Many companies, both B2B and B2C, find themselves in the position of having to satisfy a committee of decision-makers in order to make a sale. This is especially true of high consideration sales, where the cost causes buyers to take more time researching, comparing, and deliberating over their purchase. It's important for the businesses selling these high consideration products to understand that selling to a committee is a different process than selling to an individual; it takes more marketing touches and a more carefully researched plan.
Start With Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a hot topic in today's marketing circles, but many people don't fully grasp one key point about them: A buyer persona should be fact-based. The more research you put into developing your buyer personas, the more effective your marketing efforts can be. Begin with the customers you already have, because you can get detailed information on them and their motivations, then work your way out to the customers you want, but have less hard data on. The most effective way to gather the information on your current customers is to interview them, but you may find it easier to survey them instead. Interviews will yield better data, but surveys typically provide a larger sample. Combining the two techniques gives you the advantage, because the interviews will give depth and detail, while the surveys will likely support and validate what you've learned from your interviews, if you chose truly representative customers to interview.
- Who's On The Committee? – It's fairly simple to identify and learn about your point of contact, but learning who else was involved in the decision to buy takes a bit more diligence. If you're a B2C company, you may have interacted with multiple members of the committee throughout the sales process, but if you're a B2B, you'll probably have to ask your point of contact for additional information. In B2B situations, you'll want to learn more about the positions of the committee members, their responsibilities, and level of sophistication with regard to your industry. For B2C sales, you should be looking for information about the age, education, income levels, and technological habit like social media use and email habits.
- What Motivates Each Member? – Learning what motivates the individuals who influence the final buying decision is part science and part art, because you need to read between the lines to discover their unspoken motivations (which, in many cases, they themselves haven't realized they have) and add that to their stated motivations. Most often, people will state their intellectual motivations and leave emotional motivations unstated. If you're interviewing or surveying, take this into consideration as you craft your questions, and you're likely to come up with more useful results.
- Add Target Customer Profiles – After you've built the most factual buyer personas possible from your current-customer research, consult both your sales and marketing teams to form personas for the customers you want, but don't yet have. You can use your specific analytics or those of competitors, and more generalized demographics to form these profiles. Monitor the analytics of any marketing touches aimed at these hypothetical personas. If you find that they're not bringing result as strong as those based on actual customer data, you may need to adjust the profile to more accurately reflect those "most wanted" customers.
Plan Your Strategy
Buying decisions are always made on a combination of intellectual and emotional factors. In B2B purchases, those decisions are generally affected more strongly by intellect. In B2C sales, though, decision makers are more polarized: Some favor data, some favor emotional appeal. The bigger the purchase, the more marketing touches it will take to make a sale, especially when you're selling to multiple decision makers. This is one place where many marketing campaigns fall down; they fail to address each decision maker on their own terms by crafting tailored content for a variety of decision processes.
- Understand How People Think – In any sales process, you're going to identify and address the buyer's pain points. In a high-consideration sales process, especially in B2C sales, you need to go deeper. When people are considering large purchases like a time-share for family vacations or choosing an assisted living facility for an elderly loved one, some of them need to feel happy and comfortable before they can process the factual information; others need to feel intellectually confident before they can process how they feel about a potential purchase.
- Include Something For Everyone – If you're going to make seven to ten marketing touches, be sure those touches include appeals to each of your buyer personas, but don't go for a one-size-fits-all approach. Make each touch focus on one buyer persona and decision making style.
- Help Them Convert Each Other – Include a morsel in each marketing touch that can help the buyer persona you're talking to convert a different buyer in the group. For example, if you're writing content aimed at an intellect-first persona, put a "warm fuzzy" bit in there, as well, so that when the buyers meet and discuss, each of them has an argument point to help bring other group members to your point of view, on their own terms.
Sell To Multiple Decision Makers More Efficiently
If your company sells a product or service that's most often purchased by committee decision, learning to work effectively with multiple decision makers can help you close more sales and shorten the decision-making cycle.