Understanding Buyer Decision Criteria

Increasingly, organizations are making buying decisions using teams. As my colleagues Keith Eades and Tim Sullivan cited in their book, The Collaborative Sale, more than three-quarters of all B2B purchase decisions now include at least three people in the evaluation and selection process. Only three percent are now made by just one person.

A principal reason for using teams for buying decisions is that it reduces the risk of making poor selections from potential alternatives. Purchases made by buying committees are now the general norm, because they can mitigate risk and keep procurement costs under control.

And yet, we see too many sellers not taking the time to determine the different buying criteria of each individual on a buying committee. Sellers tend to over-focus on the perspective of their initial contact or sponsor, or they will take the formalized requirements listed in a request for proposal as the sole or most valid source for the buying organization’s decision criteria.

In contrast, smart sales professionals know that each person in a buying committee will have a different perspective about what is most important in a potential solution. Each individual will have their own vision of what a solution needs to do, in order to provide the most value. Some will be focused on financial value and cost reduction. Others will worry about how they could transition successfully from the status quo. And still others will focus on operational capabilities and new advantages.

Analyzing Decision Criteria

Sales leaders can coach their sellers to navigate through buying committees more successfully by analyzing and understanding the buying criteria for each relevant individual. By interviewing stakeholders, and verifying findings with friendly sponsor(s) in the account, a seller can determine the relative weighting of different criteria that will factor into each buyer’s choice.

Example of a Decision Criteria Analysis
Decision Criteria Example

In addition, analyzing the decision criteria for each key player can also reveal strengths and weaknesses against competitive alternatives, including maintaining the status quo – a.k.a., “losing to no decision”. This will inform sellers about what differentiators they can emphasize to prove their unique value, and what weaknesses they must address with alternative or creative approaches, if required.

As the end of the year approaches, now is a good time to conduct a quick analysis of decision criteria in significant opportunities. It will expose potential weaknesses, and guide actions to ensure a much higher chance to win the business.

We’ve created a template to help sellers conduct a Decision Criteria Analysis, which you can download here.

If your sales team needs help in winning more sales opportunities, contact us for a consultation: +1 (704) 227-6500, or visit our website at spi-st.peaktwo.com.

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