May 28, 2020 • Podcast

How do I sell to multiple decision-makers?

Paul shares one idea to sell more effectively to groups and multiple decision-makers.

Show Notes:

More and more people are getting involved in the decision-making process. 

Our research shows that approximately six people are involved. If you’re not meeting with at least six decision-makers, you’re missing an opportunity.

“In a group setting, people like to conform. Individuals place group conformity above self-interest.”

Buyers indicated that consensus is one of their biggest frustrations with group decision making.

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Solomon Asch – Conformity Experiment


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How do I sell to multiple decision makers?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about selling to groups of decision makers. How do you manage multiple decision makers?

Before we get into that though, a quick shout out to our sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studios. If you’re starting your podcast… any questions you have, reach out to them. All things podcast, they know the answer, and they know how to help you get started. Again, this is a great way to connect with your audience. Give it a try.  

Also, pick up your latest addition of Value-Added Selling. We are now on the fourth edition of this book. It’s available on Amazon. Go there, check it out. In fact, we have a whole chapter in the book dedicated to selling to multiple decision makers. So this is kind of a double bonus. You’ll be able to dive deeper into this topic and idea.

With that being said, let’s talk about this challenge. We’ve all been there, right? We’re selling a deal. We get everyone excited. We got the key decision makers on board. And then, they tell us, “Oh. We just need to run this past so-and-so,” or, “We need to check with this department.” And then we have to start the sales process almost over again just for that individual.

That can be frustrating. It can be challenging. More people are getting involved. Our research shows that about 5.8 decision makers are getting involved each time (call it six decision makers). So as a rule of thumb, if you’re not meeting with six people within some of your top opportunities, you’re probably not talking to all the right people. We have to get more people involved.

Also, during tough economic times, like we’re facing right now, more people are going to get involved as well. Individuals that used to be able to make routine decisions, and issue your purchase orders, and move a deal along are now having to check with other individuals; they’re having to get higher levels of approval. So, again, more people are getting involved in the process. On today’s show we’re going to talk about how to manage multiple decision makers and what we can do to play on some of the group dynamics like groupthink and also group polarization as well.

So let’s talk about groupthink. When we’re looking at decisions in a group setting, it’s important to know that groups like to conform around a central idea or a central decision. People will often conform to the group, even if it’s not in their self interests. And this has been proven in several experiments.

Solomon Asch has a wonderful experiment on this. You can Google it. We’ll put a link to one of them on the website so you can check it out. He did an experiment where he actually had groups of people come in and purposely give the wrong answer. Then, when they got to the final participant, they asked the participant what they thought, and that participant would agree with the group knowing it was the wrong answer. They did that 75 percent of the time. It’s hard to explain this one over the podcast because you can’t really see the visuals, so we’re going to put a link to that experiment on our web page. Check it out. But it’s a great example of how people like to conform. People like to conform. That’s the key point.

Another challenge we face, though, is with polarization. When you hear the groups being polarized, often it’s mentioned in political terms. We’re very polarized right now within politics. And all that really means is that when a group of people get together with shared attitudes and beliefs, they become intensified. This can also play into decision making when multiple decision makers are getting together, and one person has an attitude or belief, an idea, and another person has one as well. All of a sudden people start intensifying their beliefs, and it could be either positively or negatively. That’s something to consider.

On this podcast though, in this episode, we’re going to give you one tip that will help you move the sale forward. When you’ve got multiple decision makers, you still need to meet with them individually. The reason that we do this individually… it’s important that we gain their individual buy-in. We need to understand their individual needs and how our solution will satisfy those needs and help them with their departmental objectives. We have to meet with each individual decision maker. And we want to meet with them individually, not in a group setting if we can all help it. Because, if we have our individual decision makers in a group setting and we just focus on one of them, and we say, “How is this going to impact your department?” “What are your department’s objectives?” What are your specific needs?” that doesn’t come off right. The rest of the group is wondering, “Okay, why did they just focus on their needs?”

We want to do that individually. And once we get a stronger sense of each of the individual’s needs and how they’re impacted, then we want to start bringing the group together. We want to start gaining that consensus, and here’s how we do it. Once we gain that individual’s buy-in, we then make them aware of everyone else’s buy-in. It’s not enough for just one individual to buy-in to your idea or to your solution. That individual also needs to be aware of other decision makers that have already bought in to this solution. We need to make them aware of how other individuals are viewing this—their thoughts and their ideas, and how it’s going to impact them and that they’re ready to move forward. Because doing that is going to encourage them to speak up at meetings. When they do decide, “How are we going to do this? Are we going to move forward? What should we do…?” —

I’m going to share a quick example of just how important it is to make each decision maker aware of their shared buy-in to the idea, to the solution, whatever it might be. This is going back all the way to my college days. I graduated from University of Missouri a long time ago. M-I-Z-Z-O-U, to any of my fellow Tigers out there that listen to the podcast.

I remember sitting around the fraternity house. It was a Wednesday evening. Not a big night to go out and have fun, but one of my roommates came in and said, “Let’s go out to Willie’s tonight.” Willie’s was one of our favorite go-to spots. I said, “I don’t know. It’s a Wednesday night. I’ve got early class tomorrow. Who else is going?” I didn’t say no. I said who else is going.

He then went around to every other room on our floor knocking on the doors. “Hey, what are you guys doing tonight? You want to go up to Willie’s? Paul and I are thinking about heading up there.” The first few people would say, “Who else is going?” and he’d go to the next room and say, “We’re thinking about going up to Willie’s tonight. It’s going to be me. It’s going to be Reilly. It’s going to be this person, that person. You guys want to go?” And they would say, “Well, yeah. Let’s do it.” Then, he would come back to all the other rooms and say, “They’re definitely in. Are you guys in?” And they’d say yes. And then he’d come back to my room and say, “We’ve got five guys going up there. Are you ready?” I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” Heck, by the end of the night, he probably had twenty of the fraternity guys up at the bar. That was his idea. Again, once people were made aware of who else was buying in, who else was going to be part of it (there was some consensus there), people were more likely to say yes and move forward. So everything you want to know about group influence, just look at a fraternity… Maybe not. But anyway, you get the point of the story.

That’s the tip for today. Again, make each decision maker aware of their shared intention to buy or move forward. That’s the whole point of this show. If you want more tips, again, check out our latest addition of Value-Added-Selling. It’s available on Amazon.

Make it a big day!

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