower the champion with knowledge and evidence that:

  • Supports the value prop of your product
  • Makes it easier for them to advocate during the buying process
  • Helps them tackle roadblocks and facilitate decision-making internally

Create mutual action plans

Dock's mutual action plans (MAPs) provide a clear, step-by-step plan for the sale, highlighting key milestones and timelines and coordinating your Sales team and champion. They offer a shared, organized workspace and avoid the confusion of messy spreadsheets.

With Dock MAPs, each task, role, and responsibility is laid out to streamline communication and "to-dos." MAPs also help your champion clearly show how each part of the plan supports the organization's goals, and who will be involved when. 

3. The Technical Buyer

The technical buyer, someone in a role like CTO, Head of IT, solution architect, or software engineer, is key in evaluating your product's technical elements for their organization. 

Technical buyers often focus on:

  • How well your solution fits within existing systems
  • Compliance with security standards
  • How your product meets technical requirements

This buyer tends to prioritize functionality and efficiency, looking for solutions that seamlessly integrate with their current tech infrastructure. 

Think: Is your product technically viable? Is it a good fit for their organization's tech needs? 

Buy-in with this group is important because it demonstrates that your offering satisfies technical needs, helping to move the conversation forward.

When it comes to selling to technical buyers, Ben Solari, VP of sales at Jellyfish, has this to say about your team’s prep:

"You don't necessarily need to know the tech as much as you need to know the problems that your tech is solving for. Then focus just as much or more on the customer stories and the basic problems that you're unlocking or solutions that you're enabling as you are the tech."

Sales Challenges

  • Ensuring your solution meets stringent technical, security, and compliance standards
  • Demonstrating and communicating how your product will integrate with and improve the existing tech ecosystem

Sales Strategies

Here’s how to sell to technical buyers.

Provide tailored technical enablement

Equip your Sales team with detailed technical documentation (whitepapers, product specs, and security measures) resonating with the technical buyer's need for in-depth tech validation.

To ensure your team understands the enablement materials and can speak to them accurately, consider implementing sales training sessions about the specific problems your tech is solving. This will allow them to confidently address more complex technical questions and demonstrate how your solution aligns with the technical buyer’s needs.

Run a proof of concept project

A proof of concept (POC) is a paid or free test run of your solution, including direct implementation and tech support. For a technical buyer, a POC means they can evaluate your solution in their environment with minimal risk. 

Integrating this process into a centralized workspace (like Dock) makes it more organized, allowing for easier progress monitoring and coordination between sales, tech support, and the buyer for a thorough, smooth, and efficient evaluation.

4. The Operational Buyer

The operational buyer (think roles like COO, Director of Operations, or VP of Operations) focuses on the impact of products or solutions on day-to-day operations. 

They need to know how well something integrates with current systems and processes (not just the technical fit). 

The operational buyer’s end goal is often to improve overall operational efficiency and meet high-level, long-term goals. In general, the operational buyer carefully assesses solutions for:

  1. Practicality
  2. Efficiency
  3. Alignment
  4. Effectiveness 

Sales Challenges

  • Managing the transition and integration of new systems within existing workflows
  • Aligning new solutions with the long-term strategic goals of the organization
  • Overcoming the DIY alternative

Sales Strategies

How can you sell to these ops-minded buyers?

Be proactive about change management

Operational buyers are most concerned with how the tool will get adopted. To calm their concerns, the Sales team should provide the operational buyer with a detailed change management plan—prioritizing overcommunication. 

Brittany Soinski of Loom emphasizes the approach:

"One of the secrets to effective change management is communicating early and often." 

A change management plan should outline:

  • Schedule of tasks and expected communication
  • People responsible for distributing information
  • Detailed content of communication and transition steps

Dock's sales rooms can help you show your operational buyer how change management will be handled. This will give a clear and organized example of transitions—better than messy files, folders, spreadsheets, and email threads. 

Proactively showing off your onboarding process gets ahead of any change management anxiety.

Align your solution with your customer's goals

To align your solution with an organization's long-term goals, show how your product or service can help. 

  1. Present a clear roadmap of how your solution evolves and scales over time, showing its adaptability to future changes and potential challenges.
  2. Highlight the long-term ROI of your solution, reinforcing its financial viability and alignment with the organization's fiscal planning.
  3. Showcase ongoing support and development and how your offering will remain relevant and effective in supporting the organization's growth.

5. The Manager

A coach, leader, or manager serves as an influencer within an organization and plays a pivotal role in the decision-making process. 

While they may not have the final say, their leadership and managerial roles significantly influence it. These individuals are key in shaping the perspectives and consensus within the decision-making team—bridging gaps between different functions to ensure alignment with organizational goals.

Sales Challenges

  • Identifying these key influencers within the organization as missing or overlooking them can jeopardize buy-in
  • Ensuring your solution aligns with the goals and processes across these different organizational influencers to secure broad support

Sales Strategies

Multithreading sales can help your team create, nurture, and build relationships with multiple people across an organization. But to multithread within an org, you need two things:

  1. To know who the right people are 
  2. Make the sale easy on everyone across the board 

Here are some strategies to address both:

Do thorough discovery

To effectively identify key influencers and leaders within an organization, implement a systematic approach like Sandler Selling or MEDDIC

  • Conduct detailed research on the organization, industry, and potential challenges. This provides a strong foundation for understanding where influencers are positioned.
  • Use open-ended questions during the discovery to uncover deeper insights into key players and their roles. Questions should aim to reveal the more formal hierarchy and the informal influence networks within the company.
  • Ask about the organization's decision-making process to identify all stakeholders involved—including those who may not be obviously in the initial stages of the deal.

Enable every influencer

To empower internal influencers, centralize resources in one accessible platform (like Dock!). This should include:

  • Past call recordings
  • Product deep dives
  • Relevant sales collateral
  • Case studies
  • Demos

Robust context helps everyone understand how a solution impacts the goals of different departments, identify who's involved, and facilitate smooth internal communication and information sharing.

6. The End Users

Other end users directly interact with your product or service in their daily work. They may not have a say in the final purchasing decision, but adoption and use are crucial for your team's success within the organization. 

These users are primarily focused on how your offering will impact their day-to-day tasks and overall workflow. They are more likely to block the deal than close it.

Sales Challenges

  • Demonstrating the direct benefits of the solution for them
  • Integrating seamlessly with their existing workflow with ongoing support

Sales Strategies

Here’s how to avoid getting deals blocked by end users.

Emphasize benefits and workflow integration

End users need to know what's in it for them. To help convey this, highlight how your product or service will improve daily tasks—making their work more efficient and enjoyable.

Focus on: 

  • User-friendly features
  • Direct benefits impacting their routine activities
  • How your solution integrates with existing workflows without significant disruption

Offer demos with proactive support

Demos or trials allow end users to experience the product firsthand and help them understand its ease of use and immediate benefits. 

Be proactive in soliciting and addressing feedback during these sessions. Timely follow-up builds confidence and trust—showing your team's responsiveness and commitment to meeting their needs. 

Connect with every buyer type using Dock

Dock makes getting buy-in from every buyer type easier (and faster). 

With Dock’s sales rooms, you can:

  • Centralize sales materials, making it easy for each buyer type to access and review information
  • Streamline the sales cycle by providing a single point of access for presentations, proposals, and contracts—reducing the time from initial contact to closing the deal
  • Improve engagement with insights into buyers' interests and questions, so you can tailor follow-up communication
  • Facilitate collaboration and transparency, ensuring alignment and understanding throughout the sales process

Sign up for Dock for free and see for yourself.

The Dock Team