If you are in enterprise sales, you know that navigating a buying committee with six or more decision-makers is filled with constant roadblocks.
Each committee member has their own agendas, biases, and priorities. It's like playing a game of chess against multiple opponents at once.
This demands a fine-tuned balance of persuasion, patience, access, and trust-building. A single misstep can jeopardize everything you've worked towards.
The complexity doesn't end there. Navigating the internal politics and team dynamics adds another layer to the discovery process. Understanding who holds the real power and the subtleties of relationships behind the scenes is key to inching the deal forward.
Moreover, the decision-making process within these committees is notoriously slow and can severely test your patience. You need to be able to keep up the engagement and momentum—often without any clear indicators of progress from your buyers.
In this post, we're going to guide you through the process of identifying and engaging every member of the buying committee to help you land more whales.
What is a buying committee?
A buying committee is a group of people in an organization responsible for making purchasing decisions. This committee is usually 6-8 people in enterprise companies from various departments such as finance, operations, IT, and management.
Each person in a buying committee brings their own expertise and perspective. Their role is to evaluate potential purchases based on factors like cost, quality, vendor reputation, and long-term value, ensuring that the purchase aligns with the organization's needs and goals.
A buying committee is crucial in managing the procurement process and mitigating the financial and operational risks associated with large purchases. This lengthens the sales process consistently but tends to lead to more informed and balanced decisions.
Why are B2B buying committees more prevalent now?
The B2B buyer journey has become significantly more complex. Buyers do more research on their own, they consider more competitors, and they’re less likely to talk to sales teams.
But beyond sheer availability of information online, there are a few other major reasons for buying committees.
Software purchases have organization-wide impact
Implementing software used to impact a few administrators. You’d implement new HR software, do one training session with the company, and you’re done.
But now, most software touches every member of a company more meaningfully and changes how they have to work.
Therefore, buying committees are put in place to ensure that every aspect of the purchase, such as financial impact, technical compatibility, and long-term strategic fit, are thoroughly evaluated.
To help get more internal buy-in
Involving more internal stakeholders early on in the buying process helps facilitate internal alignment across multiple departments and levels of management.
This also makes getting buy-in during implementation easier, and makes it more likely to achieve the intended outcome of the implementation.
To meet regulatory requirements
Additionally, in many industries, regulatory requirements and corporate governance standards have become more stringent. Buying committees help ensure that purchases comply with these regulations and standards.
For instance, let’s say you are selling enterprise ERP software to Fortune 100 companies. The process for buying and integrating a new ERP typically involves a dozen or more individuals across IT, Finance, Procurement, Security, and Project Management in a B2B buying committee and can take 18 months or longer to implement.
Problems start to arise when you realize that you are not even sure how many people are in the buying committee and the ones that you’ve identified aren’t all ready to act or even have the same priorities.
- You have a project manager who is tasked with selecting a vendor.
- A problem-aware Head of IT still considering different approaches.
- A COO who is also problem-aware but focused on different priorities.
- A CFO who is uncommitted.
- And you know there are more decision makers but you are still uncovering who they are and where they currently sit in the process.
In order for your sales and marketing team to execute an account-based marketing (ABM) playbook, you need all of these people in your buying committee to be brought in.
While each stakeholder is going to require different sales techniques, which we’ll dive into later in this guide, there are certain techniques you can put in place that will make your sales process a little easier.
Typical buying committee members
The typical buying committee in a mid-market or enterprise organization has the following roles:
- Champion: The buyer champion is the advocate for the purchase within the organization. This individual is usually the end user (but not always) and typically believes strongly in the benefits of the product or service and works to convince others in the organization of its value. They often help navigate internal politics and can provide valuable insights into the organization's needs and decision-making processes.
- Economic buyers: Economic buyers have the authority to allocate the budget for the purchase. This is most often a CFO or COO. Their primary concern is the financial aspect of the deal, including cost, ROI, and overall impact on the organization's bottom line. They are rarely the end user, but they play a crucial role in approving or rejecting the purchase based on its economic viability.
