There are as many models for “buyer roles” in the sales marketplace today as there are sales methodologies. But as is often true with a tool that works (you’ll pry my Moleskine notebook from my cold, dead hands) I have my favorite model for buyer roles too – the “Buying Influences” of Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman.
Miller-Heiman’s Strategic Selling was a ground-breaking sales methodology that like Neil Rackham’s S.P.I.N. Selling has influenced almost all thinking on the subject since it was introduced. In the Strategic Selling methodology, a key tenant was thinking about selling through the eyes of the buyer broken down by role or “buying influence.”
The epiphany of this model included:
- “Selling” should really be looked at through the buyer’s eyes. This was revolutionary and still remains a challenge in some organizations.
- The single-sale-to-single-buyer paradigm is no longer relevant. Buying is done by a group, either in organized or loosely federated teams. This is a truth to this day, arguably accelerated by the internet and social media providing the opportunity for buyers to be more educated than ever, and instilling a drive to have a voice in collaborative decision-making.
- These teams had various roles, and the roles could be grouped into common types with common business priorities:
- Economic: The one buyer with $ authority
- User: The person or people who will interact with the solution on a daily basis.
- Technical: the person or people who will need to deeply understand the solution or do the care and feeding.
- Coach: An active fan of your solution, who will help you sell it into their organization.
- The salesperson should incorporate this into the sales strategy.
If you’re still looking at selling from the inside out, and think you have one buyer per sale, it is a very valuable exercise to dust off your copy of this book (or get digital and download it to your Kindle) and do a gut check.
You’ll be glad you took the time to sell under the influence!