Strategic Selling recognises that any large and complex buying decision will inevitably involve many different stakeholders – and that these stakeholders will have widely varying degrees of influence over the decision-making process. The methodology identifies four particularly important roles – economic buyers, user buyers, technical buyers and coaches.
In this model, the economic buyer is responsible for giving the final approval for the purchase of your product or service. This can be a single individual or – as is increasingly common nowadays – a board or a selection committee. But even when a group decision is involved, the methodology encourages us to seek out the most influential individual.
The second buyer influence type is the user buyer. These are the people who will actually use (or supervise the use of) your solution. Their focus is on the job to be done, and the problem to be solved. Their future success may hinge on the effectiveness of your offering, and they often have significant input into the detailed solution requirements.
The third buyer influence type is the technical buyer. These are the people who determine whether any given solution is a good fit for the customer’s environment. The term “technical buyer” can be a little misleading, since it includes not only the obvious IT experts, but also legal, procurement and other specialists who often have the potential power of veto.
The fourth and final key buying influence type is the “coach”. This is someone within the customer organisation who is willing to help guide you in your sales strategy. As the authors point out, the first three roles already exist – but your coach (there may be more than one) needs to be identified and developed.