- Technical buyers: Technical buyers focus on the technical specifications and capabilities of the product or service. They are usually in IT, software engineering, or sometimes marketing ops, and evaluate how well the solution meets the technical requirements and standards of the organization. Their role is vital in ensuring that the purchase is compatible with existing systems and can effectively meet the intended technical needs.
- End users: End users are the individuals who will directly use the product or service. Your champion is usually in this group too. While they don’t hold power over the final purchasing decision, their input is critical as they provide practical insights into how well the product will meet their day-to-day needs.
- Other department leaders. These are leaders from various departments within the organization who may be impacted by the purchase. They provide a broader perspective on how the product or service will affect different areas of the organization. Their involvement ensures that the purchase aligns with the overall strategic goals and operational needs across various departments.
Best practices for selling to the entire buying committee
Selling the buying committee is all about buyer enablement—i.e., making it easy for a buying committee to buy your solution.
At its simplest, buyer enablement is about:
- Understanding the problem they’re trying to solve as buyers
- Learning how your business will uniquely solve their problem
- Helping your champion advocate internally for your product
- Giving your buyer a clear path to purchase
Use qualification-focused methodology to identify stakeholders
These time-tested methodologies emphasize the importance of thoroughly qualifying potential clients and understanding all of the key stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.
The Sandler Selling System is all about building mutual trust and understanding the client's true needs. This approach helps in identifying not just the obvious decision-makers but also the hidden influencers and potential deal killers. By understanding each stakeholder's unique challenges, priorities, and decision-making criteria, you can tailor your approach more effectively.
Similarly, MEDDIC (i.e. Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion) is a comprehensive qualification framework that guides sales professionals in systematically understanding and navigating the client's buying process. It involves identifying the key metrics that the client cares about, understanding who the economic buyer is, comprehending the decision criteria and process, identifying the client's pain points, and finding an internal champion.
Do account mapping and multithreading
Account mapping involves creating a detailed understanding of your client's organizational structure and decision-making dynamics. This process identifies various stakeholders, outlining their roles, influence, and team relationship dynamics. So, you can tailor your approach to each member's specific concerns and motivations.
Multithreading complements account mapping by engaging multiple contacts within the client's organization simultaneously. Rather than relying on a single point of contact, you can establish connections with various individuals across different levels and departments. This approach not only mitigates the risk associated with depending on a single contact but also enhances the chances of building a broader consensus for the purchase.
Together, these strategies form a comprehensive approach to navigating complex sales processes.
Center the conversation in a digital sales room
One of the most powerful buyer enablement tactics is creating a digital sales room that makes it easy to share information with everyone in the buying committee in the same place throughout the B2B sales cycle.
Instead of relying on your champion to forward a mess of email attachments like slide decks, proposal PDFs, and out-of-date quotes throughout their organization, a sales room allows you to present unified content and personalized messaging to everyone on the buying committee.
That’s where a solution like Dock’s digital sales room shines.
Not only does Dock allow you to share sales content with a buying committee—it’s also the only digital sales room with fully collaborative mutual action plans where both the buyer and seller can work through action items together on one easy-to-use microsite.
This means you can present different information, like webinars, customer success stories, recommendation engines, calculators, along with action items for different stakeholders all without requiring any additional accounts and passwords to manage.
When using Dock’s digital sales room, you can also track engagement to see which buyer-side contacts are not only most engaged but also see what content they’ve engaged with. You can then use this intent data to inform next steps.
💡 Pro Tip: You can start from our digital sales room template for free and personalize it to your company’s sales process.
Don't try to fake urgency
Because these deals are long, complex, and involve multiple stakeholders, it is about patience, persistence, and focusing on what you can control.
The reality is the only urgency the customer has is what their board of directors say they have.
Whether your product is innovative, will save them money, can automate or reduce headcount—it doesn’t matter if the company is not in a position to buy right now.
Fake urgency tactics will only make you look like an amateur, pushy, and can even turn off prospective stakeholders.
