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June 7, 2016
Sales  |  3 min read

In B2B Sales, Your Real Target Customer Might Not Be Who You Think They Are

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Al Davidson

One of the challenges of B2B sales is that the process is so complex and time-consuming. It can often take six months to a year or more to close a deal on a major account B2B sale—and even longer if you include the timeframe for implementation of your new solution. With such a long timeline, many companies and salespeople try to find a shortcut in the sales process by going after what they think is their ideal target customer or “key decision maker”—but often, the most important target customer is not who you might expect.

One of the biggest mistakes that B2B sales organizations tend to make is confusing the “user” of their solution with the “decision maker” for their solution. These are not always the same person.

For example, let’s say your company sells an innovative new service that enables CEOs to rent space on a private jet for business travel— instead of owning a private jet, the CEOs could share a portion of the costs of ownership while still enjoying the convenience of private jet travel. It sounds like a great idea, right? Unfortunately, many companies that sell services meant to make life easier for the top-ranking executives at their customers’ companies also make the mistake of trying to target top-ranking executives at their customers’ companies. Instead of trying to chase down CEOs and pitch them your idea—CEOs, after all, are the busiest and hardest-to-reach people on Earth—you should identify the real decision maker for this type of solution. Hint: it’s not the CEO.

Most companies have an in-house corporate travel department that books business travel and manages transportation for executives. They might already own a private jet that they would like to be rid of—perhaps your solution could be a great cost savings. However, instead of trying to pitch your idea to a top-ranking executive, go lower within the organization and try to talk to someone at the corporate travel department.

This is just one example, but the concept is applicable to lots of products and industries. The “user” of your product or solution, more often than not, is NOT also the “decision maker” who decides to buy from you. Put some strategy into identifying the right decision makers within your customers’ companies.

Another example—you might not have just “one” decision maker that you need to persuade. Think about all of the different departments and parts of your buyer’s company that are affected by your solution; if they switch vendors or implement a new system, which areas of the company get affected by that? All of those people are potentially going to want to have a say in whether their company buys from you, and you might need to assuage some doubts and build relationships in various parts of the company along the way.

No matter what you sell, it’s important to keep in mind that your “customer” is not always the same person who uses what you sell. Many B2B sales organizations need to be prepared to research and build relationships with various other stakeholders and decision makers as part of the long sales process, instead of assuming that your “end user” is also your “customer.” It sounds simple, but it’s a lesson with profound effects on how you find customers and how you work through your sales process.

Worksheet: How to identify your target market - Download Now

This article was written by Al Davidson from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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