Here is an alternative that works better. At Dock, we make a mutual action plan for our buyers that maps dates back to the buying committee's launch goals.
If our prospects want to launch by February, an implementation kickoff meeting will have to happen by mid-January. For that to happen, the deal will have to close by the end of December.
Positioning deal milestones around the buying committee’s own stated deadline goals is a lot more compelling than imposing artificial signing dates.
Highlight long-term relationships and support
While the sales process is long, buying committees look for vendors they can trust over the long haul, not just for a one-time transaction.
Once you are a preferred vendor, you tend to stay in and grow your influence for years.
So, anything your sales team can do to demonstrate your commitment to long-term relationships and ongoing support is likely to be well-received.
This means discussing and planning for post-purchase scenarios, such as implementation, training, and support. This shows that you are committed to their long-term success, not just closing a sale.
For example, Loom’s Customer Success team joins sales calls to give a preview of their post-sale onboarding experience. This gives every buying committee stakeholder a better sense of what happens after the purchase.
Tips for selling to the champion
When selling to the champion, it is all about educating and empowering them as opposed to the “hard sell.”
Here are some tips for effectively selling to your champion:
- Understand their motivations. Identify what drives them. It could be solving a specific problem, improving efficiency, or gaining a competitive edge. Tailor your pitch to align with these motivations, showing how your product or service directly addresses their needs and goals.
For example, Jason Fishkind, Sprinklr’s first account executive, used to inform his deal champion that more than half of the people responsible for leading a Sprinklr purchase in their organization were promoted within a year.
- Arm them with ample resources. Champions often need to persuade other committee members. Equip them with detailed information, case studies, and data in a digital sales room that they can use to advocate for your product or service. Make sure they understand the key benefits and can confidently address potential objections.
- Establish and build rapport early on. Regular communication, understanding their challenges, and being responsive to their needs can help in building a solid relationship. Remember, the champion is your ally within the organization.
- Address potential objections head-on. Collab with your champion to gather intel on their team’s objections so that you can address them, as well as anticipate typical objections you've learned from other deals and help the champion get in front of those. This can include concerns about cost, implementation, or compatibility with existing systems. Providing clear, concise responses and solutions to these objections can empower your champion to defend the decision.
- Empower them to advocate on your behalf. You should offer any support you can to help your champion advocate on your behalf. This could include arming them with buyer enablement content that includes additional messaging, case studies, customized presentations, etc.
- Create a mutual action plan. One way to empower them is through a mutual action plan. This gives actionable next steps to help them get buy-in and get ahead of objections, like a security review.
For instance, here is how Champify empowers buyer champions with Dock.
By understanding and supporting your champion, you can effectively leverage their influence and advocacy to navigate the buying committee and increase the chances of a successful sale.
Tips for selling to economic buyers
Here are some tips for effectively engaging with these key decision-makers:
- Focus on ROI. Economic buyers don’t care about features. They are interested in the financial impact. So, present a clear and quantifiable case for how your product or service will save money, increase efficiency, or drive revenue in the long term.
- Provide a detailed financial analysis. Be prepared with detailed financial analyses, such as cost-benefit analyses, break-even analyses, and payback periods. Economic buyers appreciate data-driven arguments and detailed financial projections.
- Highlight productivity gains. Besides direct cost savings, emphasize how your product or service can enhance efficiency and productivity. Show how these improvements can translate into financial benefits for the organization.
- Address total cost of ownership (TCO). Discuss not just the purchase price, but the total cost of ownership, which includes maintenance, support, and any other long-term costs. Demonstrating an understanding of TCO shows that you are considering their long-term financial concerns.
- Be prepared for tough questions. Economic buyers will likely ask challenging questions about costs, benefits, and risks. Be prepared with well-researched, honest answers. This preparation shows that you understand their concerns and are confident in your product’s value.
For example, when travel dried up during the pandemic, Navan’s CRO, Rich Liu, had to refocus his company’s sales pitch on proving economic impact to the prospect’s CFO.
By focusing on the economic impact and aligning your pitch with the financial and operational priorities of these buyers, you can effectively address their primary concerns and increase the likelihood of a successful sale.
Tips for selling to technical buyers
Selling to technical buyers, such as IT managers, solution architects, or sales engineers, requires a strategy that emphasizes the technical merits and compatibility of your product or service.
Here are some tips for effectively engaging with these detail-oriented buyers:
- Understand their technical requirements. Before pitching, take the time to thoroughly understand the technical requirements and challenges that your technical buyers face. This knowledge allows you to tailor your talking points to address their specific needs and concerns.
- Demonstrate technical expertise. There is nothing that turns off a technical buyer faster than realizing the person they are talking to doesn’t understand the product well enough and can’t speak their language. Show that you have a deep understanding of your product’s technology. Be prepared to discuss technical details and answer technical questions confidently.
- Get into the weeds of product features and benefits. Focus on the unique features of your product and how they translate into tangible benefits. Be specific about how your product can improve efficiency, performance, or solve particular technical problems they are facing. For instance, you may want to highlight any security or compliance features here.
- Discuss integration and compatibility. Address how your product integrates with existing systems and technologies they are already using. Technical buyers are often concerned about the ease of integration and the potential disruptions it might cause. This is also a good time to emphasize how customizable or flexible your solution is.
- Discuss support and maintenance. Detail the kind of technical support and maintenance services you offer. Technical buyers want to know that they will have reliable support for troubleshooting and maintenance post-purchase.
- Be honest about limitations. If there are limitations or conditions where your product might not be the best fit, be upfront about them. Honesty builds trust and credibility, which are crucial in a long-term business relationship.
- Follow up. After meetings or presentations, follow up with detailed technical documentation, white papers, or case studies that they can review in their own time. This information can help them in their internal discussions and decision-making process.
Ben Solari, VP of Sales at Jellyfish, explained on Grow & Tell how his sales team enables their technical buyers during their enterprise sales process.
By focusing on the technical aspects and demonstrating how your product meets their specific technical needs, you can effectively engage with technical buyers and increase the likelihood of a successful sale.
Tips for selling to the end-user
Selling to end users who aren't the champion in the buying committee requires a different approach. It is all about sharing practical benefits and demonstrating the direct impact on their daily work.
Because of that, a lot of the tactics you use with a champion can work with end users, however, here are some additional best practices.
- Take the time to understand their challenges. Start by understanding the end users' daily tasks, challenges, and pain points. This insight allows you to position your product or service as a solution to their specific problems.
- Emphasize practical benefits. Highlight how your product or service will make their work easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable. Focus on user-friendly features and practical benefits that directly impact their daily tasks.
- Provide hands-on demos. Whenever possible, offer demos or trials that allow end users to experience the product first hand. This can help them understand the practical benefits and ease of use of your product.
- Be proactive about soliciting and addressing feedback. Actively seek feedback from end users during demonstrations or trials. Be open to their concerns and questions, and address them promptly. This not only helps in refining your pitch but also shows that you value their input.
- Showcase success stories. Share stories or testimonials from other users who have benefited from your product. Hearing about positive experiences from their peers can be very persuasive.
- Highlight training and support. Assure them of the training and support that will be available to help them transition to the new product or service. Knowing that they will have help can alleviate concerns about adopting something new.
- Facilitate peer-to-peer communication. If possible, connect them with other users within or outside their organization. Peer-to-peer discussions can provide reassurance and help them see the practical benefits of the product.
- Follow up. After initial meetings or demonstrations, follow up with additional information, answer any new questions, and stay engaged throughout the decision-making process.
By focusing on the specific needs and experiences of end users and demonstrating how your product can make a positive difference in their daily work, you can effectively influence their opinion and support within the buying committee.
Win over more buying committees with Dock
With Dock, it only takes a few clicks to build digital sales rooms that make it easy to present unified messaging to a buying team, while also creating specific mutual action plans for individual stakeholders.
So, you can help champions make the case to internal stakeholders, speak to the financial impacts to economic buyers, and demonstrate technical chops to technical buyers.